DETROIT — Republicans in Michigan’s most populous county on Tuesday declined to certify the election results from the heavily Democratic area around Detroit, a move that may prove to be temporary but that raised alarms among Democrats and elections experts as President Trump keeps up his assault on the nation’s elections system.
The Wayne County Board of Canvassers was deadlocked on Tuesday on certifying results in the county, which voted for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. by a margin of nearly 323,000 votes.
The two Republicans on the board said they had voted against certifying the results because many precincts in the county were out of balance by a few votes. Monica Palmer, one of the Republicans, suggested that the board would certify the county’s results without the totals from Detroit, where Mr. Biden won with 94 percent support.
“I do not have good faith that the poll books are accurate,” she said.
But others said the proposition that the county’s results be certified without Detroit was blatantly racist, especially when other cities in the county also had a large number of precincts out of balance.
“Monica Palmer sat there and said she’s willing to approve the results of the lily-white city of Livonia, which had the second-highest number of out-of-balance precincts, but she won’t certify the city of Detroit,” said Mark Brewer, an election law expert and the former chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party. “There is no reason to single out the city of Detroit for this racist treatment.”
Detroit is 78 percent Black, while Livonia’s Black population is 4.4 percent.
Jonathan C. Kinloch, a Democratic board member, added that the decision was partisan.
“This board over the years has taken pride in not letting politics show in the actions we do,” he said. “There is no reason under the sun for us to not certify this election.”
Ms. Palmer had asked to make a motion to “certify the results in the communities other than the city of Detroit,” but the two Democratic board members objected, asking why she wasn’t including other cities that had high numbers of unbalanced precincts. No vote was taken on the motion.
“To see my Republican comrades stonewall this is just incredulous to me,” said Allen Wilson, a Democratic member of the board.
The election results now move to Michigan’s Board of State Canvassers, which will complete the work that the Wayne County board could not finish. The state board also has a 2-2 Republican-Democratic split.
Jenna Ellis, a legal adviser to the Trump campaign, said explicitly on Tuesday that the goal was to enable Republican state legislators to choose Michigan’s electors even though Mr. Biden had clearly won the state — an extraordinary subversion of the democratic process. “Huge win for @realDonaldTrump,” Ms. Ellis tweeted in response to the deadlock.
The Republican members’ refusal to certify the results in Wayne County amounted to placing “partisan politics above their legal duty to certify the election results,” Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan said in a statement on Tuesday. “Today’s action is a blatant attempt to undermine the will of the voters. The process, however, will move forward.”
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson of Michigan said in a statement posted on Twitter that the Board of State Canvassers would be responsible for certifying the Wayne County results if the county board’s decision held.
“It is common for some precincts in Michigan and across the country to be out of balance by a small number of votes, especially when turnout is high,” she wrote. “Importantly, this is not an indication that any votes were improperly cast or counted.”
The Board of State Canvassers consists of two Democrats, Jeannette Bradshaw and Julie Matuzak, and two Republicans, Norman D. Shinkle and Aaron Van Langevelde.
Mr. Shinkle’s wife, Mary Shinkle, filed an affidavit in support of the Trump campaign’s lawsuit claiming there were voting irregularities in Wayne County. In the affidavit, she wrote that while working as a poll challenger in Detroit, she saw workers “scanning more than 50 ballots at a time” and not checking ballot envelopes against an electronic poll book.
Ms. Shinkle also complained in her affidavit that poll workers had been “extremely rude and aggressive” to her and other observers, that they had not allowed her to look over their shoulders as they processed ballots, and that envelopes and ballot stubs had not been securely stored.
Mr. Van Langevelde, the other Republican member of the Board of State Canvassers, is a former deputy legal counsel for the Michigan House’s Republican Policy office and a former prosecutor in Branch County.
The deadlock in Wayne County appeared to be a rare but perhaps temporary victory for President Trump, who, despite repeated losses in court and a string of baseless claims, has continued undaunted with a relentless legal, procedural and rhetorical assault on the U.S. election system.
This is a developing story. — Kathleen Gray, Maggie Astor and