John Conyers Jr., a member of the U.S. House of Representatives since Lyndon Johnson was president, can’t be put on a primary election ballot because the Democrat provided less than half the required valid signatures on his nominating petitions, the Michigan secretary of state said.
Hundreds of signatures were acquired by workers who weren’t registered to vote, a violation of Michigan law, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said today. Johnson, a Republican, upheld an earlier decision by county election officials barring Conyers from the Aug. 5 Democratic primary.
Conyers, 85, now turns to a federal judge in Detroit in a bid to overturn the rulings and allow him on the ballot. U.S. District Judge Matthew Leitman said at a hearing May 21 he would issue his decision on the challenge after Johnson made her ruling.
Conyers challenged the Michigan requirement, calling it a violation of his First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly. The congressman, who was first elected in 1964, has vowed to run as a write-in candidate if he loses his fight to be placed on the ballot.
Johnson said she had to “enforce the circulator registration requirement as written.” She also disqualified additional signatures on Conyers’s petitions. Conyers submitted 455 valid signatures when 1,000 were required, Johnson said.
The lawsuit is Moore v. Johnson, 14-cv-11903, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit).