Detroit leaders admonish Wayne County Board of Canvassers after contentious vote certification

Leaders from Detroit and the city's NAACP branch admonished members of the Wayne County Canvassers Board Wednesday afternoon, following an initial tie on certifying election results in Detroit before two of the board members reversed their decision.

Both Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Rev. Wendell Anthony delivered harsh criticism of the process, with Duggan arguing it was "impossible to overlook the racial element" of the vote. 

"American Democracy cracked last night, but it didn't break," said Duggan. "We are seeing a real threat to everything we believe."

"The whole principle of the constitution is one person one vote. Everybody's vote counts the same. But what you are seeing in this country right now is an effort to say we only want to count the votes of people who agree with us," added the mayor.

From a macro perspective, Duggan is referring to the wave of litigation brought to swing states like where lawsuits challenging the legitimacy of the election results have targeted cities where a large majority of absentee ballots swayed the vote total.

In Wisconsin, the Trump campaign is seeking a recount in only counties where the cities Milwaukee and Madison are located - places where Democrat Joe Biden won by a large majority. In Pennsylvania, the president's lawyer Rudy Giuliani has targeted election processes in Philadelphia, where absentee vote totals put Biden in the lead in that state for good.

And in Michigan, where lawsuits from the Trump campaign have targeted votes cast out of Detroit. While several legal challenges have been brought to both state and federal court, none have made much progress as allegations of voter fraud have not turned up any evidence.

Then, late Wednesday afternoon, Republicans on the Wayne County Canvassers Board voted against certifying the vote in Detroit.

At the heart of the disagreement were discrepancies between the number of absentee votes cast and the number of votes counted. During a Wednesday press conference, Duggan said it's common for discrepancies to occur during tabulation.

The majority of out-of-balance counts from precincts were off by between one and three votes. 

"The idea that the out-of-balance precincts reflects any problems with the voting is utter nonsense," said Duggan.

RELATED: Wayne County Board of Canvassers vote to certify election results but with an audit of unexplained precincts

"And the total number of out-of-balance counts was 357 in a city that 250,000 votes. In other words, 99.9% was done correctly," he added.

This would be a significant number if the election in Michigan was decided by a few hundred votes. However, Biden has an unofficial lead of 145,000 votes over Trump, 14 times larger than Trump's win in the state four years ago.

After the Michigan primary election in August, more than 70% of Detroit's precincts showed these discrepancies. While criticism of the inconsistencies followed, the county canvassing board certified the results. 

To help prevent issues from coming up during the general election, the secretary of state assigned a former election chief to oversee the counting process. Protections were put in place to ensure that both Republicans and Democrats had a transparent viewing of the process.

The public outcry on Wednesday grew to a boil following the tie vote and hours later the two Republican board members changed their vote, amounting to a unanimous 4-0 decision. However, it came with a caveat that the secretary of state would administer an independent audit of the Wayne County vote.