Michigan Representative John Conyers has hit a snag in his bid to win a 26th term in Congress. Apparently, contrary to Michigan law, a couple of his canvassers who were responsible for gathering signatures on his ballot petition were not registered to vote at the time they were signing people up. Because of that, the signatures may be ruled invalid and it looks like Conyers might not appear on the August 5th Democratic primary ballot.

Detroit Free Press:

Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett now says she does not believe U.S. Rep. John Conyers has enough valid signatures to qualify for the Aug. 5 primary ballot.

But that doesn’t mean Conyers is officially kicked off.

Garrett confirmed Friday afternoon that she received a letter from Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey Wednesday night saying that Winfrey had determined that the legal voter registration date of two people who collected signatures for the Conyers campaign should be April 28, 2014, instead of Dec. 13, 2013.

By law, Daniel Pennington and Tiara Willis Pittman should have been registered voters when they gathered the ballot signatures.

“With that being said, and with the dates being changed from Ms. Winfrey’s office, it says at this time that the congressman would not have enough signatures,” Garrett said. She added that her final determination should come before May 13, after an investigation has been completed.

Conyers’ attorney John Pirich said when questions began to arise about the two petition circulators, Conyers’ campaign received voter registration forms for Pennington and Willis Pittman dated Dec. 13, 2013. And the office is prepared to provide evidence to Wayne County and the Secretary of State to prove that status.

“It must be made clear that any registration deficiency is not the fault of the individuals; the fault lies with the Detroit City Clerk’s Office and their compliance with the law,” Pirich said in a statement released Friday. The matter isn’t over, Pirich added, saying the Conyers campaign also is trying to review the 800 signatures that were ruled invalid to see whether they can be “rehabilitated” before Garrett makes her final determination.

“When this review process of the signatures and the circulators is completed, I’m confident that Congressman Conyers will have more than a sufficient number of signatures to get on the ballot.” Pirich told the Free Press on Friday. “This is all a process, and we’re just in the second inning.”

Nice try, lawyer Pirich. In fact, this is a little closer to the truth of what actually happened.

Once it became apparent that the eligibility of Conyers’ petition circulators would be challenged, 2 voter registration forms magically appeared dated last December. But — horror of horrors — our two intrepid circulators had misplaced/mislaid the receipts proving that they had registered.

Egads! An error! A mistake! Those incompetents in the city clerk’s office are to blame.

Er…not quite:

Winfrey said Friday that the two petition gatherers came into the City Clerk’s Office late in the day on Monday, told a person at the counter that they had registered to vote by mail in December but lost receipts that would prove it. A worker issued the two receipts showing that they had registered to vote, but Winfrey said the receipts were not legally binding.

“They were gaming the system,” Winfrey said. “Both of them said they registered with the Secretary of State, but they would have a receipt to prove that. Naturally, they said they lost it. We caught it in administration within 24 hours and corrected it.

“Gaming the system.” Isn’t that sort of like, I don’t know, cheating?

Let’s not jump to conclusions, right?

Garrett said she suspects the matter may wind up in court, because there were documents with seals and signatures saying that the two signature gatherers were registered voters as of December 2013. The secretary of state does not have any record of the two individuals trying to register at SOS branch offices in December, said Chris Thomas, director of elections for the SOS.

“And now it’s changed,” Garrett said. “I do understand that mistakes happen. We make them all the time. But that’s not a thoughtless process, either one of those.”

OK — time to jump to conclusions.

1. These are Democrats
2. These are Democrats from Detroit.

I don’t think “The dog ate my voter registration receipt” gambit is going to work. And if we had a functioning Justice Department interested in getting to the bottom of this caper, we might eventually sort it all out and discover who put these canvassers up to the fraud and how many more of Conyers’ workers might also be ineligible.

But that would require an attorney general interested in making the word “Justice” in the Justice Department relevant.

Now if Conyers were a white man…