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Michigan Defends Law Requiring Conyers Petitioners to be Registered Voters

On May 20, Michigan filed this brief in Moore v Johnson, 2:14cv-11903, one of the two pending federal cases over the state law that says circulators of primary candidate petitions must be registered voters. Michigan argues that because Congressman John Conyers only needed 1,000 signatures, the burden on him and any U.S. House primary candidate is not severe, and therefore no harm is done by the circulator registration requirement.

Michigan then says that the Sixth Circuit precedent Nader v Blackwell, which struck down similar Ohio laws, should not apply, because Ralph Nader needed 5,000 signatures to get on the ballot in Ohio in 2004, which is five times as severe as the Conyers’ petition burden. This is a silly argument. In Ohio, 5,000 signatures is less than one-tenth of 1% of the number of votes cast for president in recent years. But in Conyers’ case, 1,000 signatures is more than one-third of 1% of the votes cast in his 13th district in the last election.

Michigan does not mention the Second Circuit opinion Lerman v Board of Elections in the City of New York, 232 F.3d 135 (2000), which struck down a similar New York law, even though the plaintiff only needed 38 valid signatures. The candidate, Anita Lerman, was running for the Independence Party nomination for city council. Thanks to Thomas Jones for the link.

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