Republicans ‘botched the job’ of forging signatures — and it may cost them a major election: analysis
Armed demonstrators protest in Lansing, Michigan, during a rally organized by Michigan United for Liberty on May 14, 2020, to protest the coronavirus pandemic stay-at-home orders. (Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP)

Half of the Republicans running for governor were caught in an election fraud scheme that could cost the GOP their best shots of winning one of the biggest races in the 2022 midterm elections.

"The GOP’s efforts to unseat Michigan’s Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, ran into some trouble on Tuesday when the state’s elections bureau determined that five of the ten Republican candidates had faked the signatures necessary for them to appear on the ballot. Because of the bogus ink, half of the field could now be ineligible for the August 2 primary," Matt Stieb reported for New York magazine on Tuesday.

The state Bureau of Elections released a 17-page staff report documenting the attempted fraud.

"There was quite a bit of fraud, according to the Michigan Bureau of Elections. Some compromised petition sheets 'consisted entirely of invalid signatures.' Others showed evidence of being 'round-tabled,' the process in which a group of people takes turns signing names so the same handwriting isn’t repeated line after line. A few showed 'no evidence of normal wear' and misspellings of voters’ names, suggesting that whoever botched the job didn’t really put their full effort into trying to defraud the Wolverine State," Stieb explained.

Michigan estimated 68,000 phony signatures were submitted.

"The affected Republicans included former Detroit police chief James Craig and businessman Perry Johnson, who are considered front-runners in the crowded primary," Stieb noted. "While the elections bureau did not find evidence that the candidates were aware of the schemes conducted on their behalf, the widespread fraud comes amid a yearslong effort in which Donald Trump has alleged without evidence that Democrats 'rigged' the 2020 election in Michigan and other states that flipped blue last cycle. Craig has said he is in favor of a 'thorough audit' of the 2020 race, while Johnson has said he shares Trump’s concerns 'about election security.'”

Donna Brandenburg, Michael Brown and Michael Markey also reportedly failed to submit enough valid signatures.

The Michigan Board of State Canvassers is scheduled to meet on Thursday to review the staff report and will decide on the eligibility of the five candidates who failed to turn 15,000 valid signatures.

In March, Whitmer bragged about turning in 30,000 signatures.

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