LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A federal judge on Monday delayed a deadline by which Michigan candidates must file petitions to qualify for the ballot, citing the state’s stay-at-home order that is in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The deadline, which is Tuesday under state law, was pushed back 17 days to May 8 by U.S. District Judge Terrence Berg. He said candidates can collect half as many signatures as normal, and he ordered that they be able to gather them by email instead of getting a physical signature.
The ruling was a victory for Eric Esshaki, who is seeking the Republican nomination in the state’s 11th Congressional District in suburban Detroit. He and two local judicial candidates had sued Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and other state officials.
The state said Whitmer’s emergency declaration on March 10 “should have acted as a wake-up call” to Esshaki to “double down on signature collection efforts” before her March 23 stay-home order.
“This argument both defies good sense and flies in the face of all other guidance that the State was offering to citizens at the time,” Berg said.
The state also said candidates could use a mail-in campaign to gather the rest of their signatures.