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 Politics Archive 2014

John Conyers' name won't be on the
August 2014 ballot
by Nathan'ette Burdine: May 15, 2014

Congressman John Conyers’ (D-MI) name will not be on the August 5, 2014, ballot. According to CBS Local Detroit, Cathy Garrett, clerk of Wayne County, stated that Conyers did not get the required number of signatures to have his name placed on the ballot.

Last Friday, Garrett reported that the Detroit City clerk, Janice Winfrey, received a petition challenging the legitimacy of the signatures on Conyers’ re-election petition.

Garrett was quoted by CBS Local Detroit as saying, “It is a very unfortunate circumstance that an issue with a circulation or of a petition would disqualify the signature of valid registered voter. However, I am bound by the current laws and statutes of the state of Michigan that set forth very specific and narrow instructions regarding candidate petitions and the authority of the county clerk.”

The challenge to Conyers’ petitions was brought on by Rev. Horace Sheffield, who is challenging Conyers in the August 5, 2014, Democratic primary.

The Detroit News reported that the invalid signatures were collected by two campaign workers, Tiara Willis-Pittman and Daniel Pennington.

The Michigan Department of Corrections told the Detroit News that Pennington is a wanted felon, and there is a two-year-old warrant out for his arrest.

According to CBS Local Detroit, Steve Hood, who was hired to collect petitions for Conyers’ campaign, said that he “made a mistake” and he takes “full responsibility” for the fallout over the petitions.

Hood went on to say that the entire situation is “wrong” because of the state’s loophole, which Hood believes disenfranchises registered voters.

John Pirich, who is an attorney working for Conyers’ campaign, told the Detroit Free Press that the voters were registered.

There are at least two federal lawsuits, brought on by Robert Davis and the ACLU, challenging the state’s law that requires candidates, who want their names to appear on the ballots, to collect signatures from registered voter.

Conyers, who is 84-years-old, is one of the longest serving members in Congress. He represents the 13th district and has held his congressional seat since 1965.

During his time in Congress, Conyers has served as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. After the Republicans became the majority in the House, Conyers became the ranking member on the committee.

Last year, Conyers reached across the aisle and co-sponsored the Amash-Conyers Amendment with fellow Michigander, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI).

The Amendment, which failed in the House with a vote of 205-217, would have limited the broad powers that the National Security Agency (NSA) has to collect and store data.

Conyers is the second congressman, in less than two years, from Michigan to have his name taken off the ballot.

Former Congressman Thaddeus McCotter’s (R-MI) name was removed from the 2012 ballot after his staffers altered the signatures on his re-election petition.

Conyers is expected to launch a write-in campaign if the secretary of state upholds Garrett’s decision.

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