Lawsuit filed could clear up Conyer's ballot controversy - KMSP-TV

Lawsuit filed could clear up Conyer's ballot controversy

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Veteran Congressman John Conyers is fighting for a place on the August primary ballot after the Wayne County Clerk's Office determined he does not have enough valid signatures.

The decision came after two of Conyers' circulators were thought to be unregistered voters when they gathered signatures, which is against requirements. Now, a lawsuit has been filed which could clear up the mess.

Robert Davis is filing a federal lawsuit challenging the requirement that petition circulators have to be registered voters. Several courts, including one in Michigan, have already ruled the stipulation to be unconstitutional.

The fact that requirement is still in play could cost Davis his seat on the Highland Park School Board and it could end Conyers' fifty year tenure in Congress.

"There's a First Amendment right to free speech when you circulate petitions for various candidates, for proposals, recall petitions, and that it would be an over burden to say that you have to be a registered voter and of the district. What the judge said was, 'No, you can just circulate those petitions and exercise your free speech,'" says FOX 2's legal analyst Charlie Langton, summarizing one of the court rulings Davis is using to bolster his case.

"The judge should order all of the petitions to be counted whether they were circulated by a registered voter or not. In other words, it doesn't matter when that person registered to vote because it's irrelevant," Langton says.

Rev. Horace Sheffield, who is vying for Conyers' seat in Congress, would disagree.

"The fact that people can go and register after the fact just shows you how desperate people are," he says.

Ballots will go to print in June, leaving Davis and Conyers about a month to do whatever is necessary to appear on it.

A spokesperson for the Secretary of State would not comment as the litigation is pending. The Wayne Co. Clerk's office is also not commenting. Both were named in the lawsuit.

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