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May 29 2012

McCotter May Not Be on November Ballot

Now this is pretty amusing for folks in Michigan. Rep. Thad McCotter, one of the loonier right wing congressmen we have, may not appear on the ballot for reelection in November after apparently failing to turn in enough valid signatures on petitions.

Throwing his congressional race into turmoil, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter said Friday evening that he may not have turned in enough valid signatures to qualify for the Aug. 7 Republican primary in his suburban Detroit district.

In a statement, McCotter said the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office notified him about the apparent problem.

“Fully respecting the accuracy and integrity of the Secretary of State’s Office, we will thoroughly review our petition signatures for their sufficiency or insufficiency,” the Livonia Republican said in his statement. “Out of respect for Memorial Day, an announcement of our findings will be made public on Tuesday.”

According to the Secretary of State’s website, McCotter had turned in 2,000 signatures, the maximum allowable. Congressional candidates must turn in at least 1,000 and no more than 2,000 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

The Secretary of State didn’t say how many signatures McCotter could be short by, but spokeswoman Gisgie Gendreau said Friday night that duplicate signatures were among the problems with McCotter’s petitions. When duplicates are found, both signatures are bounced from the petitions.

There’s that schadenfreude feeling again. McCotter launched a brief and utterly unspectacular run for president late last year. He’s easily the craziest member of the Michigan congressional delegation, but in a very eloquent and amusing kind of way.

By the way, I blame ACORN for this. And God obviously lifted his hand of protection from McCotter.

13 comments

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  1. 1
    eric

    Is this a normal or typical requirement for re-election in other states? I’m somewhat surprised an incumbent has to do anything to be on the ballot, other than just declare to the appropriate election authorities that he or she is running.

  2. 2
    wholething

    I hope the signatures are rejected because they handwriting was in the wrong font size.

    ‘Wrong Font Size’ Keeps Michigan’s ‘Shock Doctrine’ in Place

  3. 3
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    every state has hurdles to qualify and they cannot according to the interpretation of many state constitutions be different for incumbents vs. non-incumbents. However, because of federalism, state’s authority to regulate that is somewhat limited …and the interplay is complex between the federal government’s interest in ensuring fairness in elections for federal offices assigned by state and any given state’s interest in having uniform election laws for all races on its ballots. I can’t honestly state whether the feds would have the power to force states to include incumbent federal office holders onto a ballot.

    What’s more confusing is that this is a primary, and the party itself has a 1st amendment right to decide interest in deciding who represents them. This is sometimes (though I have no idea about Michigan) managed so as to require that signatures intended to qualify one for a primary must be from not only registered voters, but voters registered with that party.

    The long and short of it is, yes. It is absolutely normal for a federal office incumbent to have to do something to be on the ballot. In at least one state I know it is sufficient to pay a fee to be on the ballot with an option for presenting signatures in lieu of the fee. I can’t say anything about whether Michigan allows paying a fee instead of providing signatures, but yes. You have to do something: pay or provide evidence of public interest in your candidacy. That something doesn’t change with incumbency for any state with which I am familiar, but in this particular area my knowledge is quite, quite limited.

    If you’re interested, a google search for candidacy requirements would probably give you more state-by-state data.

  4. 4
    Randomfactor

    When duplicates are found, both signatures are bounced from the petitions.

    Hmmm…that seems odd. Since there’s a maximum allowed, putting 501 known duplicates on nominating petitions would keep the candidate off the ballot.

    I guess you have to trust your staff SOMETIME…or at least treat them decently.

  5. 5
    tacitus

    It’s okay, there’s another looney tea-party candidate running in the Republican primary, and if that doesn’t suit, McCotter can still run as an independent, or write-in Republican candidate.

  6. 6
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @randomfactor:

    It’s not odd. It’s a disincentive to cheating.

    If you create a rule against firing someone for certain reasons (union organizing, race, etc.) but the remedy is merely forced rehiring, then the rehired person can be re-fired again and, after two more years of litigation, rehired and refired within two days, etc.

    The person has the privilege of paying lots of money to lawyers to work 2 days every 2 years. That’s a win?

