Congressman John Conyers does not have enough signatures to be on August Primary ballot

(WXYZ) - 7 Action News has learned that Congressman John Conyers does not have enough signatures to be on the next ballot.

A staff report from the Wayne County Clerk's Office, concluded that Conyers does not have enough signatures after a challenge determined some of the signatures were invalid. Out of 2,000 collected signatures, 764 were tossed out and 644 are being challenged. That leaves just 592 signatures. 1,000 signatures are needed, which makes Conyers' petition invalid.

Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett will make a final determination on Wednesday, May 14.

One of the people who circulated petitions for Conyers is 23-year-old Daniel Pennington.  His petitions were not allowed because his voter registration happened after he submitted his petitions, according to Detroit City Clerk records.  Pennington is also an ex-con on the run.  He talked with 7 Action News Investigator Jim Kiertzner to try to clear his name.

The controversy began after the validity of signatures came into question. These signatures were gathered by Conyers' team and were necessary for a candidate to appear on the ballot. Conyers needed 1,000, and he turned in well more than that.

But law requires that the people who collect those signatures must be registered to vote themselves at the time they turn the signatures in. Otherwise, they will not count.

Conyers' challenger Rev. Horace Sheffield complained to the clerk, alleging two petitioners on Conyers' team weren't registered to vote at the time they collected those signatures, and the congressman should be thrown off the ballot.

Conyers can file a legal challenge through the Secretary of State.

Late Friday, Conyers' attorney released the following statement: 

We appreciate the effort on the part of the staff of the Wayne County Clerk’s office to review the petition signatures submitted on behalf of Congressman Conyers. There are several overlapping and conflicting issues in terms of the count that will need to be sorted out as the process moves forward.

We remain optimistic that at the end of the day, there will be more than a sufficient number of signatures accepted, and that Congressman Conyers will appear on the ballot in August. There are a number of strong arguments establishing this position - supported by fact, law and precedent - that we will put forth before the appropriate authorities. Representative Conyers strongly believes that not only should every vote be counted, but that every registered voter should be able to participate in the electoral system. There is little question that the voters of the 13th District have demonstrated a strong desire for Congressman Conyers to be a candidate for reelection, and he looks forward to participating in both the primary and general elections.

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