Rapper Kanye West will not be allowed on Wisconsin ballots as a presidential candidate in November, the Wisconsin Elections Commission ruled Thursday afternoon in a meeting full of bizarre theatrics and testimony under oath.
The effort to get West and vice presidential candidate Michelle Tidball on the ballot, an operation boosted by Republican operatives likely trying to siphon votes away from Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, came up with over 2,400 signatures, more than the minimum 2,000 required. But some names on the petitions were fraudulent, such as Mickey Mouse and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, and the nomination ultimately fell short because West’s papers were filed late on Aug. 4.
West’s attorneys argued the statutory deadline of 5 p.m. to turn in papers actually meant the campaign could file up to 5:01 p.m. Wisconsin Elections Commission staff recommended commissioners reject that argument and block West from ballot access, and commissioners voted 5-1 in favor of doing so.
“It seems to me that just common sense and common understanding would be that 5 o’clock is 5 o’clock,” said Elections Commissioner Dean Knudson, a Republican.
West’s attorneys claimed “aggressive media as well as a Democratic operative” interfered with West attorney Lane Ruhland’s attempt to turn in his nomination papers, but video from the scene directly contradicts that. The video shows her entering the building shortly after 5 p.m.
Further, Elections Commission staff wrote the papers weren’t physically turned in to the commission until after 5:01 p.m.
It’s “common sense” that “if you’re late, you’re late,” said Mark Thomsen, a Democratic commissioner.
“It’s undisputed that no one made it in the building until after 5,” Thomsen said.
Commissioners even questioned under oath two commission staffers, Cody Davies and Riley Willman, who were working at the time of West’s papers being filed. Both testified the filing was late.
“Time is an objective fact,” said Jeff Mandell, an attorney challenging West’s nomination.
Republican Commissioner Robert Spindell made the baseless claim that Democrats were engaged in voter suppression by trying to keep West off the ballot.
“When do you think the Democratic Party is going to stop suppressing the Black vote?” Spindell said.
Republicans in Wisconsin hoped West being on the ballot would draw about 107,000 votes away from Biden in November, ostensibly in an attempt to dilute the Black vote and hand President Donald Trump a victory in this critical swing state. Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016.
“Trump supporters think that Black folks are stupid enough and lack the political analysis to vote for any Black person on the ballot despite our need for real policy,” wrote Angela Lang, executive director of Black voter mobilization group Black Leaders Organizing for Communities, in an UpNorthNews commentary after the filing.
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