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

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.

Image credit: Christopher Graveline for Attorney General

Filed Under: #MichMash

This post is a part of 2018 Elections in Michigan.

On November 6, Michigan voters will decide who will be the state's new governor, attorney general and secretary of state. Some state House and Senate seats are up for grabs, and numerous initiatives are expected on ballots.

WDET is committed to providing honest, fair, inclusive coverage of Michigan's 2018 elections. Join us now and all the way to the voting booth to be an informed voter.


This post is a part of MichMash.

Each week, WDET's Jake Neher and Michigan Public Radio's Cheyna Roth un-jumble Michigan issues and talk about how statewide news stories affect you. 

About the Author

Jake Neher

Detroit Today - Producer & Special Projects Reporter

Jake Neher is a producer & reporter for Detroit Today

Jake.Neher@wdet.org   Follow @GJNeher

Cheyna Roth


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.

CRoth@MPRN.org   Follow @Cheyna_R

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