U.S. Judge allows Michigan Rep. Conyers to appear on ballot

Fri May 23, 2014 7:36pm EDT

U.S. Representative John Conyers addresses the audience in Michigan June 23, 2009. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

U.S. Representative John Conyers addresses the audience in Michigan June 23, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Rebecca Cook

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(Reuters) - A federal judge ruled on Friday that longtime Detroit-area Democratic U.S. Representative John Conyers should appear on an August primary ballot, saying Michigan registration rules that had disqualified him may violate his constitutional rights.

Conyers' bid for re-election had suffered a blow on Friday when state officials said errors in his nominating petitions left the 85-year-old politician without enough valid signatures to appear on the primary ballot.

He had been required to submit at least 1,000 valid signatures. But he fell short after hundreds of signatures were thrown out because they were gathered by people who were not registered voters in the state.

In ordering him onto the ballot, U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Leitman granted a preliminary injunction against a Michigan law requiring that petition circulators be registered state voters, saying the measure burdened Conyers' free speech and assembly rights.

"The state's interest in combating election fraud is compelling, but the state may protect that interest through less restrictive means," Leitman wrote.

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson had argued that the law helps combat election fraud because it would have the contact information of a registered voter if questions arose regarding the validity of signatures, court documents show.

Conyers is one of America's most prominent black politicians and is a former chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee. He ranks second in seniority behind fellow Michigan Representative John Dingell, who is retiring this year.

His district is solidly Democratic. President Barack Obama won 85 percent of the vote in the district in his 2012 re-election, according to Democratic Party records.

Officials in the Michigan Secretary of State's office were not immediately available for comment, nor were Conyers' campaign staff.

(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis, Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Grant McCool)

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Comments (13)
4825 wrote:
Should not be on the ballot if he did not follow protocol. Must be something wrong with him if he can not get it straight. Oh, I see what it is from the story, he is a liberal. One other big problem with him is he is a 50 year politician. Time to go.

May 23, 2014 3:45pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
astroz wrote:
“Challenging in federal court the Michigan law requiring the circulators to be registered voters in the state”. He is clearly of the same political party that is fighting to prevent voters here ILLEGALLY (in Florida)from being removed from the voter roles. I guess when democracy isn’t keeping you in power, ditch democracy.

May 23, 2014 3:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
87marine wrote:
Good. About time we got rid of this intellectually challenged nincompoop. He’s a doddering old liberal who needs g to be put out to pasture.

May 23, 2014 4:19pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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