Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

More Ballot Petition Signature Trouble; Reversals of Fortune

In Governor, House, Polling on May 1, 2014 at 11:02 am

In 2012, then-Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI-11) became a victim of political chicanery when certain campaign staffers filed fraudulent ballot petition signatures on his behalf. Disqualifying the invalid signatures denied McCotter a ballot position. He later resigned his seat, and the abuse of the candidate qualification procedure cost him his political career.

Under Michigan law, candidates for the US House of Representatives must obtain 1,000 ballot petition signatures from legally qualified voters in the particular voting district. Candidates are allowed to file no more than 2,000 total signatures.

Now it appears another signature controversy is budding, this time involving veteran Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit). Originally elected in 1964, Conyers is the second longest-serving member in the entire House. According to his Democratic primary opponent, Rev. Horace Sheffield, several unregistered voters may have circulated the congressman’s petitions. Another Michigan requirement demands that all ballot petition circulators must also be registered to vote in the particular district. If an unregistered voter circulates, the entire petition becomes invalid. This is potentially the situation involving the Conyers’ petitions, at least according to the Sheffield campaign.

The Wayne County Clerk is not commenting about the situation, so the number of Conyers’ filed signatures is unknown. If his petitions are disqualified, the congressman would still have options. He would still have time to qualify as a write-in candidate or he could enter the general election as an Independent.

A similar situation occurred last year in the Detroit municipal election. Mayoral candidate Mike Duggan was ruled ineligible to run because he did not meet the residency requirement. Duggan then ran as a write-in candidate and won the Democratic nomination. He then won easily in the regular municipal election. Therefore, running as a write-in candidate may not be as daunting a task for Conyers, should it come to that, as one might believe at first glance.

We’ll watch for developments.

Reversing Directions

Two polls have just been released that go in the opposite direction of previously released data in their respective states. In Ohio, the last Public Policy Polling survey (April 14-15; 1,050 registered Ohio voters) forecast a 44-44 percent tie between the two major party candidates. In this newly released Survey USA study (April 24-28; 618 likely Ohio voters), Gov. John Kasich (R) has re-assumed a much larger lead – 10 points in fact (46-36 percent), over Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald (D).

Turning to Florida, we see a similar, yet opposite pattern. There, Gov. Rick Scott (R) had been gaining on ex-Gov. Charlie Crist (D). The last Survey USA poll (April 10-14; 502 registered Florida voters) projected Scott to be pulling within a 46-41 percent margin, a sign of gaining momentum for the Republican incumbent. Now, Quinnipiac University (April 23-28; 1,413 registered Florida voters) finds that Crist is again pulling away from the governor. According to these results, the former state chief executive has a 48-38 percent advantage.

Once again, we see examples of divergent polling in the same race(s) over a short period of time. The fact that we see similar patterns in such different places as Ohio and Florida, among others, suggests that volatility exists in races across the country. Furthermore, we continue to see the electorate swinging wildly in reaction to current happenings. It is reasonable to expect these patterns to continue all the way to Election Day.

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