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Report: Conyers "far short" of signatures needed to put him on the ballot

Longtime Congressman John Conyers is about 400 signatures short of what he needs to be on the August primary ballot.

The Detroit Democrat is seeking a 26th term in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he’s the second longest-serving member.

But Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett has now released a report that finds Conyers only got 592 valid petition signatures – far short of the 1,000 needed to get on the ballot.

Garrett ruled that hundreds of signatures were invalid because the petition circulators who gathered them weren’t registered to vote at the time.

Under Michigan law, petition circulators must be registered voters.

Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey’s office had initially determined the two had registered tovote in December. But it later said a clerk had marked that the date in error; the two didn’t register until April 28.

Garrett says she’ll formally decide whether Conyers will be on the ballot next week.

If he’s deemed ineligible, Conyers could challenge the decision in court. He could also launch a write-in campaign.

Reacting to the report, Conyers' lawyer,John Pirich, said the campaign remains optimistic that “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,” Pirich said in a statement.

If Conyers doesn’t make the ballot, Conyers’ opponent, Rev. Horace Sheffield III, will be the only name on it. Sheffield’s challenge started the process that ended in Garrett’s report.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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