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Despite what he says in tweets, President Trump lost Michigan

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

President Donald Trump lost Michigan by 146,000 votes on Nov. 3, but he maintained his false claims Wednesday that he won the battleground state, an attempt to cast doubt on the election's unofficial results.

Trump's tweets came a day after the Wayne County Board of Canvassers voted 4-0 to certify the results in the state's largest county after initially deadlocking 2-2.

"The Great State of Michigan, with votes being far greater than the number of people who voted, cannot certify the election. The Democrats cheated big time, and got caught. A Republican WIN!" the president tweeted at about 11 a.m. Wednesday.

President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, in Washington.

All 83 counties certified their election results, according to the Board of State Canvassers, which canceled a scheduled Wednesday 1:30 p.m. meeting. The board of two Democrats and two Republicans is next scheduled to meet on Monday for a potential vote to certify Michigan's statewide election results.

It's unclear what Trump was specifically referencing. But there is no evidence that there were "far greater" votes than the number of people who voted in Michigan.

In Wayne County, where Trump has focused his scrutiny, 878,102 registered voters participated in the election, according to the unofficial results. The county has 1.4 million registered voters.

There were problems in Wayne County and other communities getting the number of voters tracked in specific poll books to match the number of ballots cast in specific precincts. However, it is not a new problem and occurred in the 2016 presidential election, which Trump won by 10,704 votes in Michigan.

Absentee ballot poll books at 70% of Detroit's 134 absentee counting boards were found to be out of balance without explanation, according to information presented at Tuesday's Wayne County Board of Canvassers meeting.

Election experts have maintained previously that out-of-balance precincts are similar to an accounting problem and not something that calls into question the results.

Out-of-balance boards are “absolutely” not evidence that something improper occurred, said Chris Thomas, Michigan’s former longtime elections director who is working with Detroit Clerk Janice Winfrey’s office.

Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum, a Democrat, said absentee counting boards could be left out of balance by something as simple as someone voting early and then moving within a jurisdiction to a new precinct.

The state has numerous procedures to safeguard elections from nefarious acts, such as  someone trying to cast a large number of fraudulent ballots, Byrum said.

"It is unfortunate that many, not just the Legislature, but also the president of the United States, are feeding into such conspiracy theories with no basis," Byrum said.

In the primary, about 72% of Detroit's absentee voting precincts were out of balance without explanation. The problems included ballots being put in the wrong tracking containers, Monica Palmer, one of the Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers, said in August.

During Tuesday's Wayne County Board of Canvassers meeting, an elections official said countywide, the precincts were out of balance by a few hundred votes. Trump lost Michigan by 146,000 votes statewide.

Detroit's vote-tracking problems in 2016 led to a Michigan Bureau of Elections audit of 136 of the city's most irregular precincts, which found an "an abundance of human errors" but no evidence of "pervasive voter fraud."

There were 216 questionable votes that resulted in a net over-vote of 40 ballots — or 40 more ballots cast than voters.

Trump also tweeted Wednesday that the two Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers had refused "to sign the papers," apparently referencing certification documents.

The two GOP members — Palmer and William Hartmann — voted to certify the results and didn't return requests for comment Wednesday on the president's tweets.

Board Vice Chairman Jonathan Kinloch, a Democrat, said his understanding was the vote was the key step.

Kinloch also said, "Nobody refused to sign."

cmauger@detroitnews.com