On Thursday, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers came to a split decision resulting in the removal of five Republican gubernatorial candidates from the ballot.
The decision came after finding that the petition circulators assigned by the candidates submitted fraudulent signatures, the Bureau of Elections said the gubernatorial hopefuls fell short of the needed 15,000 signatures to appear on the ballot for the primary election.
The Daily Wire reports:
The board, made up of two Republicans and two Democrats, made the decisions after the Michigan Bureau of Elections recommended barring five candidates from the ballot Monday night. After finding that the petition circulators assigned by the candidates submitted fraudulent signatures, the Bureau of Elections said the gubernatorial hopefuls fell short of the needed 15,000 signatures to appear on the ballot for the primary election in August.
“There’s nothing to suggest there are valid signatures,” Michigan Elections Director Jonathan Brater told the board in a hearing Thursday morning. “It’s not a place that anybody wants to be. It’s a terrible thing for our state, and it’s an attack on our election system.”
Craig responded to the decision barring him from the ballot and promised to take the issue to court.
Brater testified that his team checked 7,000 out of 68,000 signatures that they suspected of being fraudulent, and found that none of them were legitimate.
Attorney George Lewis, who represents Craig, fought back, claiming the Bureau of Elections violated state law by not checking every single signature they suspected of being fraudulent. Lewis also said he has affidavits from 15 voters, who signed on suspected fraudulent petition sheets, claiming they legitimately signed their name.
Following Craig’s attorney’s testimony, Republican board member Tony Daunt conceded he believes the signatures are “probably fraudulent,” but wasn’t convinced if it would be possible to count every signature by June 3.
“My gut tells me these are probably fraudulent … but I cannot base these important decisions on assumptions,” Daunt said.
Capital management CEO Donna Brandenburg, another GOP gubernatorial candidate, called the Bureau of Elections’ process “an arbitrary goat rodeo,” and her attorney argued that candidates did not get any notice of the alleged fraudulent signatures when the Bureau of Elections became aware of them in March. This coincides with GOP candidate Michael Brown’s team claiming it did not receive any notice of fraudulent signatures until after 8 p.m. ET on Monday.
Republican front runner James Craig along with businessman Perry Johnson, capital management CEO Donna Brandenburg, financial adviser Michael Markey, and Michigan State Police Captain Michael Brown will be barred from appearing on the ballot.