LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The Michigan Board of Canvassers has voted 2-2 on whether to reject the GOP candidates petition signatures, keeping the candidates off the ballot for the time being.

The bipartisan board voted along party lines around 1:50 p.m. on Thursday.

This comes after the Michigan Bureau of Elections found that five candidates, including a few front-runners, failed to file enough valid signatures, and should not qualify for the August primary.

The elections bureau staff found that two of the leading candidates, former Detroit Police Chief James Craig and Businessman Perry Johnson, didn’t have enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

They also recommended that three other Republican candidates, Mike Brown, Donna Brandenburg, and Michael Markey, be excluded from the ballot for similar reasons. Brown has since dropped out of the race, saying he wants nothing to do with fraudulent petition collectors.

6 News Capitol Correspondent Tim Skubick says one thing we know for sure is that the legal arguing at the hearing is probably going to end up being repeated in the courts.

The candidates who feel they were aggrieved by the forged signatures, and therefore the recommendation to take them off the ballet, said the board basically doesn’t have the authority to do it because they violated the law.

But then Mark Brewer, an attorney said, no, the board had the authority and the Bureau of Elections had the authority to do what it did, which was to automatically take some of the names off of petitions if they found only one that was a forgery.

Candidates needed 15,000 valid signatures to make the ballot. The report found:

  • 11,144 of Donna Brandenberg’s signatures were not valid, leaving her with 6,634
  • 13,775 of Michael Brown’s signatures were not valid, leaving him with 7,091
  • 9,879 of James Craig’s signatures were not valid, leaving him with 10,192
  • 17,374 of Michael Markey’s signatures were not valid, leaving him with 4,430
  • 6,983 of Perry Johnson’s signatures were not valid, leaving him with 13,800

The report says it has no evidence the candidates or campaigns organized or knew about those questionable signatures.

6 News Capitol Correspondent Tim Skubick is at the Capitol and will bring live updates throughout the day.

Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) Chair Lavora Barnes has responded to the deadlock.

James Craig, Perry Johnson, and Tudor Dixon, and other Republican candidates for governor made a farce out of Michigan’s electoral system, and today all four members of the Board of Canvassers confirmed that they submitted petitions with extensive fraud and forged signatures. Fraud is fraud, and under Michigan law, candidates are required to submit a minimum of 15,000 lawfully collected signatures. They did not meet that requirement. We are disappointed that two members of the Board of Canvassers made admissions that the nominating petitions contained fraudulent and forged signatures, and didn’t vote to keep them off the ballot. To keep the integrity of Michigan’s democratic process intact, all Republican gubernatorial candidates whose petitions were under consideration at today’s meeting should swiftly withdraw from the race. Michiganders deserve accountable leaders, and these candidates have shown they are not capable of that.”

MDP Chair Lavora Johnson