Republican Candidates Banned From Ballot After Fraud Discovered

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Five Republican candidates in the ongoing GOP primary for the Michigan governorship were stricken from the ballot this week by the Michigan Board of State Canvassers. The candidates ended up with this fate amid a scandal involving the submission to authorities of tens of thousands of apparently invalid signatures associated with the candidates originally getting on the ballot. Removing invalid signatures from the mix brought these candidates’ totals below required levels.

Litigation seems set to follow that Michigan state board’s decision. For what sounds like each of the five candidates, the state board’s two Democrats opposed their inclusion on the ballot, while the board’s two Republicans supported it. Appearing on the ballot requires the support of a majority of board members. The five contenders whose electoral futures were put in serious jeopardy this week include prominent candidates James Craig, who’s an ex-Detroit police chief, and businessman Perry Johnson. “It is a travesty that partisans in a position to uphold democracy and the will of the people allowed politics to get in the way,” Craig insisted. Craig also said he’d be going to court. “The way this bureau deviated from its historical practice is unprecedented, and I think the arguments laid out by the challengers should have their time in court… This is about fighting against voter disenfranchisement and for choice at the ballot box,” Ron Weiser, chair of the Michigan GOP, added.

John Yob, who works with Johnson, also insisted the businessman’s campaign is prepared to go to court. “We strongly believe they are refusing to count thousands of signatures from legitimate voters who signed the petitions and look forward to winning this fight before the Board, and if necessary, in the courts,” he said. It’s not clear that there’s any legitimate evidence that “thousands” of signatures from legitimate voters were left uncounted by state authorities, although the Michigan Bureau of Elections — which prepared a report on the matter before the canvassing board voted this week — apparently didn’t examine each and every individual signature. Instead, they indicated they “isolated those sheets submitted by petition circulators whose work they determined was fraudulent, and conducted “a targeted signature check” to confirm that the circulators’ submissions were in fact full of fraudulent entries,” as Talking Points Memo explains.

The elections bureau — the entity that worked on this matter before the canvassing board took it up — indicated it found no evidence implicating the affected candidates in the fraudulent signature scheme, although the eligibility of these candidates to run was affected. A company called Vanguard Field Strategies — singled out by Craig in an interview — confirmed 18 people identified by Michigan authorities as involved in the fraudulent signature scheme were involved with a subcontractor it brought on to assist with gathering signatures. The president at Vanguard declined to name that subcontractor but said his company hadn’t paid any of the individuals. A Trump-touted gubernatorial candidate could benefit from all of this — Tudor Dixon, who Trump referred to as “fantastic” when rallying supporters in Michigan last month, has expressed support for the conspiracy theory that Biden wasn’t the rightful winner of the 2020 presidential election, and she wasn’t among the contenders disqualified this week.