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The Board of State Canvassers has ruled that five Republican gubernatorial candidates don’t have enough valid petition signatures to make it onto the August primary ballot.
“It’s been one of the wildest races,” says Craig Mauger, a reporter with The Detroit News. He covered the Board of Canvassers meeting on Thursday when the board deadlocked across party lines to accept recommendations from the state Bureau of Elections that the candidates be blocked from the ballot because of apparent forgeries. That means the five candidates, including the two frontrunners James Craig and Perry Johnson, were disqualified from the August primary ballot. The other candidates who have been disqualified are Donna Brandenburg of Byron Center, Michael Brown of Stevensville and Michael Markey of Grand Haven. Brown dropped out of the race this week.
“The Bureau of Elections went through the candidates’ signatures … and they found what they described as an unprecedented wave of forgeries,” Mauger says. “Circulators have allegedly forged 68,000 petition signatures, according to the Bureau of Elections, and the question before the Board of Canvassers Thursday was whether those candidates caught up in this wave of petition forgery should have their names on the ballot or not.”
Mauger says it’s likely some or all of the candidates will challenge the board’s decision in court — and they have a very good argument. “Their argument is the Bureau of Elections did not individually invalidate every signature,” Mauger says. “The bureau is acknowledging that they did not examine every individual signature. That is a potential problem for the bureau.”
Mauger adds, “It’s going to be up to up to the courts to decide this.”
On Friday, Johnson asked the state appeals court to order the Board of State Canvassers to put him on the ballot. Craig and Markey have also indicated they plan to take the issue to court.