Elections | Nation

Longtime Congressman John Conyers Off Primary Ballot

NPR | May 14, 2014 7 a.m.

Contributed By:

Scott Neuman

Michigan Congressman John Conyers on Capitol Hill in Washington last year. A local election official in Detroit says Conyers doesn't have enough signatures to appear on the August primary ballot.

Michigan Congressman John Conyers on Capitol Hill in Washington last year. A local election official in Detroit says Conyers doesn't have enough signatures to appear on the August primary ballot.

J. Scott Applewhite, AP

Rep. John Conyers of Detroit, who’s served in the U.S. House for nearly five decades, has failed to collect enough valid signatures to appear on the August 5 Democratic primary ballot, a local election official says.

Member station WDET’s Quinn Klinefelter reports:

“Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett found that some campaign workers who gathered petition signatures to place Conyers on the primary ballot were not registered voters.”

“That violates state election law and could force Conyers to run an always-tough write-in campaign.”

“It is a very unfortunate circumstance that an issue with a circulator of a petition would disqualify the signature of valid registered voter,” Garrett said in a statement cited by The Detroit Free Press. “Although I am not the final arbiter, I eagerly await the courts’ review of the constitutionality of the laws and statutes pertaining to petition circulators.”

Garrett says her office found only 592 of the necessary 1,000 signatures are valid, according to Michigan Radio.

John Pirich, an attorney for the Conyers’ campaign, said of the circulators “were constructively registered. They filled out voter applications and turned them in through a third party at a voter registration fair.”

The Associated Press writes:

“Conyers has three days to appeal Garrett’s ruling to the Michigan Secretary of State.

“Federal court actions, meanwhile, are taking aim at the requirement that petition collectors be registered voters. The ACLU has filed suit to change state law. If neither happens, Conyers can run as a write-in. If he wins the primary as a write-in, he would qualify for the general election ballot.”

Conyers, who turns 85 on Friday, has served since 1965. [Copyright 2014 NPR]

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