Rapper Kanye West will not be appearing on the ballot in Virginia after a judge ruled there were too many discrepancies regarding the elector oaths he submitted with his paperwork to get on the ballot this November.
While it’s easy to forget as the campaign season unfolds, the existence of the electoral college means voters don’t actually directly vote for a presidential candidate. We vote for a slate of people, known as electors, who will participate in the electoral college process.
In order to get one of these slots, people have to sign an elector oath that says they will support a particular candidate and this is where the issue comes up with the West campaign. There were significant problems with the paperwork of 11 of the 13 electors the campaign submitted ranging from the elector oaths not being notarized properly to some of the people claiming they weren’t even signing the oath.
One of the men the campaign submitted as an elector, for instance, said he was approached by a group of people while he was out for a bike ride and asked if he would be willing to sign something for Kayne’s presidential campaign. According to the Washington Post, Matthan Wilson didn’t even realize he was signing up to be submitted as an elector until he received a call from a reporter asking about it. There have been multiple other reports of questionable tactics used to get people to sign the elector oaths and petitions to get West’s name on the ballot.
This is in sharp contrast to how the electors are usually selected as they’re usually people who have been involved in the electoral process for years and actively seek the position. For the slate of electors put forward by the Democratic Party of Virginia this year, for example, individuals had to announce their candidacy back in June and people from each Congressional District were selected during local conventions held virtually later that month. The same process was then followed at the statewide level to select two additional statewide electors.
With all this in mind, Wilson was one of several Virginians who brought forth a lawsuit asking for West’s name to be removed from Virginia’s ballot. Since the ballots were scheduled to start being printed soon in order to be sent out to voters who requested an absentee ballot starting on September 19th, Wilson’s lawyers and several others quickly asked for immediate action.
The suit even had the support of Attorney General Mark Herring who filed a motion asking for swift action since the process of printing ballots beginning soon meant the case had to be decided in a timely manner. In the motion, Herring wrote that he wanted the court to “hear this matter immediately and rule as soon as possible because localities are under extreme time pressure to print ballots in order to comply with the large number of absentee ballots requests and a deadline (provided by federal law) to provide absentee ballots by September 19, 2020. Because of the unprecedented number of absentee ballot requests to date, many localities are concerned that they have insufficient time to print ballots.”
The West campaign has been facing scrutiny from the beginning as he has a long history of publicly supporting President Trump. Many people were therefore extremely surprised when he decided to run against the president and pundits began speculating that he was perhaps doing it to help Trump by attracting voters who might have otherwise voted for Biden. Those suspicions appeared to be confirmed when he sent text messages to reporters claiming that was indeed the case.
With Donald Trump already trying to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election results since many voters have been requesting absentee ballots due to the pandemic, there are some rumors that added complications like this lawsuit might help fuel the unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud the president has been pushing. Only time will tell if the court acted fast enough and with enough transparency to help ease those concerns. No matter what, the developments of the West campaign are yet another example of how the 2020 election is touching on issues many voters never imagined would be covered.