Suit: Mich. election policies discriminate against independents

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News
Chris Graveline

A former federal prosecutor who failed to collect enough signatures to make the ballot in his bid to become Michigan’s next attorney general is suing state elections officials, claiming their policies discriminate against independent candidates.

Chris Graveline had collected 14,157 of the 30,000 signatures by the state’s filing deadline last week. The Berkley hopeful alleges the state’s requirement for no-party contenders to submit 30,000 valid signatures 50 days before the last day the parties must hold nominating conventions and 110 days ahead of the general election “is one of the highest in the country and functions as an absolute bar that excludes independent candidates from competing for statewide office.”

Federal prosecutor quits to run for Michigan AG

Since Michigan enacted the current electoral policy in 1988, “not a single independent candidate has qualified for the ballot for a statewide office (governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, or secretary of state),” his lawyers wrote in the lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court.

By imposing measures that appear to exclude certain candidates, the state policies violate voters’ constitutional right to “cast their votes effectively” for their preferred one, the filing asserts.

The suit, which was filed on behalf of Graveline and three supporters, names Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. Representatives with her office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday night.

After Graveline failed to collect enough signatures, former U.S. Attorney Barb McQuade endorsed Democrat Dana Nessel for Michigan attorney general.

Read more about Christopher Graveline in the Detroit News series Death by Instagram.