Politics

Black Voters Sue Trump For Alleged Disenfranchisement & Repeating “Worst Abuses” In U.S. History

The lawsuit cites two Republicans in Wayne County, which includes the Black-majority population of Detroit, who tried to oppose certifying the election results.

Demonstrators hold a banner that says Black and Brown Votes Count, Detroit during the protest. Hundreds of people turned out for the "Michigan Fights Back! Protect the Vote" Rally and March that began and ended at the Detroit Department of Elections. | Getty Images
Demonstrators hold a banner that says Black and Brown Votes Count, Detroit during the protest. Hundreds of people turned out for the "Michigan Fights Back! Protect the Vote" Rally and March that began and ended at the Detroit Department of Elections. | Getty Images

A Michigan group is suing President Donald Trump and his campaign for allegedly attempting to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Black voters, repeating “the worst abuses in our nation’s history.”

Three Black Detroit residents who voted in this year’s election, along with advocacy group Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, filed the suit Friday in Washington, D.C. federal court. They are represented by NAACP Legal Defense Fund lawyers, Politico reported. The suit asks a judge to stop the president and his campaign from “continuing to exert pressure” on officials in Michigan, or any other state, to disenfranchise Black voters.

The suit comes as Trump and his allies are 2-34 in court over attempts to overturn the legitimate election results that found Democrat Joe Biden the winner, according to voting rights lawyer Marc Elias. In Michigan, Biden beat Trump by 150,000 votes, and the lawsuit cites two Republicans in Wayne County, which includes the Black-majority population of Detroit, who tried last week to oppose certifying the election results. The suit accuses Trump and his campaign of attempts to “coerce” and “threaten” officials into replacing electors. 

“Defendants’ tactics repeat the worst abuses in our nation’s history, as Black Americans were denied a voice in American democracy for most of the first two centuries of the Republic,” the lawsuit reads.

The suit continues: “President Trump and his campaign have repeatedly—and falsely—raised the specter of widespread fraud in Detroit and other cities with large Black populations, including Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Atlanta, in an effort to suggest votes from those cities should not be counted.”

Last week, the Wayne County Board of Canvassers met to certify the vote for their county in Michigan, which overwhelmingly voted for President-elect Biden. The two Democrats on the board voted to certify while the two Republicans opposed it. 

One of the Republicans, Monica Palmer, said, “I would be open to a motion to certify communities other than the city of Detroit,” without offering a valid legal explanation for why. 

In a blistering response, Michigan resident Ned Staebler called the board and said, “Probably, I know, Monica, you think Q told you to do this or some other crazy stuff,” referring to the QAnon conspiracy theory that is increasingly widespread among Trump supporters.

After being inundated with many similar outraged calls from members of the public who accused them of targeted, racist voter suppression, the Republicans changed their mind and moved to certify the votes after all, reversing that decision the next day (when it was too late). 
 

President Trump called Palmer himself as the pressure campaign grew. Trump also invited Republican Michigan state lawmakers to meet with him in Washington, D.C., last week, ostensibly to make his case for subverting the electoral process. 

After the meeting, the GOP lawmakers issued a joint statement that they would “follow the law” in certifying the state’s election results, in an apparent rebuke of the president’s attempts to undermine valid results. They also used the meeting to ask for federal funding to aid the state’s COVID-19 crisis.

The suit filed by Black voters in Michigan cites the Friday meeting as well as the president’s tweets as evidence for his alleged attempts to invalidate the election results.

Versha Sharma contributed to this report.