Michigan Board of Canvassers Deadlocks, Blocking 5 GOP Gov Candidates from Ballot

by Scott McClallen


The Michigan Board of Canvassers deadlocked on a 2-2 vote, blocking five GOP candidates from the Aug. 2, 2022 ballot, unless a court intervenes on their behalf.

The four-person bipartisan panel met to discuss the Bureau of Elections report that recommended disqualifying five candidates who apparently didn’t meet the 15,000 valid signature threshold because of 30 petitioners who allegedly submitted 68,000 fraudulent signatures.

The deadlock vote along party lines, barring legal intervention, means the following five governor candidates won’t be on the ballot, slashing the GOP field in half.

  • Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig: 10,192 facially valid signatures, 11,113 invalid signatures.
  • Perry Johnson: 13,800 facially valid signatures, 9,393 invalid signatures.
  • Michael Brown: 7,091 facially valid signatures, 13,809 invalid signatures.
  • Michael Markey: 4,430 facially valid signatures, 17,374 invalid signatures.
  • Donna Brandenburg: 6,634 facially valid signatures, 11,144 invalid signatures.

Michigan Director of Elections Jonathan Brater said ballots must be set by June 3, which triggers a two-week process to prepare for elections.

“No matter what the board does, we are going to have lawsuits,” Brater said, asking for a quick decision so the courts can process challenges. “The circulators here committed fraud. This was not a mistake.”

Brater said that staff checked about 7,000 signatures of about 68,000 from the allegedly fraudulent circulators against the qualified voter file.

Republican Canvasser Tony Daunt questioned the signature verification process but rejected claims that the MDOS targeted GOP signatures unfairly.

Republican Canvasser Norm Shinkle said fraudulent petition gatherers should go to prison but he didn’t want to shift the blame to the candidates.

Democratic Canvasser Mary Ellen Gurewitz claimed the burden of verifying valid signatures should land on the gubernatorial campaigns. The other Democrat, Jeannette Bradshaw, agreed.

Over a five-hour meeting, lawyers and some of the candidates themselves pushed back, claiming that the MDOS knew of the fraud in late March but didn’t tell candidates.

Brandenburg claimed her campaign submitted 27,000 signatures, but the state only claimed 17,000 and called the signature verification process an “arbitrary goat rodeo.”

A lawyer for Johnson, Jason Torchinsky, claimed the MDOS’s “broad-brush” rejection threw out valid signatures, citing an affidavit of a voter who claimed her signature was deemed as fraud.

Torchinsky claimed MDOS violated their due process by releasing the report at 8 p.m. on Monday before a Thursday meeting, and said they will be filing in court “tomorrow.”

The remaining GOP challengers are Tudor Dixon, Garrett Soldano, Ryan Kelley, Ralph Rebandt, and Kevin Rinke.

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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.


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