Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the 49-year, 25-term congressman representing bankrupt Detroit, made big news. According to the Wayne County clerk, Conyers failed to gather enough voter signatures to earn a spot on the Democratic Party Primary ballot this Fifth of August.John Conyers

Still, I stand by my Townhall column’s prediction: the congressman will be on that ballot. Conyers ran afoul of a law requiring petition passers to be registered voters. It is unconstitutional. The ACLU filed suit on Monday to overturn it.

Conyers only had to manage a mere one thousand signatures, which hardly seems too tough for a seasoned incumbent. Conversely, Michiganders petitioning for a statewide ballot measure must secure 258,087 voter signatures — 322,609 for a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment.

Conyers isn’t alone in flunking Petition Drive 101. Two years ago, Republican Congressman Thaddeus McCotter resigned after several staff members falsified signatures on his petition.

Michigan’s policy, making major-party politicians gather a small number of voter signatures to obtain ballot status — independent and minor party candidates must often collect much larger numbers — is not a mere useless hurdle. If adopted universally, it could provide a large number of examples that our powerful politicians actually have surprisingly weak support.

Moreover, making politicians petition might stir their sympathy for the struggles citizens face in gathering signatures. Working my day job with Citizens in Charge, I witness constant attacks on the initiative petition process from legislators, who claim it’s “too easy” to put issues on the ballot.

Which, of course, means that those politicians haven’t ever tried.

Politicians often tell us how important “experience” is.

Give them some.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. P. Long says:

    I like the idea of the pols tasting some of the tea they serve to the general public. Good on ye Michigan.

  2. Sally Butterfield says:

    How many of those “unregistered” petition passers are also “unregistered but actual” voters?

  3. Karen says:

    All I can say is 49 years – 25 terms?! Too long… not what the framers of the Constitution had in mind; entrenched, out of touch, lifers. & what has he done while Detroit has “burned?” Mr. Conyers, RETIRE. Vote these lifers out; or better yet, don’t even allow him on the ballot since he failed to garner the signatures to do some.

  4. Karen says:

    Should have read, “since he failed to garner the signatures to do SO.”

    Pardon, the incorrect, autocorrect.

  5. Rose Bogaert says:

    I agree that he will be on the ballot. This issue has been in court several times and it has been found to be an issue of free speech. While the signers must be registered voters of his district the circulators do not.

    File No. 1:08-CV-687
    TERRI LYNN LAND, individually and in
    her official capacity as Michigan Secretary
    of State,

  6. Paul Jacob says:

    Thanks for posting the case, Rose, and for making that history happen!

  7. MoreFreedom says:

    Ironically enough, Barrack Obama first got elected to the Illinois senate, by challenging the Democratic incumbent’s petition signatures, and getting her disqualified from the ballot.

    Strangely, the Obama and Palmer wikipedia entries have been cleansed of any reference to this, and even claim that Palmer endorsed Obama.

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