After a week of foolery in the process of certifying Michigan’s election results, which show the state going for decisively for President-elect Joe Biden over incumbent President Trump, Black Detroiters are fighting back against what they see as an attempt to disenfranchise them.
On Friday, the NAACP Legal Defence Fund (LDF) filed a lawsuit on behalf of three Black women from Detroit who voted in this year’s election and the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, accusing Trump and his campaign of violating the Voting Rights Act by trying to interfere in the certification of votes from the state.
The suit pinpoints this week’s attempt by two Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers to block the certification of votes from Detroit on the basis that there were discrepancies on the poll books from those precincts, despite being willing to certify votes from other precincts in the county that are majority white and showed similar discrepancies. Michigan’s Secretary of State has said that unbalanced precinct numbers are common, especially when turnout is high.
After being called out for racism and agreeing to certify all the votes from Wayne County, the two recalcitrant Republican canvassers said the next day that they wanted to rescind their decision to certify—with one admitting that she had received a call from Trump, notes the NAACP LDF’s suit. The complaint also outlines that on Friday, Trump called a meeting of Republican lawmakers from Michigan to meet with him and his campaign lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who has also spent the past week lambasting votes from Detroit as illegitimate.
“For two weeks, the president and his campaign have been spreading misinformation and making baseless accusations of voting irregularities in cities with large concentrations of Black voters who participated in record numbers in this election,” said NAACP LDF’s President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill in a release announcing the lawsuit against Trump and his campaign.
“Equally alarming have been the president’s attempts to pressure state and local officials in Michigan—first with a demand that votes in Detroit not be counted and now, more recently, urging officials to refuse to certify votes from Wayne County.”
Trump has made no effort to hide that he believes votes from Detroit specifically should be discounted, tweeting this week with absolutely no evidence that “voter fraud in Detroit is rampant, and has been for many years!” The city has a majority-Black population.
The NAACP LDF’s lawsuit claims the president and his campaign are violating the section of the Voting Rights Act which prohibits the intimidation, threatening, or coercion of any person for voting or attempting to vote, in this case by exerting pressure on state and local officials to not count or certify certain voters.
Though the Michigan lawmakers who met with Trump on Friday said that they “have not yet been made aware of any information that would change the outcome of the election in Michigan,” the Washington Post reports that the state’s Attorney General Dana Nessel is exploring whether they could be charged with a crime if they participated in the president’s attempt to interfere in the state’s electoral process, a violation of state law.
Michigan’s State Board of Canvassers will meet on Monday to certify the state’s election results.