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GOP signature fraud appeal gets accelerated pace from state appeals court

GOP Gubernatorial Petition Signatures
Michigan Bureau of Elections staff
Three GOP gubernatorial candidates blocked from the primary ballot by Michigan's Board of State Canvassers are asking a court to reinstate them. Staff at the state Bureau of Elections has recommended they be kept off the ballot over "suspicious patterns indicative of fraud" in their signature-gathering.

Three Republicans have now filed legal challenges to a decision that kept them off the August gubernatorial primary ballot. That’s after Michael Markey filed his case Monday with the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Markey’s campaign used the court’s electronic portal to file on a state holiday. Republicans James Craig and Perry Johnson have also filed challenges. The candidates were kept off the ballot based on what state elections bureau staff say appear to be thousands of forged signatures gathered by paid petition circulators.

Markey’s attorneys argue that he should be allowed on the ballot because the candidate had no direct knowledge of petition fraud, and that the Bureau of Elections was too aggressive in policing the petitions.

"The Bureau is under no obligation to uncover all possible fraud and has no right or authority to be over-inclusive in its quest to do so; neither statute nor any lawful administrative proceeding allowed the Bureau to create a procedure it admits is novel and goes against the plain language of multiple statutes," their filing says.

Republicans James Craig and Perry Johnson have also filed challenges.

The case filed by Perry Johnson — who’s billed himself as the “Quality Guru” — has been placed on a very fast track to get an appeals court decision as soon as this week.

The state has to file its response Tuesday and any reply must also be filed Tuesday, and the court does not have to wait for that response. Judges could decide to do the same with the other two cases. Decisions by the lower courts could, and likely will, wind up before the Michigan Supreme Court.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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