Judge removes Kanye from ballot

Published 8:11 pm Thursday, September 3, 2020

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A Richmond Circuit Court judge on Thursday removed rapper Kanye West from Virginia’s presidential ballot after hearing arguments in a lawsuit brought by two Suffolk men.

Matthan Wilson and Bryan Wright, both registered voters who live in Suffolk, say they were tricked into signing a paper agreeing to serve as electors in support of West’s independent bid for president, the lawsuit stated. The judge’s order on Thursday found that their elector oaths, and nine others, were obtained by fraudulent means or otherwise invalid.

To qualify to appear on Virginia’s ballot as an independent candidate for president, potential candidates must meet certain criteria. Among them is a requirement that they submit oaths from 13 electors who pledge their support for the candidate in the upcoming election, as well as a petition of at least 5,000 signatures of registered voters supporting the candidate’s inclusion on the ballot, which must include at least 200 from each congressional district.

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In the lawsuit, Wilson and Wright stated they were misled about the nature of the document they were signing and did not know their signature was committing them to be electors.

The lawsuit stated neither man intends to vote for West or serve as an elector and they wish to withdraw their elector oaths.

The lawsuit also includes another purported elector who says her signature was obtained under false pretenses and presents issues with eight more purported electors. The eight others were notarized by a single notary, also serving as an elector. Because electors are paid, it gave her a financial interest in ensuring the campaign obtained enough other electors, which should have invalidated her notarization, the lawsuit states. Some of the other electors’ signatures were also obtained under false pretenses as well.

The judge’s decision orders the State Board of Elections and State Department of Elections to strike the invalid elector oaths from West’s petition to qualify for the ballot and keeps them from qualifying West’s candidacy on the basis of the fraudulent oaths. In a small handful of localities, ballots have already been printed; in these localities, the elections department is “to take all necessary measures” to provide notice to voters of West’s disqualification.

West has been disqualified from the ballot in five other states, Illinois, Montana, Ohio, West Virginia and Wisconsin, because of not filing enough valid signatures or not filing on time.