UAW official gives insider’s view of GOP’s Michigan election scheme
Republican election challengers observe as ballots are counted at the central counting board, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Detroit. As one of four Wayne County election commissioners, UAW official Allen Wilson got an insider's view of Republican attempts to throw out ballots in majority-Black Detroit. | Carlos Osorio / AP

There was vote-counting chaos in Michigan thanks to GOP Oval Office occupant Donald Trump, and top Auto Workers official Allen Wilson, assistant to union President Rory Gamble, didn’t like it, or the reason why.

In so many words, which African Americans around the nation, union and non-union, echo, it’s because of race. And Wilson had an insider’s view of Trump’s machinations, as one of the four election commissioners for Wayne County, Mich., which majority-Black Detroit dominates.

Trump tried to overturn the votes from big Democratic-run cities—Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh—plus Dane County, Wis., which is dominated by progressives working for the state government in the state capital of Madison and students at the long-time progressive stronghold of the University of Wisconsin.

In Wayne County, it didn’t escape Wilson’s notice that his two GOP colleagues on the four-member panel challenged the Black votes from Detroit, but not small tally discrepancies—one to three votes per precinct—from its white suburbs, he told UAW.

Trump pushed such challenges this year. He even called the two GOP Wayne County election commissioners to pressure them to produce a 2-2 tie on the panel.

Allen Wilson, Administrative Assistant to UAW President Rory L. Gamble. | UAW

Then Trump called in the Michigan legislature’s two GOP leaders to get lawmakers to certify statewide Electoral College votes for him if the Wayne County and state election boards refused to certify him, and not Democratic nominee Joe Biden, who won Michigan.

The GOP Wayne County election commissioners flip-flopped all the way through, but public pressure eventually forced one to certify all the Wayne County votes, including Detroit’s. The Michigan state elections commission followed suit and OK’d Biden’s electors. The two GOP legislative leaders refused Trump’s demand to have state lawmakers intervene.

“There has been a push from Trump and the GOP to disavow many votes cast. For the GOP to save face with Trump most have jumped on board with these false claims,” Wilson said. Trump’s operatives claimed there was fraud in Detroit, he said. But, as in their other fraud claims in the other cities and in Dane County, they produced no evidence.

It didn’t escape Wilson’s notice that when similar small discrepancies popped up in Detroit and its suburbs four years ago, Trump was silent. The difference? Then, Trump won Michigan by fewer than 15,000 popular votes. This time, Biden beat him by 10 times as much.

“The stench of partisanship was in the room. I told the Republicans and the media that I was appalled to be sitting here with my GOP colleagues who are trumpeting Donald Trump’s rallying cry to overturn the election he lost. It shows a disdain for the voting electorate in Detroit. It shows disdain for the largest African-American community in Wayne County. They tried to disenfranchise working families, union people,” Wilson said.

The GOP maneuvers to throw out African-American votes in Detroit were, for Wilson, another reason workers should give Trump’s party the heave-ho at the ballot box, now and in the future. “You need people, including political candidates, in places to support working men and women,” he said.

Read more:

Trump’s racist attacks on democracy open Pandora’s box for future suppression


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CONTRIBUTOR

Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of Press Associates Inc. (PAI), a union news service in Washington, D.C. that he has headed since 1999. Previously, he worked as Washington correspondent for the Ottaway News Service, as Port Jervis bureau chief for the Middletown, NY Times Herald Record, and as a researcher and writer for Congressional Quarterly. Mark obtained his BA in public policy from the University of Chicago and worked as the University of Chicago correspondent for the Chicago Daily News.

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