The court’s unanimous decisions on Wednesday marked a major setback for the affected candidates, including former Detroit police chief James Craig, who have filed legal challenges in an effort to revive their campaigns.
The signature issue has scrambled the race for governor in Michigan, just two months before the primary. A crowded field of Republicans is jockeying to face Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in what will be one of the nation’s most closely watched campaigns this fall.
Challenges still could be mounted with the state Supreme Court, but time is running out as election officials gear up to print and begin to distribute absentee ballots for the August 2 primary.
In Johnson’s case, the elections bureau determined that his campaign had submitted 9,393 invalid signatures and some 13,800 “facially valid” signatures, leaving him short of the 15,000-signature threshold.
Johnson had argued that the state needed to check the suspected fraudulent signatures against the signatures in the state’s official voter file.
The court disagreed. The state canvassing board, the judges wrote, “had a clear legal duty to investigate, but it did not have a clear legal duty to conduct a comparison of each fraudulent signature against the qualified voter file,” the judges concluded.