Perry Johnson files lawsuit after being removed from Michigan primary governor ballot
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Business owner Perry Johnson filed a lawsuit Friday to try to get on Michigan’s August primary ballot, the first of many likely legal challenges after five Republican candidates for governor were barred because of too few valid petition signatures.
Johnson’s campaign claims the State of Michigan Bureau of Elections broke the law by failing to check every single signature before disqualifying him.
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“They failed to carry their burden of establishing the invalidity of enough of Mr. Johnson’s signatures by clear, competent and convincing evidence,” the lawsuit states.
The bipartisan Board of State Canvassers, voted Thursday that Johnson -- along with James Craig, Donna Brandenburg, Michael Brown and Michael Markey -- be disqualified, following a recommendation from the state elections bureau, which said Monday it found thousands of forged or fraudulent signatures on petitions the candidates submitted.
The state elections bureau estimates total of at 68,000 invalid signatures were submitted across the 10 Republican candidates from 36 fraudulent petition circulators. The bureau said checked every signature on every sheet submitted and then double-checked 7,000 suspected forgeries against the Qualified Voter Files and “did not identify any signatures that appeared to be submitted by a registered voter.”
Brown ended his campaign and said he didn’t want to be associated with election fraud.
According to the the elections bureau, the “unprecedented number of fraudulent petition sheets” with invalid signatures and “the fact that the same fraudulent-petition circulators submitted petition sheets for many different candidates, it was not practical to review these sheets individually during the course of ordinary face review and challenge processing.”
The 336 page lawsuit alleges that disqualifying sheets with invalid signatures could have also removed valid signatures. The bureau, in its report of the petitions, said staff conducted a “targeted signature check” to verify the petition sheets did not include valid signatures from registered voters.
The bureau said Johnson turned in 13,800 valid signatures, below the 15,000 needed to make the August Primary. His campaign submitted 23,193 signatures and 9,393 were deemed invalid.
In its report, the bureau said its staff identified a number of fraudulent signatures, including 66 signatures from dead people, 98 duplicate signatures, 47 entries without a signature and other issues.
The full report from the State of Michigan Bureau of Elections can be read below. The complaint filed by the Johnson Campaign can be read below the report.
Former Detroit Police Chief Craig and Markey have indicated they will also sue in an effort to make it onto the August Primary.
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