    Bad behavior that is outlawed without a penalty is not actually, effectively outlawed.

    There are multiple reasons to do it this way. One is that, if someone is willing to sign it multiple times in violation of the law, you might have found only some instances of that person’s signature. While on 2000 sigs you might check them all, on petitions with 100k sigs you use statistical sampling. Deleting both of the found instances still leaves the possibility that a 3rd signature got through, so even deleting both isn’t as serious a check as it might seem.

    Moreover, deleting both – really, deleting all since if 5 were found by the same person all 5 would be deleted – provides a disincentive to cheating: if you want your signature to count, you **don’t** want to cheat, you don’t sign it many times and conclude that you can’t be hurt because at least one will count.

    Finally, the campaign determines which signature sheets they will turn in, and they also disseminate the sheets to begin with. By limiting them to 2000 signatures, you make the campaign take responsibility for minimizing fraud so that the situation of 501 people signing twice (or one person signing 1001 times) doesn’t occur. If there are a lot of duplicates such that more than 1/2 the total sigs come from someone signing more than once, the campaign *will* notice that unless they are doing no anti-fraud checks.

    Preventing the campaign from passing on the anti-fraud checks means that the candidate can’t get in by fraud but then say, “but I didn’t know!” The candidate in this system has an incentive to know. They should know – especially if the candidate is an incumbent of a major party holding federal office. Such folks have all kinds of institutional campaign help.

    This is a law not only discouraging fraud, but discouraging a candidate from outsourcing fraud.

    If you understand that, you understand the law makes quite a bit of sense and deleting both sigs is not at all mysterious.

  7. 7
    gregorylynn

    Wait a minute, it takes two thousand signatures to get on the ballot in a state of almost ten million people?

    Years ago in Massachusetts, a state of six and a half million, we had to collect ten thousand.

    That’s messed up.

  8. 8
    Gvlgeologist, FCD

    Here in FL, we have petition drives all the time, and sometimes I’ll tell a petition collector that I’m not sure if I’ve signed their particular petition already or not. The answer I always get is, “It doesn’t matter.”

    Can the people taking the petitions (in this case the teapartier’s people) go through and delete the duplicates themselves? If so, then they should be doing the initial work before handing in the petitions.

    I guess it depends partly on whether each person signs an individual piece of paper (easy to eliminate dupes) or are on a list with many names on a single page (where the duplicates, even if crossed off, would still be visible).

  9. 9
    TGAP Dad

    I feel like the nutty bar is set kind of low in Michigan. While Minnesota can proudly bring Michele Bachmann, Arizona doubles down with Arpaio and Brewer, Florida gets the hat trick of West, Crist and Rubio, the best we can bring to the crazy table is McCotter? He barely registers on a nut-o-meter calibrated for those gems! I feel like we’re not trying hard enough. Unless you want to count Mittens Romney (adjusted for the public exposure, of course – I don’t think he qualifies otherwise).

  10. 10
    dan4

    @10: “…Arizona doubles down with Arpaio and Brewer,…”

    and Trent Franks.

    Also, related to Michigan, Tim Walberg is nuttier than McCotter.

  11. 11
    TGAP Dad

    Correction to my comment above: the Florida triad is composed of West, Scott and Rubio. Florida, Jersey; tomato, to-mah-toe.

  12. 12
    Tualha

    No, gregorylynn; it takes one thousand. Two thousand is the maximum you can turn in.

    Guess they want to make sure many voices are heard. Which is good as far as it goes. Of course, some of those voices will be whackjobs. That’s democracy.

  13. 13
    daledobson

    I have lived in McCotter’s district since he was elected in 1998, though I’ve never voted for him. To give the man credit where it is due, though, I wrote to him to challenge the “personal beliefs” exemption in Michigan’s recent anti-bullying legislation, and he does listen and respond to his constituents… even when they are idiots who think he’s still in the state Senate even though he became a member of the state Congress in 2002 and was thus in no position to influence the legislation at that stage of the game. :)

    I’d rather NOT see him replaced by a diehard Tea Party candidate, at any rate!

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