Five Republican candidates for governor were disqualified by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers because of invalid signatures. These include James Craig, former Detroit Police Chief, and Perry Johnson, a wealthy businessman.
Although the vote to disqualify was tied at 2-2 between the parties, there was no affirmative majority vote. Therefore, the names of the candidates will not appear on the ballot.
Investigators for the board discovered that 36 petition circulators representing 10 candidates in different races had committed intentional forgery by signing random names on petition sheets. Sixty-eight thousand fraudulent signatures were submitted by the 36 circulators.
Although the matter is being taken to court, time is becoming increasingly short. The deadline to complete the ballots for the August 2 primary is June 3.
MLive: This was a debate about an interpretation of MCL 168.544c state law. It concerns how the Michigan Bureau of Elections handled the petitions.
They reviewed each signature but only 7,000 of the 68,000 signatures were double-checked. None of them were correct.
The candidates however argue that the state must review all 68,000 signatures and not discard signatures because they were from fraudulent circulators – MCL 168.544c states.
The law says that the invalidity of one or more signatures on a petition will not affect the validity and legality of the rest of the signatures.
Donna Brandenburg, a well-known businesswoman, described the state’s process as a “shame”, and an “assault against the American people at every level.”
She said, “I find this process to have been an arbitrary goat rodeo.”
While the disqualified candidates can file a case, the court must decide if they will be allowed to have valid signatures in order to appear on the ballot. They were 3800 signatures shy of qualifying. This means they would need to hustle to follow the law.
One candidate was rightly upset that the board had tarnished his reputation. Michael Markey Jr. felt that the board was far too lenient in accusing the five candidates of fraud.
Markey stated that he should not be associated with other candidates because he used another company to collect signatures. These are serious accusations against Markey, according to the Grand Haven financial advisor. It is not appropriate for the process to assume that some signatures are invalid.
“You have accused me of fraud”. Markey stated that “it was a serious accusation and one I don’t think you guys took lightly”. “It was a huge blow to my career”. “Normal people don’t run”.
It is possible to blame the candidates for not properly verifying the company collecting the signatures. It’s not unreasonable to assume that they should have reviewed all signatures submitted.
The courts may decide to delay the June 3, due date, or force the Board of Canvassers into examining each signature for validity.