The Morning Jolt


Deadlines Loom

An election official works in the ballot room organizing unused ballots returned from voting precincts after Election Day at the Kenosha Municipal Building in Kenosha, Wisc., November 4, 2020. (Daniel Acker/Reuters)

It’s crunch time. The deadlines for certifying the election results for the big swing states start arriving at the end of this week. Georgia’s is Friday. Michigan and Pennsylvania must certify their results by November 23. Nevada’s is December 1. Once those certifications occur, the vote count is over and the presidential election truly is resolved — which means it’s time to sort out the hype from the facts about the count and certification process in those states.

The Short-Lived Stalemate over Certifying the Vote in Wayne County, Mich.

The certification of the final vote counts in Michigan hit an unexpected — and surprisingly temporary — delay Tuesday night:

The two Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers cast an unprecedented vote Tuesday against certifying the county’s November election results for the county’s 43 jurisdictions, including Detroit, Michigan’s largest voting jurisdiction.

Monica Palmer, the Republican chair of the committee said, “I believe that we do not have complete and accurate information on those poll books,” referring to jurisdictions, including Detroit, that recorded unexplained discrepancies between the number of absentee ballots recorded as cast and the number of absentee ballots counted.

Jonathan Kinloch, the Democratic vice chair of the board, said: “Most of this is human error. . . . It’s not based on fraud.”

All four members of the board unanimously supported the certification of the August primary election, which also saw unexplained discrepancies.

President Trump saw their refusal as a victory, exclaiming on Twitter, “Wow! Michigan just refused to certify the election results! Having courage is a beautiful thing. The USA stands proud!” He later added, “Flip Michigan back to TRUMP. Detroit, not surprisingly, has tremendous problems!

But later in the evening, the two Republicans on the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, reversed themselves, certifying the result and calling “on Michigan [Secretary of State] Jocelyn Benson to conduct an audit of the unexplained precincts in Wayne County that did not match.

(For those wondering why the Board of Canvassers of a heavily Democratic county is split between two Republicans and two Democrats, “each of the 83 Boards of County Canvassers in the State of Michigan is currently composed of two Republican members and two Democratic members, appointed by the County Board of Commissioners to four year terms.” In 2016, Wayne County split, 66 percent to 30 percent, in favor of Hillary Clinton. Keep in mind that the county has 1.7 million people, but only 670,000 live within the city limits of Detroit.)

Even if the two Republicans on the county board hadn’t changed their mind on certifying the results, their refusal to certify would not have changed the vote totals or the outcome of the state’s presidential election. It just would have metaphorically kicked the decision upstairs to a state board with similar duties.

Under Michigan law, “If the board of county canvassers fails to certify the results of any election for any officer or proposition by the fourteenth day after the election as provided, the board of county canvassers shall immediately deliver to the secretary of the board of state canvassers all records and other information pertaining to the election. The board of state canvassers shall meet immediately and make the necessary determinations and certify the results within the 10 days immediately following the receipt of the records from the board of county canvassers. The cost of the canvass must be borne by the county involved.”

The Board of State Canvassers also has four members: two Republicans, and two Democrats. Their upcoming decisions are not likely to result in a partisan stalemate. At the state board’s September meeting, the quartet unanimously agreed on all decisions about the state’s upcoming elections, including several recall petitions against the governor, lieutenant governor, state attorney general, and secretary of state. The board unanimously agreed that one recall petition for Governor Gretchen Whitmer “factually and clearly stated the reason for the recall” while the recall petitions for Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist, state AG Dana Nessel, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson did not. The state board meets at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

But the Board of State Canvassers does not have ten days to sort out any issues in vote totals in any other county in Michigan. That board meets to canvass November general election on November 23. Michigan law makes that last step so that the election results are metaphorically etched in stone: “As soon as practicable after the state board of canvassers has, by the official canvass, ascertained the result of an election as to electors of president and vice-president of the United States, the governor shall certify, under the seal of the state, to the United States secretary of state, the names and addresses of the electors of this state chosen as electors of president and vice-president of the United States.”

