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The two most popular Republicans running against Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are not eligible to be placed on the ballot after the Michigan Bureau of Elections claimed they did not submit enough valid signatures.
Fox News reported Tuesday that former Detroit Police Chief James Craig and businessman Perry Johnson, the two most prominent GOP contenders vying to unseat Whitmer, allegedly failed to qualify:
Gubernatorial candidates are required to submit 15,000 valid signatures to appear on the state ballot. According to the bureau, the affected candidates were victimized via a series of petitioners who obtained nothing but invalid or otherwise unusable signatures, putting them well below the mark.
“Michigan’s petition process is fatally flawed because it easily allows criminals to victimize candidates for public office and their thousands of supporters who legitimately sign petitions,” Johnson said of the situation in a campaign statement Monday.
“We must bring quality to the petition process by allowing campaigns a mechanism to compare signatures that are gathered by circulators with signatures on the Qualified Voter File to ensure their legitimacy,” the statement continued.
“Criminals can commit fraud for money or by purposely infiltrating a victimized campaign with illegitimate signatures in a Machiavellian attempt by the opposing party to later have them removed from the ballot,” Johnson continued.
“Unfortunately, the signatures provided to campaigns cannot currently be checked until after their submission to the Secretary of State. This needs to change, immediately,” he added.
Michigan elections bureau says GOP frontrunner for governor and 4 others are ineligible for ballot due to fraudulent and invalid petition signatures https://t.co/6T39PQvOYj
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) May 24, 2022
Michigan Bureau of Elections says top GOP gubernatorial candidates ineligible for ballothttps://t.co/MzvCtCocgp
— Fox News (@FoxNews) May 24, 2022
The state elections agency announced its decision on Monday after officials there reviewed the signatures and other materials submitted by both of the candidates.
The agency said that it tracked the fake or invalid signatures to around three dozen petitioners who submitted stacks of petitions that contained nothing but unusable or invalid signatures. In all, the Bureau of Elections found five GOP gubernatorial candidates had submitted too many invalid signatures: Craig, Johnson, Michael Markey, State Police Capt. Michael Brown and businesswoman Donna Brandenburg.
Now, Republican efforts to even field a viable candidate to run against Whitmer appear to be in jeopardy.
“The Board of State Canvassers will review the Bureau of Election’s findings on Thursday to determine how to proceed,” Fox News added.
Earlier this month, Michigan State Police seized a number of electronic voting machines as part of an expanded investigation into potential breaches linked to the 2020 election.
State police seized a voting machine tabulator in Irving Township, Barry County Clerk Pamela Palmer told CNN. The state probe is aimed at determining whether anyone who should not have been allowed to access voting machine data was able to breach election protocols.
The investigation began a few months ago amid allegations from the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office that a third party accessed elections data and technology in Roscommon County.
Michigan State Police Lt. Derrick Carroll said the probe was expanding but did not provide specific details.
“If we find more examples of unauthorized access, we talk to those officials to find out what transpired,” Carroll added.
“As we found out more information we’ve expanded our area to see if any other places were compromised,” said Carroll, declining to comment on Irving specifically, according to Reuters. “We have gone to other regions.”
“The Michigan State Police has expanded its investigation into whether third parties gained unauthorized access to voting machine data after the 2020 election, and is now examining potential breaches in at least one new county,” CNN reported.
The network added:
In a raid last Friday, state police seized one voting machine tabulator in Irving Township, Barry County Clerk Pamela Palmer told CNN on Thursday. Palmer told CNN that she was not aware of any issues until police notified her of the voting machine seizure.
Michigan State Police first opened its investigation into potential voting machine breaches in February after the Secretary of State’s Office notified it that an unnamed third party was allowed to access vote tabulator components and technology in Roscommon County.
Michigan State Police Lt. Derrick Carroll told CNN on Wednesday that the department’s investigation has expanded to more counties where they were notified of breaches of election systems, but would not confirm the seizure in Irving Township specifically. It’s unclear if the investigation includes localities beyond Roscommon County and Irving Township but a source familiar with the investigation told CNN that state police are aware of a third potential breach.
These potential breaches did not affect results in the 2020 election, Carroll said, noting the breaches occurred after the election was complete.