Deval Patrick doesn't make Michigan's primary ballot

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Delta Township — Former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick won't appear on Michigan's presidential primary ballot under a decision from the Board of State Canvassers on Friday morning.

The board unanimously agreed with a report from the Michigan Department of State that found Patrick, a Democratic candidate, failed to submit enough valid petition signatures to qualify for the state's March 10 primary ballot.

Sally Williams, Michigan elections director, said Patrick's signatures fell "well short" of the required number even before state officials checked whether those who signed the petitions were registered voters.

Democratic presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.

"There was no need for us to move onto the voter registration checks," Williams said.

Patrick launched his campaign for president on Nov. 14 after Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson had already submitted lists of candidates for Michigan's ballot.

Because of that, Patrick had to submit 11,345 valid petition signatures by Dec. 13 to make the Democratic ballot. Patrick's campaign submitted 13,777 signatures, but after state officials examined the signatures, they reported finding only 8,660 that were potentially valid.

Other signatures had incomplete addresses or featured date errors, according to the report from the Michigan Department of State. The report also flagged 474 signatures for being of "dubious authenticity."

"... (T)he signature appeared to be written in handwriting that was substantially the same as handwriting for multiple petition entries appearing on the same petition sheet," a footnote in the state's report said.

After the Board of State Canvassers meeting, Williams said an entire page of signatures from individuals did not list cities for their addresses.

"That automatically kicks out every one of those signatures," Williams explained. 

Norman Shinkle, a member of the Board of State Canvassers, questioned whether the total of 8,660 potentially valid signatures was a "generous" estimate. Williams responded, "I would agree with that."

Williams noted that Patrick joined the race late and didn't have much time to organize his campaign. But no one spoke on behalf of Patrick's campaign during Friday's meeting.

Aleigha Cavalier, communications director for Patrick's campaign, told The Detroit News on Thursday that Michigan residents "deserve to be able to choose from their full range of choices for president."

"We’re weighing our options to ensure that Deval Patrick is on the ballot in Michigan," she added.

Without Patrick, Williams said four Republicans and 15 Democrats will appear on Michigan's presidential primary ballot.

Originally, Benson identified four Republicans and 18 Democratic candidates for the ballot, but Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, California Sen. Kamala Harris and businessman Wayne Messam withdrew their names.