A new lawsuit alleges Trump’s effort to overturn Michigan’s election results disenfranchises Black voters

As Michigan’s deadline for certifying election results looms, attempts by President Donald Trump to overturn the result in the state have led to a lawsuit for the right to vote – and could lead to an investigation criminal charges against local officials.

A group of Detroit voters on Friday filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the Trump campaign’s lawsuits to reject votes in Wayne County, home of Detroit, amounted to massive deprivation of black voters .

“Repeating false allegations of voter fraud, which have been completely debunked, the defendants are pressuring Michigan state and local authorities not to count the votes in Wayne County, Michigan,” trial states. “The accused’s tactics repeat the worst abuses in our country’s history, as black Americans were denied a voice in American democracy for much of the Republic’s first two centuries.

The city of Detroit is almost 80 percent black, and overwhelmingly democratic votes in national elections. President-elect Joe Biden won Wayne County by an estimated 332,000 votes, which was essential to his 150,000-vote victory in Michigan, a battlefield state that was key to Trump’s 2016 victory.

In essence, as Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said at a press conference Thursday, “It changes the outcome of the Michigan election, if you take out Wayne County.

To that end, the Wayne County election results were contested by the Trump campaign and its followers throughout the week.

On Tuesday, the two Republican canvassers from the four-person Wayne County Election Board briefly blocked certification of vote totals. As Vox’s Andrew Prokop explained, the reason given by these Republican officials was that there were discrepancies between constituency counts regarding the number of appointees who voted and the actual vote count. This is called an “unbalanced” neighborhood. “

And some ridings in Wayne County were, in fact, imbalanced, but usually by no more than four votes – not enough to change the outcome of the election. Livonia, a predominantly white city, was the most lopsided region, with a 27-vote gap. Nonetheless, GOP solicitor Monica Palmer argued that all of Wayne County’s results should be certified with the exception of Detroit’s, a situation which, as Giuliani said, would completely change the winner of the State.

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That these were votes in a predominantly black area that GOP canvassers hoped to reject was immediately criticized as illegal and discriminatory – the NAACP chapter chairman of Detroit, Wendell anthonyPalmer called “shame” on his face after suggesting it be done. But that was only part of what sparked the trial. The other part had to do with Trump himself.

Trump personally encourages efforts to reject Michigan votes

Trump praised the efforts of Palmer and William Hartmann, the other Republican canvasser for Wayne County, on Twitter Tuesday evening, despite the fact that GOP officials agreed to certify the results. Palmer and Hartmann have since asked for the certification to be canceled, it still stands.

Trump’s campaign acknowledged this reality on Thursday, when it voluntarily abandoned a federal lawsuit to end Wayne County’s certification of votes. It came after three similar lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona were dismissed. The campaign said the Michigan lawsuit was dropped due to the actions of Wayne County officials.

However, the president’s efforts to change the election result did not stop there: on Friday afternoon, Trump hosted a meeting at the White House with a delegation of four Republicans from Michigan. The meeting was seen as an effort to pressure lawmakers to use the legislature to ignore the will of voters and send pro-Trump voters to the Electoral College, giving Trump the 16 Electoral College votes in the ‘State.

But after that meeting, the state’s top Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey and House Speaker Lee Chatfield, released a statement saying they would go through “the normal process” to certify voters from. the state.

“The candidates who win the most votes win Michigan’s election and electoral votes. These are simple truths that should give confidence in our elections, ”they said.

This meeting – and the Wayne County certification incident – were both cited in Detroit lawsuit, brought by three constituents from Detroit and the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, represented by attorneys from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

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And the lawsuit is part of a growing wave of concern that the Trump campaign is working to delegitimize black votes – not only in Detroit, but in other largely black cities, such as Atlanta, Philadelphia and Milwaukee, the Washington post reports.

“It’s as vile now as it was during the reconstruction,” said Carol Anderson, professor of African American studies at Emory University. the post office. “It’s a very narrow, slippery slope, from saying ‘illegal votes’ to ‘illegal voters’, so this attack on black voters is real.”

A Michigan official’s interactions with Trump also reportedly caught the attention of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who another said Washington post report, may initiate investigations into whether officials’ efforts to revoke their certification and lawmakers meeting with the president involved a conspiracy, bribe, or perjury that could violate state law.

Nessel’s office did not comment on this story to the Post. If his office continues the case, officials found to have acted inappropriately could face criminal charges and penalties, including jail time.

Michigan will soon certify its results

The content of Friday’s White House meeting with Michigan Republicans remains opaque, and White House officials have not commented on what happened there.

Subsequently, however, Senate Majority Leader Shirkey and Speaker of the House Chatfield released a statement saying they had requested coronavirus relief funds at the meeting and that they “ would follow the law and go through the normal process for Michigan voters, as we have said throughout this election. . ”

This seems to suggest that lawmakers do not plan to interfere with Michigan’s certification process, which is expected to end on Monday.

As Vox’s Andrew Prokop wrote, the state’s certification process requires the approval of a four-person bipartisan board, similar to the one in Wayne County that was initially stalled.

Prokop notes that another state-level stalemate would “call into question whether Biden would get Michigan’s 16 electoral votes,” but that even if the president received Michigan electoral votes, the Trump side would be expected to succeed. to overturn the results in at least two other swing states to deprive Biden of his Electoral College victory.

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And while Trump has launched similar challenges in other states in an apparent attempt to do just that, any struggle for certification would almost certainly go to court, writes Prokop. In Michigan, senior officials are largely Democrats, including Secretary of State, Attorney General Nessel and Governor Gretchen Whitmer, all of whom are expected to fight any last-minute efforts to alter election results. And while Republicans hold the state legislature, Shirkey and Chatfield, for the moment at least, seem reluctant to help the president.

Still, given the division of power in the state and the lack of precedent for efforts like the president’s, what exactly would happen if the state failed to certify on Monday remains unclear.