DELTA COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) — The deadline to run in the May 2024 election for District 4 Commissioner in Delta County is Nov. 9 at 4 p.m., according to the county clerk’s office. The announcement comes as David Moyle continues his fight to get some signatures thrown out.
A recall petition effort targeting Commissioner David Moyle collected enough valid signatures last month. Local activists organizing as “Delta County Citizens for Ethical Leadership” began recall efforts earlier this year after Moyle voted to fire the county administrator. Recall efforts are also underway against commissioners Bob Barron and Robert Petersen, who joined Moyle in the majority vote.
In a speech to the commission and attendees at the Feb. 7 meeting, then-County Administrator Emily DeSalvo accused commissioners of acting for their own personal gain, a claim she bolstered with the commission’s Jan. 3 vote to discontinue the county’s Ethics Committee. Commissioner John Malnar was the sole “no” vote against that decision.
Enough signatures to get a recall on the ballot for Commissioner Petersen have been turned in, and the clerk is in the process of validating them. Signatures to forward Barron’s recall have been validated, but he has until Nov. 6 to file any challenges. If advanced, the deadline to file for that recall election may be as early as Nov. 17.
Clerk Nancy Przewrocki told Local 3 that Commissioner Moyle challenged over 300 specific signatures, only seven of which she approved to be disqualified. In Przewrocki’s opinion, the challenges were largely filed on the basis of a technicality—not a suspicion of fraud, which lead to the rejection of five people running to be the 2022 republican pick for governor after a widespread fraud scheme was uncovered.
Przewrocki said reasons to throw out the seven signatures included a missing date, or because the entire form had not been completed by the signee. That is not a requirement for other types of petitions. The clerk says while a signature on a ballot petition can still be valid if another person fills out the date or address fields, the Michigan Bureau of Elections is more strict with recall petitions.
The clerk said some petition entries told a story, like a shakily-written date an signature, followed by a well-penned address. “When you see someone having trouble, I can imagine it’s hard to not want to help,” Przewrocki said. She also said other examples of disqualified signatures included what appeared to be a husband or wife filling out the non-signature fields for their spouse.
When asked, Przewrocki said she is confident there was no fraudulent intent in the signature-gathering process.
Despite this, Moyle is continuing his challenge as he seeks an attorney opinion. The clerk said he is seeking to invalidate all of the 50-60 signatures collected by one specific circulator who he says turned in several invalid signatures. If his challenge is validated, it would drop the number of valid signatures below the threshold to put the recall on the ballot.
Moyle’s demand to toss both assumedly valid and invalid signatures collected by a single petition circulator is precedented by the state’s move in 2022, where swaths of signatures were tossed after inspectors found circulators had, “in some cases, rather than attempting varying signatures, the circulator would intentionally scrawl illegibly. In other instances, they circulated petition sheets among themselves, each filling out a line,” according to the Bureau of Elections.
Republican strategist John Yob blasted the state after the decision saying in a tweet, “Democrat Secretary of Staff does not have the right to unilaterally void every single signature obtained by the alleged forgers who victimized five campaigns. 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.”
In its report explaining the disqualification of then-candidate James Craig’s signatures, the bureau says it reviewed each petition sheet and named 18 fraudulent-petition circulators. Each name in the report is accompanied by the number of fake signatures, ranging from 19 to 1,985.
It is unclear when an answer will come to Moyle’s argument to change the signature count. As of now the recall vote is on the calendar, and registered voters in Precinct 1 or 3 of the City of Escanaba have until Nov. 9 to file as a candidate running to take over the position.