A couple days ago, all four members of the Board of Canvassers of Wayne County, Michigan voted to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential Election. Now the two Republican members of the committee have issued signed affidavits saying they want to rescind their votes to certify.

My question is, do they have the ability to rescind their votes to certify, or is it too late at this point?

2 Answers 2


Under conventional wisdom, no, they can't. The certification deadline was Tuesday, 14 days of the election, by state law. Further, there's no apparatus I'm aware of by which they can rescind a vote that wasn't otherwise invalid (e.g. pressured illegally to vote a certain way), anyway. Even if they did rescind their votes, the state of Michigan would certify the results in lieu of a certification at the county level.

However, I mentioned before 'under conventional wisdom'. This isn't Law.SE, so I haven't gone into what relevant law might say. There are a number of lawsuits currently being attempted in order to stop or change the Wayne County certification process. Any one of them could result in a court ruling to re-do something, if a judge decides to take up the case (so far, I think all of some two dozen lawsuits by the Trump campaign or their supporters to overturn, stall, etc. the results of various voting processes have been either dropped or rejected by the courts).

To provide a bit of context, the two Republican members of the certification board were apparently advised by their legal counsel (according to local reporting) to vote to approve the certification 'under condition of an audit' being performed afterward. After they did so, the Michigan Secretary of State announced they did not consider that condition to be legally-binding, and so dismissed the notion. Because of that dismissal, the two Republican members of the certification board have signed sworn statements indicating they regret their prior vote in favor of certification, and wish to rescind said vote.

Whether said affidavits have any legal weight on the process is a matter for the courts to decide, if they so choose. If they do not, or if we reach a point where Donald Trump has conceded the race or where Joe Biden has been sworn in as the next President, then the argument will be moot. Even if they do, it's unlikely to effect a change at the scale needed to cause Biden to lose the state of Michigan.

  • In re: "Even if they did rescind their votes, the state of Michigan would certify the results in lieu of a certification at the county level". What state law provision makes this substitution possible?
    – Fizz
    Nov 19, 2020 at 17:45
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    @Fizz Section 168.822 of Michigan Election Law says "[...] (2) 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 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."
    – TylerH
    Nov 19, 2020 at 18:58
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    @Fizz My sources for this answer are reporting by the New York Times and The Detroit News, among other news articles reported in the past several days.
    – TylerH
    Nov 19, 2020 at 19:01
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    They do claim they were illegally pressured. They were both also doxxed on Twitter shortly after voting to not certify but before the 2nd vote.
    – Ryan_L
    Nov 20, 2020 at 1:13
  • @Ryan_L It's... quite hard for a public official to claim public comment as "illegal pressure". Also, while it's certainly disgraceful, doxxing isn't illegal. Not to mention their personal email addresses are publicly listed on the Wayne County website. At any rate, discussion about what would rise to the point of illegal pressure is a question for the courts, or at least Law.SE, not Politics.SE.
    – TylerH
    Nov 20, 2020 at 14:10

This is a legal/parliamentary question, however I would offer a parliamentary type answer. My suspicion is that the board would have to move to recalling the question. If there are two members who want to recall the question, there would likely be no problem to proceed to a vote on recall. Since there are two members who want to recall and two who do not, the vote on reconsideration would fail as a majority is required to pass the motion. (assuming that none of the members changes their mind ..... again

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