According to CNN:

two Republican members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers want to "rescind" their votes to certify the presidential results from the county, the largest in Michigan and home to the city of Detroit, even though the board has already certified the results.

They both sent sworn affidavits to the county's attorney disavowing their previous votes to certify. But given that the deadline for county certification has already passed, it is unclear what legal remedy or legitimate argument these two Republican officials can make to formally rescind their votes and undo the certification.

Republican Chair Monica Palmer and Republican board member William Hartmann had initially voted against certification during their Tuesday night meeting, leaving the board in a 2-2 deadlock. After hours of public pressure and complaints that they were brazenly disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of voters from the majority-Black city of Detroit, the Republicans changed their votes and the certification passed unanimously.

Democratic Vice Chair Jonathan Kinloch said on Thursday that the county certification date of November 17 is a definitive deadline and that board members' votes cannot be changed after the fact.

The CNN story doesn't mention any historical precedents of vote certification being rescinded (or even attempted) before in a US election. So, did it happen, i.e. were there prior cases when board members tried to rescind their certification votes, and was this successful?

  • 2
    So far as I can tell, this did not happen in NC-9 in 2018, which seems like the most recent case where something like this could have taken place. But some other funny business did happen after a court dissolved the elections board halfway through the crisis.
    – Kevin
    Nov 19, 2020 at 17:44
  • Honest questions - possibly unanswerable - is certification under duress valid? It seems that the public comment portion was quite the toxic event, put mildly. Second, were the votes actually certified or did the two GOP people simply agree to certify at a later time only to rescind that commitment? I can't find straight answers to these questions.
    – acpilot
    Nov 19, 2020 at 23:33
  • 1
    @acpilot As a matter of general law, commitments under duress are not valid - but public scorn during a comment period is not duress, it's par for the course. Duress would require an immediate, credible threat tied to the action taken. Jun 23, 2021 at 14:38

1 Answer 1


Once the vote to certify has been cast, that vote is final. There's no mechanism to rescind short of a lawsuit to invalidate/overturn the entire process.

The safety mechanism here, aside from trying to have a higher court invalidate the whole thing, would be for those people who wish to rescind their certification votes to submit that fact to the next step in the certification chain - in this case the State board's certification vote. Their positions may be evidence that convinces state-level election officials to not certify the results in the whole state, if the evidence is convincing enough.

I can find no record of this having ever happened.

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