Abdul El-Sayed clears eligibility hurdle in bid for Michigan governor

Former Detroit Health Director Abdul El-Sayed has said he is “100 percent eligible” for office, despite being registered to vote in New York as recently as 2015.

August 2018 update: Gretchen Whitmer wins Democratic primary for Michigan governor

The legal cloud that for months has surrounded Dr. Abdul El-Sayed’s candidacy for Michigan governor has apparently lifted.

Last week, the Michigan Court of Claims dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Democrat seeking a ruling on his constitutional eligibility to run for governor because of his out-of-state voting history.

El-Sayed filed the request with the court at the behest of the Michigan Democratic Party, whose chairman, Brandon Dillon, issued a statement after the ruling saying “we consider this matter settled and Abdul to be eligible.”

Earlier this month, the state Bureau of Elections dismissed challenges from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Shri Thanedar and others who argued that El-Sayed’s stint living and working in New York made him ineligible to run for governor this year.

Bridge Magazine first reported in early February that prominent Democrats worried about El-Sayed’s candidacy because voting records showed he was registered to vote in New York as recently as 2015.


The Michigan Constitution requires gubernatorial candidates to be “qualified electors” of Michigan for four years preceding the election.

Even though El-Sayed registered and voted in New York while he was in medical school, he was never removed from the voting rolls in Michigan. In a ruling, Michigan Elections Director Sally Williams noted that El-Sayed was continuously registered in the state since 2003.

“Dr. El-Sayed’s voter registration record could not have been canceled unless the state received specific written confirmation that he had changed his residence for voting purposes or until two consecutive federal general elections passed without him voting in Michigan,” Williams wrote. “Neither of those necessary events occurred.”

In a fundraising appeal Friday, El-Sayed campaign manager Max Glass told supporters “this is what vindication looks like” and took a dig at Thanedar, a millionaire Ann Arbor entrepreneur. The other Democrat in the primary, Gretchen Whitmer, opposed efforts to challenge El-Sayed’s eligibility.

“The claims were always baseless. And they never had any legal standing,” Glass wrote.

“But the powers that be and a millionaire fraud felt threatened by the momentum our movement has built, and by the ways we’re challenging the status quo.”

This week, the Intercept, a progressive website, quoted Thanedar as saying that El-Sayed should have told donors “that his eligibility could be questionable.”

Candidates still could file a lawsuit about the eligibility issue. On Tuesday, Bridge asked Thanedar if he planned one. He said he was in a meeting and referred comment to a spokesman who did not return messages.

Also, some Democrats still worry that, should El-Sayed win the August primary, Republicans would file suit and throw the election into chaos.

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Wed, 05/23/2018 - 9:20am

So which democrat was pulling the strings to get this passed? It is pretty clear to me that if he VOTED in NY at any time, then that would start the clock on the 4 year requirement. Not clear in the story as to whether he voted in NY or not. I guess it is true that laws do not apply to liberals.

Joel Kurth
Wed, 05/23/2018 - 5:10pm

Hi -- El-Sayed voted in NY and was remained on the rolls there until at least 2015 when his registration became inactive. It was canceled in NY when he got a license and registered to vote in MI in 2016. While there is nothing illegal with being registered to vote in two places at once, you are only supposed to be a qualified voter in one of them, and the thinking is that NY erroneously failed to notify MI that El-Sayed got a license and registered to vote. If they had done so, I suspect the outcome may be different (or at least more complicated.)

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 10:58am

Ahhhh, if only the clerks were so lapse when it came to registering a homestead exemption. To get a new one, I had to bring a letter from a former residence that my old homestead exemption had been rescinded. And when was the last time he voted in New York? If it was prior to 4 years ago, the whole argument may be moot.

Kevin Grand
Fri, 05/25/2018 - 10:40am

If all of the supporting information with this case is correct, as unusual as this is going to sound (which I'll go into more below), I don't believe that the democrats had anything to do with this dismissal.

Judge Murray's bio includes membership in the Federalist Society, Catholic Lawyers Society and a graduate of Hillsdale College. All items that a democrat would never publicly acknowledge.

And much like a demon attempting to enter a church, I also don't believe that it is possible for ANY progressive to step onto the hallowed grounds of Hillsdale without spontaneously combusting first.

I do have a working theory which a friend passed along to me last night (yes, while we were watching 'Supernatural"), that this was done on purpose by the republicans in order to instigate a major rift in the democrats, not that dissimilar to what they did with Sanders in '16.

El-Sayed's eligibility was toast. Of that there cannot be any doubt.

But if they removed him from the playing field, the democrats might coalesce around Whitmer in the Primary and General.

Keeping him in the race helps (mainly) the republicans by giving the Bernie-crowd something to rally behind other than their own hand-picked candidate Whitmer.

Again, this is just a theory. So you can take it for what you will.