MichMash: ‘Sign Here!’ Signature Requirement for Independent Candidates Up In The Air

A federal judge riled state elections officials and fired up independents by ordering AG candidate Christopher Graveline on the ballot.

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WDET Digital

There will be an independent candidate for Michigan attorney general on the November ballot.

A federal judge recently ordered Michigan elections officials to put Christopher Graveline’s name on the statewide ballot after calling the state’s requirement that he collect 30,000 “completely arbitrary.”  That riled some elections officials, and called into question how many signatures future independent candidates will need to collect.

And as part of the weekly series MichMash, Cheyna Roth and Jake Neher talk about the big question mark the decision places over future races in Michigan.

Click on the audio player above to hear that conversation.

In months marked by a very divided Board of State Canvassers, last week they were all able to agree on one thing – they didn’t want to put Christopher Graveline on the ballot.  

But the federal court’s decision forced the board to do so.

“I will, under objection, make this motion,” said board member Julie Matuzak. “I think this is ridiculous and we should continue to explore this, because I’m sorry it’s so hard to get on the ballot in Michigan.”

Matuzak later had to clarify that her statement, “I’m sorry it’s so hard to get on the ballot in Michigan” was indeed sarcasm.

Graveline got to this point after he submitted about half of the necessary signatures to be on the ballot as an independent. His ballot request was denied, so he sued the state. He argued the number of signatures needed was too high – and he won. A federal judge said if Graveline had 5,000 valid signatures, which he did, the board had to put him on the ballot.

But the judge didn’t say specifically that the signature requirement was unconstitutional. The underlying lawsuit is still ongoing because the state doesn’t want to set a precedent…but it’s unclear what that outcome will be.

Authors

  • Cheyna has interned with Michigan Radio and freelanced for WKAR public radio in Lansing. She's also done some online freelancing and worked on documentary films.

  • Jake Neher is senior producer for Detroit Today and host of MichMash for 101.9 WDET. He previously reported on the Michigan Legislature for the Michigan Public Radio Network.