Kanye West Off Ballot in Five States, Easing Risk to Biden

Voters in three more states won’t see Kanye West on their ballots for president this year.

Election officials in Ohio, Illinois and West Virginia ruled Friday that the rapper, who announced in July he was running for president as an independent, didn’t qualify to appear on their state ballots. The rulings came a day after officials in Wisconsin and Montana decided that West wasn’t eligible.

Several news outlets have reported that the late bid by West, 43, to get on the ballot in several states was being helped by Republican lawyers or operatives with the hope that he could siphon votes from Democratic nominee Joe Biden to help President Donald Trump’s re-election bid.

In her speech to the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, former First Lady Michelle Obama alluded to West’s fledgling spoiler campaign. “This is not the time to withhold our votes in protest, or play games with candidates who have no chance of winning,” she said.

West was disqualified in Ohio because information and a signature on a nominating petition and statement of candidacy for the rapper and running mate Michelle Tidball didn’t match the paperwork used to gather needed voter signatures, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose said in a release.

Basic Authentication

“A signature is the most basic form of authentication and an important, time-honored, security measure to ensure that a candidate aspires to be on the ballot and that a voter is being asked to sign a legitimate petition,” LaRose, a Republican, said in a statement. “There is no doubt that the West nominating petition and declaration of candidacy failed to meet the necessary threshold for certification.”

In Illinois, West’s home state, the State Board of Elections voted 8-0 on Friday that he’s ineligible for the ballot there because he lacked the 2,500 valid signatures needed, spokesman Matt Dietrich said. About 1,300 signatures were determined not to be genuine or the signer wasn’t registered at the address shown, Dietrich said.

Election officials in West Virginia determined that West’s campaign had only 6,383 of the 7,144 valid signatures needed to qualify, said Jennifer Gardner, a spokeswoman for the Secretary of State’s office.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission voted 5-1 on Thursday to deny ballot access to West because his campaign turned in nomination papers there after the filing deadline on Aug. 4, spokesman Reid Magney said. In Montana, officials determined that West’s campaign had only 3,972 valid signatures, short of the 5,000 needed to qualify, according to Susan Ames of the Montana secretary of state’s office.

West has qualified to appear on the ballot in at least Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Utah and Vermont, according to spokespersons for the election offices in those states. A spokesman for the Iowa secretary of state’s office said West’s nominating petitions have been accepted in that state but are still subject to objections.

(An earlier version corrected the spelling of West’s first name in headline, first paragraph.)

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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