LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan Board of State Canvassers on Thursday deadlocked over whether five Republican gubernatorial candidates whose petition signatures are in question should appear on the August primary.
The board is made up of two Republicans and two Democrats. At a meeting in Lansing, they voted 2-2 along party lines on all five candidates.
The decision means that as of Thursday, Donna Brandenburg, Michael Brown, James Craig, Michael Markey and Perry Johnson‘s names will not appear on the ballot. But legal challenges from at least some of the candidates are nearly guaranteed, so what the ballot will actually look like remains in question.
“We’ll file a lawsuit,” Markey promised. “This isn’t the fight I wanted to take but when you don’t follow due process and due diligence, we have to fight it.”
In a statement, Craig also promised a lawsuit.
“We are disappointed in the Board of Canvassers decision, but we are not surprised the partisan Democrats on the committee ruled against Michigan voters. 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,” his statement said in part. “We are confident that when the law is justly applied, our campaign will be on the ballot this August.”
An investigation by Michigan’s election bureau found thousands of fraudulent signatures among multiple campaigns. The bureau said that Brandenburg, Brown, Craig, Markey and Johnson did not file enough valid signatures. That’s half of the 10 candidates vying for the Republican party’s nomination.
The Bureau of Elections said the campaigns submitted thousands of fake signatures. It said there were clear signs of fraud, like using the same handwriting for multiple signatures, voter names being misspelled, identical pages and even using names of deceased people.
In his statement, Craig said the Bureau of Elections “did not perform its legal obligation to reject signatures on a line-by-line basis.”
“Rather, they rejected whole pages based on their own determination of fraud,” the statement alleged. “In addition to the BOE not performing it’s (sic) duties according to Michigan law, the BOE chose to withhold the suspicion of fraud from the campaign’s until two days before their public hearing.”
At the canvassers’ meeting, Bradenburg’s attorney said she found out about the allegations through news reports. Craig’s statement said the same.
“I find this process to be an arbitrary goat rodeo,” Bradenburg said. “It’s an assault against the American people.”
During public comment, state Rep. Matt Maddock, R-Milford, argued that “Michigan voters deserve to have these candidates on the ballot.”
Director of Elections Jonathan Brater said before the vote that regardless of its outcome, there would be lawsuits. He emphasized importance of the June 3 deadline to have candidates finalized so ballots can be printed in time.
The GOP gubernatorial primary is on Aug. 2. The general election is on Nov. 8.
—News 8’s Jacqueline Francis contributed to this report.