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Dems allege forgery, fraud on GOP petitions for Michigan U.S. Senate seat

Man looks at someone to his left
A planned U.S. Senate debate has been canceled after leading candidates Mike Rogers and Elissa Slotkin declined to participate, organizers say (Bridge photo by Jonathan Oosting)
  • Michigan Democrats seek investigation into Republican U.S. Senate candidates’ ballot eligibility, claiming signature fraud
  • Republicans denounce claims, arguing signatures were valid and that Democrats’ challenge came too late
  • Republican U.S. Senate candidates Mike Rogers, Sandy Pensler and Justin Amash; former candidate Peter Meijer named in request

Michigan Democrats are asking state elections officials to investigate the nominating petitions of several top Republican U.S. Senate candidates, alleging evidence of the kind of fraud and potential forgery that disqualified several gubernatorial candidates two years ago. 

In a Friday letter to the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, attorneys for the Michigan Democratic Party and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee asked election officials to investigate nominating petitions submitted by Republican U.S. Senate candidates Mike Rogers, Sandy Pensler and Justin Amash, as well as former candidate Peter Meijer. 

The request claims that the candidates’ submissions appear to be “infected” with potentially fraudulent signatures, pointing to instances of petition sheets that appeared to be filled out by only one person, voters’ names appearing across multiple petitions in different handwriting and mismatches in petition circulator handwriting as evidence that the petitions warrant further review. 



    “The Board should not certify any of these candidates for the ballot until it has conclusively determined that they have submitted 15,000 valid signatures from actual Michigan voters, as required by law,” the letter reads.

    Republicans were quick to dismiss the claims, noting the new request was filed well past the April 30 deadline for challenging candidates’ signature validity. 

    “Democrats can’t beat Republicans at the ballot box so it looks like they are trying to eliminate Republicans from the ballot,” said Stu Sandler, a spokesman for Pensler. “He clearly qualifies for the ballot which is why no timely challenge was filed.”

    A spokesperson for the Rogers campaign accused Democrats of an "antidemocratic stunt" and the "same failed unlawful efforts to subvert democracy that they tried to use against President Trump."

    Memo with some thing blacked out
    A petition sheet submitted by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sandy Pensler "appears to have been completed entirely by one person," according to Democrats now seeking an investigation. (Michigan Democratic Party memo)

    Democrats claim state canvassers have the authority “and, practically speaking, a duty” to investigate the nominating petitions even though the challenge deadline has passed. 

    During the 2022 election cycle, several Republican candidates for governor were disqualified from the ballot following allegations that a ring of fraudulent circulators submitted a combined 68,000 forged signatures on nominating petitions for 10 different candidates, including five GOP candidates for governor.

    In court testimony, the candidates claimed they were fooled by a private firm that charged them tens of thousands of dollars to get signatures required by Michigan law to qualify for the ballot.


    Two years later, invalid signatures may again derail important campaigns, including former state Sen. Adam Hollier's primary challenge to Democratic U.S. Rep. Shri Thanedar. Staff in the Wayne County Clerk’s office this week recommended against certifying Hollier's signatures

    Given the 2022 cases, Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lavora Barnes claimed the evidence brought forward Friday “demands an immediate investigation” of the Republican U.S. Senate candidates. 

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