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Fed. judge hopes to rule late tomorrow on state's request to reconsider signature requirement order

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U.S. District Judge Terrence Berg held an emergency hearing Thursday morning on the state's request that he modify the order he issued Monday lowering signature requirements for certain candidates to be on the ballot in the August primary. 

Judge Berg ruled in the Esshaki case that the April 21 filing deadline be extended until May 8, that electronic signature gathering be allowed, and that the minumum signatures required be cut in half. 

The order was prompted by the challenges to gathering the required signatures because of the COVID-19 pandemic and Governor Gretchen Whitmer's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order.

The state filed an emergency motion on Wednesday afternoon asking Judge Berg to amend his order so the required signature thresholds are not reduced at all.  The state is not challenging the parts of his ruling that extend the filing deadline to May 8 or that allow electronic signature gathering.

At the end of the more than one hour long hearing, Judge Berg ordered the parties to answer a series of specific questions and submit them along with any further arguments by noon on Friday. He said he hopes to reach a decision on the state's motion by the end of the day tomorrow.

The series of questions to each candidate that is a party to the lawsuit are:

1) How many signatures did you have at the time Whitmer's March 23 Stay-at-Home order went into effect?

2) Were you able to meet the previously existing signature requirements by April 21?

3) Have you tried a mailing campaign to get signatures?

4) What did that cost?

5) What was the rate of return of signatures through the mailing campaign?

Virginia Gordan has been a part-time reporter at Michigan Radio since fall 2013. She has a general beat covering news topics from across the state.
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