A day after being removed from the August primary ballot for Congress, Paul Clements says he will take the issue to court.
The Board of State Canvassers ruled on Friday that Clements fell nine short of the 1,000 signatures needed to appear on the ballot for the Democratic primary in the 6th Congressional District. Many of the signatures were invalidated because people living in a city or township with the same name misstated which one they lived in.
Clements indicated on Friday that he did not intend to challenge the board’s ruling in court, in part because he was told ballots had to be ready by Tuesday. But in a statement issued Saturday, Clements says the ballots don’t have to be ready until June 23rd, 45 days before the August primary. The Western Michigan University Professor says the question is an important voter’s rights issue.
Four other Democrats are on the ballot in the 6th Congressional District – George Franklin, Rich Eichholz, Matt Longjohn and David Benac. The winner of the August primary will face long-time Republican Congressman Fred Upton in November.
Clements Full Statement
On Friday, the Board of State Canvassers met and discussed the challenge to my ballot petition. With 991 signatures approved against a target of 1000, a deficit of nine, the Secretary of State’s Office stated that if those signatures where voters had checked the wrong box for either township or city were allowed, then I would be on the ballot.
When the Board of State Canvassers decided to disqualify me, I was shocked. They said that names need to be ready for the ballot in just four days, by Tuesday. I had not given any thought to challenging their decision, and indeed I said I would not.
Sturgis, Kalamazoo, Saugatuck … in our district and across Michigan there are many places where a city and township share a name, side by side. It’s not uncommon to be unsure if your voting registration is in the city or township. But when you sign a ballot petition, if you check the wrong box, today your signature doesn’t count. Also, it turns out that ballots don’t need to be printed until June 23, 45 days before the August 7th primary.
On reflection, and after discussion with my supporters, my team, and my wife, I realize that this is an issue of voters’ rights, and I would be wrong to let it lie. Signing a petition shouldn’t be a geography test. I have decided to defend the rights of voters for their signatures to count.
I’ve changed my mind. I will be challenging the Board of State Canvassers’ decision, and my campaign to represent Michigan’s 6th district in Congress continues.