In Wayne County MI two Republican canvassers objected to certifying results, deadlocking the certification. They backpedaled and then tried to backpedal again to the initial position of "Don't certify". This appears to be for partisan means, especially considering Michigan's margin for both Biden and Peters was provided by Wayne County alone.

Has there ever been an election certification denied or held up (in the US) for what seems to be partisan reasons? Note: they deny that this is partisan and cite irregularities in vote tallies which can happen and are usually historically from human error.

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    Note that they would say (are saying) that it is not partisanship driving their decision; while I personally agree that it's clearly partisan, I think it would be better just to ask for instances of election certification being denied in general. Nov 19, 2020 at 18:25
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    I should add that disclaimer. And I already did. Nov 19, 2020 at 18:27
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    Besides the famous one in 1876 when states sent competing sets of electors, which did prolong the process? Also what counts as "initially"? What if "finally" they did not change their minds? Nov 19, 2020 at 20:14
  • (Aside, the 1887 law which supposedly addressed this kind of situation has a famously confusing solution.) Nov 19, 2020 at 20:24
  • I mean by initially when the first vote happened. I will remove the word initially for clarity Nov 19, 2020 at 20:35

1 Answer 1


Not really. The 1876 election in Florida for example meets the spirit if not the letter of such marked partisanship. It's actually a loong story, but the main points are:

  • a Republican-majority (2:1) state canvassing board excluded some Democrat county boards' returns from the totals, alleging fraud or "irregular" returns from such Democratic-controlled counties. This decision gave both the governorship and the state electors to Republicans. (There were concurrent elections.)

  • The Florida supreme court, although having a similar Republican majority (2:1) gave a surprise 3:0 decision in favor of the Democrats, forcing a "ministerial" recount, in which the state board was not allowed to exercise judgement as to which county returns were fraudulent or irregular. Crucially, in order to avoid intervention by federal judges, the lawsuit in front of the Florida supreme court only concerned the governor's election, although the presidential election was conducted simultaneously. It's a somewhat complicated story why the Republican judges on the Florida Supreme supreme court gave this surprising judgement; the Republican board members refused to answer questions during the proceedings, not recognizing the court's authority. Furthermore, one of the Republican judges on the court had a strong personal animosity towards the Republican governor, who was running for re-election. Eventually the board acquiesced to the Court's decision so a Democratic governor was installed as the victor, but not before the outgoing Republican governor certified the results of presidential election in favor of the Republican candidate.

  • The new Democratic governor, with the cooperation of the Democratic-controlled state legislature appointed an entirely Democratic canvassing board, which certified a new set of electors, in favor of the Democratic candidate for presidency.

  • Eventually, the US Congress commission of 1877 voted on partisan lines (8:7) to accept the initial results sent by the Republican governor of Florida.

Reference: Jerrell H. Shofner, "Florida Courts and the Disputed Election of 1876", The Florida Historical Quarterly Vol. 48, No. 1 (Jul., 1969), pp. 26-46

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    This makes sense. I feel like this could be history repeating myself. Is it going to do this exact route? I don't think so. But as of writing we're gonna have to wait & see. Nov 20, 2020 at 0:20
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    @MichaelMormon: The 2020 election is nowhere near as close as the 1876 election (in terms of the electoral college). Trump would need to overturn a good four or five states in order to change the overall outcome, and there is frankly no evidence whatsoever that he will overturn even one. Yes, he has filed lawsuits. No, they are not going well for him.
    – Kevin
    Nov 20, 2020 at 5:31
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    That is true. And it is good to point that out for historical context. Nov 20, 2020 at 12:57

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