Michigan elections bureau says 6 of 7 U.S. Senate candidates should make the ballot

U.S. Senate candidates recommended by the Bureau of Elections to appear on the Aug. 6 ballot (clockwise): Former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, Hill Harper, Sandy Pensler, former U.S. Rep. Justin Amash and Sherry O'Donnell | Photos by Andrew Roth, Kyle Davidson and Getty Images

The Michigan U.S. Senate field could shrink once again.

A Michigan Bureau of Elections staff report released late Friday afternoon said that Democrat Nasser Beydoun of Dearborn is ineligible to appear on the Aug. 6 primary ballot, as all of his petitions used the incorrect heading.

The report said that Beydoun improperly used a P.O. Box on all 2,924 petition sheets, which require a street address. Thus, staff invalidated all of his sample signatures and said he wad ineligible for the ballot.

“We’re going to fight it because it’s suppressing the vote on a technicality,” Beydoun told The Detroit News Friday, adding that he was consulting a lawyer.

To get on the ballot, Senate candidates are required to submit 15,000 valid signatures. The sampling method gathered 750 signatures, which were then individually reviewed and checked against the Qualified Voter File (QVF) by staff.

“Based on the percentage of valid signatures in the sample and the total number of signatures submitted by the candidate, staff projected a total number of valid signatures in the candidate’s ‘universe’ of submitted signatures and recommended the Board determine the petition sufficient or insufficient based on the formula approved by the Board,” stated the report.

The Board of State Canvassers, which is set to meet May 31, will determine who will appear on the ballot. If Beydoun is determined to be ineligible, that would leave the only two Democrats running: actor Hill Harper and U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly). The seat is open, as U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) is retiring.

Harper’s petition sample was found to be valid for his inclusion on the ballot, per the report.

As for Slotkin, the staff report also found she had sufficient valid signatures in her sample. In a separate report, it also determined that a challenge by Harper would not have affected enough signatures to push her below the required threshold, so neither the challenge nor Slotkin’s response were processed. 

Four GOP candidates cleared the bar to be on the ballot, per the bureau’s report: former U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers (R-White Lake), former U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (I-Cascade Twp.), businessman Sandy Pensler and physician Sherry O’Donnell.

The report said that nominating petitions submitted by Rogers have enough valid signatures. Michigan Democrats claimed there was “apparent fraud” in his petitions However, the report said that staff determined 602 of the 750 signatures on Rogers’ petitions that were sampled were considered to be valid, exceeding the required threshold of 375. 

On Friday, the Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) made additional allegations of “apparently fraudulent signatures” on Rogers’ petitions.

Included were declarations from 19 Michigan voters that they did not sign or do not recall signing the petitions. A Flint woman, Mary Alexander, said that her brother, DeWayne Washington, whose name appears on the same sheet as hers, was deceased. Included among the exhibits in the letter was a copy of his 2022 obituary.

The staff report, however, did not address those allegations made against Rogers. 

Michigan Democrats in an initial May 17 letter to the Michigan Board of State Canvassers (BSC) also asked for an investigation of alleged “indications of fraud” in petitions submitted by Amash and Pensler,

The bureau staff report also said random sampling indicated Amash and Pensler had enough valid signatures, as did O’Donnell, who was not named in either letter by the Democrats. 

The lawyer who wrote those letters, Christopher Trebilcock with Clark Hill PLC, noted that the BSC “has the authority-and, practically speaking, a duty-to conduct a full investigation of candidates’ nominating petitions, even absent a formal or timely complaint.” 

That argument could still hold sway with the board, according to attorney Steve Liedel, who told the Advance that if evidence of fraud is brought forward, state officials have a duty under the election law to refer that to law enforcement, as well as the BSC.

“For the Board of State Canvassers to ignore it because of a deadline, I mean, the fraud occurred long before the deadline, right? And so either there are fraudulent signatures or there are not. Either there are sufficient signatures or there are not, and that’s the process that the board is undertaking,” he said.

The BSC is split 2-2 between Democrats and Republicans and has frequently deadlocked on partisan lines in recent years.

Liedel is not personally representing any Senate campaign this cycle, although his firm represents Harper.

The post Michigan elections bureau says 6 of 7 U.S. Senate candidates should make the ballot appeared first on Michigan Advance.