The Michigan Board of State Solicitors is due to meet Thursday to determine who will appear on the ballot for the 2022 gubernatorial primary election in August after five GOP candidates allegedly failed to submit enough nomination signatures.
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Michigan’s Board of Elections reported Monday that five out of 10 Republican candidates hoping to run against current Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had not submitted enough valid signatures to qualify for the August primary.
Each candidate must submit 15,000 valid signatures to qualify to run in the primary elections. During its investigation, the state election office said it found thousands of signatures to be invalid and fraudulent across five Republican campaigns.
The office recommends that GOP candidates James Craig, Perry Johnson, Michael Brown, Donna Brandenburg and Michael Markey not appear on the August ballot. The Michigan Board of State Solicitors will make the final decision, though experts say the board generally follows the bureau’s recommendations.
The four-member bipartisan council is due to meet on Thursday May 26 to consider the bureau’s findings.
On Monday, the office said it found more than 11,000 signatures from Craig and more than 9,000 from Johnson invalid. More than 42,000 fraudulent signatures are said to have been dumped from the campaigns of Brown, Brandenburg and Markey. Craig and Johnson are two of the leading GOP candidates running for governor of Michigan in 2022.
The bureau’s findings were announced weeks after the Michigan Democratic Party and a super PAC linked to GOP candidate Tudor Dixon challenged the validity of signatures submitted by several Republican candidates, alleging mass tampering. The office said Monday that its investigation and findings were independent of those challenges, though their reports were similar to those of other groups.
The Michigan Democratic Party estimates that a number of petitioners who have worked for more than one GOP candidate — at least Craig, Johnson, and Dixon — have all forged thousands of signatures using a process called “round robining.” “. Through this process, a small group of individuals take turns writing names, addresses, and fake signatures on different lines on multiple petition sheets using a list of real voters, hoping that the variation in handwriting makes the petition genuine.
Read more: Details: Why petitions for 3 Michigan GOP gubernatorial candidates are contested
Craig, Johnson and Dixon denounced the challenges made against them and the validity of their petitions.
On Tuesday, Republican candidate Brown announced he was dropping out of the race altogether, saying he “would not be associated with this activity” and would leave the race with his integrity intact. In a statement posted on his campaign website, Brown says those responsible for circulating his nomination petitions “jumped onto other campaigns and grabbed money” after he finished collecting signatures for his campaign.
The state’s office of elections says it currently has no reason to believe that “specific candidates or campaigns were aware of the activities of the fraudulent petition distributors.”
If the board agrees with the bureau’s recommendations and excludes all five nominees from the ballot, the five qualified GOP nominees would include Dixon, Garrett Soldano, Kevin Rinke, Ryan Kelley and Ralph Rebandt.
You can read Michigan Elections Bureau reports on Craig and Johnson below.
After: Michigan Office: 2 Short Signatures of Top GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Due to Fraud
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