The ruling came as the state faced a Friday deadline for completing ballots for the Aug. 2 primary, which state election officials have said is crucial for programming computers and preparing absentee ballots.
In its review last week of the nominating petitions, the Michigan Bureau of Elections issued a stinging criticism of the methods used by the candidates’ campaigns to collect signatures and the operatives working for the candidates.
“The bureau is unaware of another election cycle in which this many circulators submitted such a substantial volume of fraudulent petition sheets consisting of invalid signatures,” the bureau said. It also clarified that it saw no evidence that the candidates had any knowledge of the fraud.
Election officials said they had identified 36 people who had submitted fraudulent petition sheets consisting entirely of invalid signatures. On May 23, 19 candidates learned that they had not met the signature requirement to get onto the ballot, including three Republicans and one Democrat seeking House seats, and 10 nonpartisan candidates seeking judicial posts.
More than half of the 21,305 signatures submitted by Mr. Craig’s campaign were rejected, leaving him with 10,192 valid signatures, the bureau said in its report, which noted that little effort had been made to vary handwriting.
“In some cases, rather than attempting varying signatures, the circulator would intentionally scrawl illegibly,” the bureau said of the petitions for Mr. Craig. “In other instances, they circulated petition sheets among themselves, each filling out a line.”
The elections bureau rejected 9,393 of the 23,193 signatures submitted by Mr. Johnson’s campaign, leaving him with 13,800 valid signatures. Some of the fraudulent signatures represented voters who had died or moved out of the state, the bureau said.