That will happen, come hell or high water — and on December 14, the Electoral College will meet. Barring some astronomically unlikely sequence of events, about 306 electors will select Joe Biden to the be next president of the United States and make his victory official. Based on recent history, it is possible that we will see some “rogue electors,” electors who toss aside their oaths and metaphorically scream “LOOK AT ME!” while casting a vote for some imaginary dream ticket or political figures who didn’t run for president.

Meanwhile, Down in Georgia . . .

Yesterday, we reported on the additional votes found in Floyd County during Georgia’s statewide recount. On Tuesday, two other Georgia counties reported notable adjustments to their initial tallies. Walton County added 284 ballots, which added up to a net gain of 176 votes for President Trump. “During a virtual press conference Tuesday afternoon, Gabriel Sterling, a Voting System Implementation Manager at Georgia Secretary of State, said an additional 2,700 uncounted votes were found in Fayette County.

So far, the counties that have completed their recounts reported results that were the same, or almost the same, as the initial count results: “In all, 78 of Georgia’s 159 counties had finished their audits and recounts Tuesday. In 57 of those counties, the manual count exactly matched the machine count. In 21 other counties, they were within one vote of the initial count.”

Right now, the Georgia Secretary of State’s website indicates that Biden leads Georgia by 13,977 votes. Last week, Biden led by 14,028 votes.

Meanwhile, Out West in Nevada . . .

In Nevada, the Trump campaign and state Republican Party filed a fifth lawsuit related to the election, contending that Joe Biden’s 33,596-vote lead in the state is based upon fraudulent votes, and that “President Trump was victorious in this election.” So far, no judge has determined any vote was fraudulent. State officials did reject 2,243 provisional ballots — meaning they had never been added to the official count. “The majority of those ballots were from people who had not registered to vote.”

Clark County, Nev., will indeed have a re-vote for one race. The Clark County Registrar of Voters determined that 139 ballots had discrepancies — ninety-six one-thousandths of one percent — and the margin in one county commissioner race came down to ten votes. County commissioners are moving ahead with plans for a special election — invalidating Democrat Ross Miller’s ten-vote victory over Republican opponent Stavros Anthony. Miller is filing a suit in an attempt to force the commission to certify his winning results.

Meanwhile, Up in Pennsylvania . . .

And in Philadelphia, Rudy Giuliani did not have a great day in the courtroom, his first time representing a client in nearly three decades:

Giuliani needled an opposing lawyer, calling him “the man who was very angry with me, I forgot his name.”

He mistook the judge for a federal judge in a separate Pennsylvania district who rejected a separate Trump campaign case: “I was accused of not reading your opinion and that I did not understand it.”

And he tripped himself up over the meaning of “opacity.”

“In the plaintiffs’ counties, they were denied the opportunity to have an unobstructed observation and ensure opacity,” Giuliani said. “I’m not quite sure I know what opacity means. It probably means you can see, right?”

“It means you can’t,” said U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann.

“Big words, your honor,” Giuliani said.

The New York Times reported that Giuliani asked the president’s campaign to pay him $20,000 per day for his work; Giuliani vehemently denied he was asking for that much. Apparently, some on Trump’s campaign wonder if they’re getting their money’s worth from Giuliani.

ADDENDA: Thanks to everyone who has purchased Hunting Four Horsemen. Folks at Amazon were impressed with how many positive reader reviews Between Two Scorpions received, so if you purchased HFH and enjoyed it, please share your assessment with the world! And if for some reason you didn’t enjoy it, as Rich says in the opening of The Editors podcast, “Please forget I said anything.” In some future edition of the Jolt, I’ll probably write about why people might not have enjoyed the novel . . .

. . . Back in early October, after some Trump fans put up a giant sign overnight on a hillside near the 405 freeway, I noted that just because certain states are near-certain to go blue and most big cities are Democratic-leaning, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of Trump supporters in those cities and blue states in terms of sheer numbers.

Ready for something mind-blowing? Right now, the California secretary of state’s office shows Trump won 5,865,477 votes in the Golden State. The Texas secretary of state’s office shows Trump won 5,860,096. That’s right, Trump won almost as many votes in California as he did in Texas.

Back in early October, I wrote, “The odds are good that this time around, Donald Trump will win hundreds of thousands of votes in L.A. County, and who knows, maybe he will hit a million.” In Los Angeles County, Trump has won 1,132,647 votes.


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