In an unprecedented move, the Michigan Secretary of State, which is currently led by Democrat Jocelyn Benson, has said that 5 out of the 10 GOP gubernatorial candidates to submit petitions do not have enough valid petition signature to make the ballot.
This includes the current Republican frontrunners, James Craig and Perry Johnson.
The bureau said in a report that it had tracked 36 petition circulators “who had submitted fraudulent petition sheets consisting entirely of invalid signatures.” The bureau said it was “unaware of another election cycle in which this many circulators submitted such a substantial volume of fraudulent petition sheets consisting of invalid signatures.”
“In total, the bureau estimates that these circulators submitted at least 68,000 invalid signatures submitted across 10 sets of nominating petitions,” the report said. “In several instances, the number of invalid signatures submitted by these circulators was the reason a candidate had an insufficient number of valid signatures.”
What’s striking is the lack of specificity given when it comes to how the Bureau of Elections made this recommendation. The initial challenge of the petitions was made by Democrats, who argued that any petition signature submitted by these fraudulent circulators should be thrown out.
Rather than look closely at each individual signature, it seems that the bureau went along with the widespread claims in the Democrats argument.
At least one of the Republican campaigns will be fighting the bureau’s recommendations.
“The staff of the Democrat Secretary of State does not have the right to unilaterally void every single signature obtained by the alleged forgers who victimized five campaigns,” said John Yob, General Consultant for Perry Johnson.
“We strongly believe they are refusing to count thousands of signatures from legitimate voters who signed the petitions and look forward to winning this fight before the Board, and if necessary, in the courts. According to MCL 168.544c(6) ‘The invalidity of 1 or more signatures on a petition does not affect the validity of the remainder of the signatures on the petition.’ They have the burden of proof on each and every signature,” Yob said.
The campaigns will have their first opportunity to fight the findings when a panel of the Board of State Canvassers meets on Thursday. 3 out of the 4 board members would have to go against the Bureau of Elections recommendation for the candidate to be put on the ballot.
However, if the candidates are not satisfied with the results, they will still have the opportunity to fight the findings in court.
It seems so far that because of the lack of specificity the Bureau of Elections has given, and opted to throw out signatures based on entire petition sheets rather than individual signatures, there could be GOP candidates with a very strong case to make the ballot.