Kanye West’s campaign faces a legal challenge that accuses his party the Birthday Party of fraudulently obtaining elector oaths to qualify for the presidential ballot in Virginia.
On August 28th, a week after the state’s electoral deadline, Virginia’s Department of Elections announced that West would appear as an independent candidate on the state’s ballots on Election Day. The board accepted the campaign’s candidacy after the Birthday Party submitted the requisite oaths from 13 electors who pledged their support for West, as well as a petition of at least 5,000 signatures of registered voters supporting West that included 200 voter signatures from each congressional district.
However, soon after the Department of Elections announced that the Birthday Party qualified, some of the 13 electors — “who are required by law to vote for the President and Vice President listed on the petition,” the notarized Elector Oath states — revealed to the Washington Post that they were duped into aligning with West’s campaign, and that they had no intention of voting for him in November.
On Monday, a pair of those electors — Matthan Wilson and Bryce Wright — filed a writ against the Virginia State Board of Elections and the Virginia Department of Elections alleging how the West campaign’s signatures were “obtained under false pretenses,” and accordingly asked the Department of Elections to remove West from the November ballot. The news was first reported by journalist Ben Jacobs.
“This case involves Kanye West’s qualification to appear as an independent candidate for President of the United States on the Virginia ballot in the November 3, 2020 general election despite his clear failure to meet the minimum candidacy requirements,” the writ states.
“On or about August 11, 2020, Plaintiff Matthan Wilson was approached by a representative of the West campaign while he was riding his bike,” the writ continued. “The representative asked Wilson to sign to be an ‘elector for the state’ and told him that his name ‘would be entered into a pool to be individually picked to be part of the Electoral College.’ Wilson was not told that he was committing to vote for West or any other candidate. At the time Wilson signed the Elector Oath, he did not know he was signing to be an elector for West: ‘Kanye West’s name was never mentioned.’” Wilson only found out he was an elector for the Birthday Party when the Washington Post approached him about it.
Wright, a “committed Republican,” claims he was only signing a petition in favor of including West on Virginia’s ballot; GOP operatives have reportedly been in the forefront of the fight to get West on the ballot in battleground states, believing the rapper would siphon votes from Biden. “I don’t think there’s any question about that,” House Majority Whip James Clyburn recently said.
However, Wright was instead unknowingly signing an Elector Oath that pledged him to the Birthday Party. “If I had known that by signing the form, I committed to act as an elector for Kanye West and [West’s vice presidential pick] Michelle Tidball, and to vote for them as an elector, I never would have done so,” Wright said in the complaint.
The writ states that at least of the three of the elector signatures were obtained fraudulently, while another eight Elector Oaths “are invalid for other disqualifying reasons.”
The Virginia State Board of Elections and Department of Elections “are gatekeepers of the Commonwealth’s democratic process and have a plain duty to ensure that the only candidates who appear on Virginia’s ballots are those who have met minimum ballot access qualifications under Virginia law,” the writ noted. “Furthermore, in this case, they have a clear duty to revisit and reverse their decision to qualify West’s candidacy and to take all appropriate action to ensure that the fraud that permeates the Elector Oaths does not taint the November presidential election.”
The plaintiffs are seeking the board’s immediate action, as they note that absentee ballots must be sent to voters by September 4th. A rep for West did not reply to a request for comment. A rep for the Virginia State Board of Elections said the department “does not comment on pending litigation.”
As of now, Virginia is one of over a handful of states that will recognize West’s candidacy on the ballot, joining Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Utah, Vermont and Tennessee; in late August, the Birthday Party also failed to qualify for the ballot in Wisconsin and West Virginia, where an audit of the necessary 15,000 signatures the campaign delivered found that only 6,383 were confirmed and registered West Virginia voters.
West’s campaign has also deployed representatives to the parking lots of Kentucky supermarkets in an effort to obtain enough signatures for the rapper to appear on that state’s ballot, Spectrum News reported Tuesday.