Common Cause Michigan Issues Statement After State Supreme Court Rules Against GOP Gubernatorial Candidates’ Appeal to Remain on Primary Ballot

LANSING, MI — Yesterday afternoon, the Michigan Supreme Court in a 6-1 vote ruled to decline to hear James Craig, Perry Johnson and Michael Markey’s appeals of the Court of Appeals ruling keeping them off the ballot. This ruling follows the MI Elections Bureau finding that the three candidates, as well as several other candidates across various offices, submitted thousands of fraudulent signatures on their petitions.  

Under Michigan law, candidates must submit a minimum of 15,000 lawfully collected signatures. Craig, Johnson and Markey allegedly did not meet that requirement. In a MI Elections Bureau report, staffers said they identified 36 petition circulators who submitted at least thousands of invalid signatures across multiple petitions drives for various offices.  

As a result, the Bureau recommended these petitions be labeled as insufficient, with the candidates being removed from the primary ballot. At the hearing, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers were deadlocked, resulting in the candidates being removed from the Aug. 2 primary ballot. The candidates filed a lawsuit to be placed back on the ballot, leading to the MI Supreme Court’s ruling. 

Statement of Quentin Turner, Common Cause Michigan Executive Director 

Yesterday, the Michigan Supreme Court decided in a 6-1 bipartisan vote to deny James Craig, Perry Johnson and Michael Markey a spot on this year’s primary ballot for governor. This follows allegations that the three, as well as several others, submitted thousands of faked signatures on petitions.  

Common Cause Michigan has and will always be firmly against fraud as a means of getting elected. 

However, we remained steadfast in our belief that this process has brought forth a larger discussion: that we MUST review our current policies in place and examine how to best handle these situations in the future. From the challengers finding out about their alleged actions days before pleading their cases to the Board of Canvassers, to the lack of thorough investigation into every name’s validity, to the concerns of who should be at fault for these indiscretions — this process has been chaotic, with officials making decisions based on little precedent.  

Additionally, thousands of Michiganders will now have their right as citizens to back the candidate of their choosing stripped without proper transparency. There has been a distinct lack of procedure in this process, and we must update our systems so these events will never be repeated.