Five Republican candidates for governor were disqualified from the ballot on Thursday after submitting thousands of fraudulent petition signatures, The Detroit Free Press reports.
Leading candidates James Craig, the former Detroit police chief, and Perry Johnson, a businessman, were disqualified as were Donna Brandenburg, Michael Markey, and Mike Brown.
The Michigan Bureau of Elections determined earlier this month that the candidates failed to submit enough valid signatures to make the ballot. The Michigan Board of Canvassers on Thursday deadlocked 2-2 on whether to disqualify the candidates, leaving in place the Bureau of Elections recommendation to boot them off the ballot.
The candidates are expected to take the case to court.
68,000 fake signatures:
The Bureau of Elections said in a report on Monday that at least 36 Republican petition circulators submitted at least 68,000 fraudulent signatures across 10 nominating petitions.
The Bureau did not check every signatures but invalidated all signatures submitted by the fraudulent petition circulators.
Republicans argued that it was the bureau’s responsibility to check every signature.
The Bureau said there was no evidence that the candidates were aware of the fraud ring.
Court fight next:
Craig called the decision a “travesty” and said his campaign would file an “immediate appeal.”
“We are confident that when the law is justly applied, our campaign will be on the ballot this August,” Craig said.
Johnson attorney claimed that the state process had “fatal flaws that didn’t follow election law.”
Meanwhile, the Michigan Democratic Party called on the candidates to drop out of the race.
“Michiganders deserve accountable leaders, and these candidates have shown they are not capable of that,” said party chairwoman Lavora Barnes.