Congressman John Conyers may not have enough signatures to be on the next ballot

(WXYZ) - John Conyers has been in Congress since Lyndon Johnson was President of the United States, but today came word that after 50 years on Capitol Hill, his name might not even be on the next ballot.

This all stems from the signatures that Conyers' team collected that are 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.

Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey investigated. Initially, her office was given paperwork to suggest those two campaign circulators were registered back in December, but today she confirms that that wasn't true: they were only registered a few days back. 

Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett spoke with reporters on Friday afternoon saying that--at this point--if the two circulators are deemed invalid, Conyers would not have enough signatures to be on the primary ballot. 

"Mistakes do happen--all of us make mistakes, but this process of giving a document that states in  the affirmative then to put it into a system that states the affirmative is not a thoughtless process, so I'm not saying it's deceitful or anything else, but it's a first for me," said Garrett. 

As it stands, Conyers is still on the ballot. The decision as to whether or not he will be removed from the ballot will be made on May 7 after a formal investigation is complete. 

The law firm that represents Conyers released the following statement on Friday: 

“On April 18, 2014 Congressman John Conyers, Jr. turned in 2000 signed petitions for the Democratic Primary in the 13th Congressional District of Michigan.”

“When the campaign began to receive questions regarding one or two of the petition circulators, we made attempts to clarify with the Detroit City Clerk's office and the Wayne County Clerk's office. We received registration forms for the two individuals in question that were dated December 13, 2013. We believe that there are one or more other individual circulators who are being challenged. In regards to those challenges, we are prepared to put forward evidence and testimony before the Wayne County Clerk's office and the Michigan Secretary of State to verify their registration status. It must be made clear that any registration deficiency is not the fault of the individuals; the fault lies with the Detroit City Clerk's office and their compliance with the law.”

“Further, on April 30th, we received a letter from Delphine Odem, the Wayne County Elections Director, stating that Congressman Conyers has a sufficient number of signatures to be placed on the primary election ballot in August.”

“Although we have heard various issues with Mr. Pennington and other circulators in question, as well as the Detroit City Clerk's office reviving challenges, the fact of the matter is that there is a primary review process that has many steps that must be taken before the process is completed. In that regard, we are reviewing some 800 signatures that were turned in with registered voters that can be rehabilitated.”

“I am confident that at the end of these proceedings Congressman Conyers will be certified and on the primary election ballot in August.”


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