A Michigan man became an internet sensation after delivering a viral address excoriating the Republican members of a state election board who refused to certify vote counts for several key cities on Tuesday—a decision they quickly reversed after being inundated with criticism.
Monica Palmer and William Hartmann, the two Republican members of the four-person Wayne County Board of Canvassers, initially announced that they would not certify the county’s vote totals on Tuesday, the state deadline to do so, the New York Times reports. Wayne County is home to Detroit, a majority-Black city that proved pivotal in President-elect Joe Biden’s Michigan electoral victory.
At one point, Palmer made a motion to “certify the results in the communities other than the city of Detroit,” a bald-faced attempt to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Black voters.
The two Democratic members of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers voted to certify the election results, leading to a stalemate. At the invitation of Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), hundreds of Michigan residents flooded the election board’s Zoom meeting to air their grievances and demand they certify the election results.
Among the dissenting Zoom callers was Ned Staebler, president and CEO of TechTown, a Detroit-based business startup incubator. Staebler eviscerated Palmer and Hartmann for their efforts to disenfranchise voters of color and delegitimize the election results in a cathartic, two-minute address.
“We also know that the secretary of state and the attorney general have already tweeted out that your legal arguments are rubbish, and you’re going to lose when it comes to court,” Staebler said. “You talked about not certifying Detroit even though you acknowledged that Livonia—a city, by the way, I know you know is 95% white—had bigger variances than Detroit, which is 80% Black.”
Staebler was just getting started. For the remainder of his address, he pivoted from calling out the hypocrisy of Palmer and Hartmann’s vote to attacking their character directly:
I just want to let you know that the Trump stink—the stain of racism that you, William Hartmann and Monica Palmer have just covered yourself in—is going to follow you throughout history. Your grandchildren are going to think of you like Bull Connor or George Wallace. Monica Palmer and William Hartmann will forever be known in Southeastern Michigan as two racists who did something so unprecedented that they disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of Black voters in the city of Detroit because they were ordered to. Probably, I know, Monica, you think Q told you to do it or some other crazy stuff like that. But just know when you try to sleep tonight that millions of people around the world now on Twitter know the name Monica Palmer and William Hartmann as two people completely racist and without an understanding of what integrity means or a shred of human decency. The law isn’t on your side. History won’t be on your side. Your conscience will not be on your side. And Lord knows when you go to meet your maker, your soul is going to be very, very warm.
Staebler’s commentary was scathing, but not necessarily exaggerated. A recent Twitter thread contains numerous screenshots of racist, transphobic, and anti-liberal memes that Hartmann has shared on his Facebook page.
Almost instantly, Staebler’s message became an internet phenomenon. In 12 hours, it has received nearly 8,000 upvotes on the r/PublicFreakout subreddit, and it has earned millions of views on Twitter, where numerous popular accounts have shared the video.
More importantly, it worked. After facing three hours of criticism from Michiganders, the Wayne County Board of Canvassers muted the Zoom call for about five minutes. When they returned, they informed the meeting participants that they had just voted unanimously to certify Wayne County’s election results.
Staebler did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment, but he celebrated the accomplishment on Twitter and praised his fellow Michiganders for inspiring the election board’s vote reversal.
“Folks. I appreciate the love, but it wasn't me that got the Wayne County Board of Canvassers to reverse their decision,” Stabler tweeted. “It was US. And, mostly it was powerful people of color demanding their rights!”