Detroit News op-ed: "Fix Michigan election law"

I wrote an op-ed that appears in today's Detroit News. It begins:

Over 1,200 Detroit-area registered voters signed petitions to get Congressman John Conyers, D-Detroit, on the August 5 primary ballot.

Under normal circumstances, that would assure him a spot—Michigan law only requires 1,000 signatures.

But the Wayne County Clerk concluded that Mr. Conyers fell 400 signatures short because of a law that requires petition circulators to be registered voters. Two women who circulated petitions on Mr. Conyers’s behalf were not registered to vote.

Michigan has had this law on the books for a half century, but it’s hard to figure out why. Supporters have suggested a variety of reasons this law makes sense: it prevents fraud, it ensures that only people who care enough to register to vote circulate petitions—and regardless, the burden is not great.

These reasons are inadequate.