Kanye West Brings Legal Challenge to Ballot Ban in Ohio

Kanye West
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August 26, 2020

Rapper, fashion mogul, and independent contender in the 2020 presidential election Kanye West on Wednesday afternoon sued Ohio's secretary of state for rejecting his application to be listed on the state's ballot for the November election.

In a suit brought before the Ohio Supreme Court, West and running mate and pastor Michelle Tidball ask the court to compel the secretary of state's office to accept their petitions, overturning its decision to deny them based on a claimed discrepancy in signatures on two official campaign filings.

The Ohio filing is just the latest blow in the rapper-turned-candidate's struggle to appear on the ballot in November, when he is slated to be officially recognized in only a handful of states. Several more have, like Ohio, denied West ballot access.

A source with knowledge of the situation told the Washington Free Beacon that there are going to be "very aggressive legal efforts in Ohio and in states across the country to get Kanye on the ballot where he was qualified to do so. Attempts to keep Kanye off the ballot will be dealt with vigorously in court, without exception."

Earlier this month, West and Tidball filed the paperwork to the secretary of state's office to get on the Ohio ballot. At the time, the campaign submitted nearly 15,000 signatures, almost three times the state's minimum requirement.

But two weeks later, West's filing claims, Ohio director of elections Amanda Grandjean informed the campaign that the application had been denied, because the statement of candidacy they submitted to the secretary's office did not correspond to a copy of the statement associated with the nominating petition circulated by the campaign. In particular, Tidball's signature did not match on the two documents, "calling into question which is genuine," Grandjean wrote.

The same day Ohio secretary of state Frank LaRose announced West and Tidball's denial, he simultaneously announced that Green Party candidates Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker had been granted ballot access.

"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 said at the time. "There is no doubt that the West nominating petition and declaration of candidacy failed to meet the necessary threshold for certification."

The West campaign, however, disagrees. It argued in its filing that a perfect match is not required, except insofar as a lack of correspondence actively misleads voters. Tidball, it noted, has "acknowledged that, notwithstanding any perceived variation, the signatures that appear in both the Statements of Candidacy and in the statement of candidacy copied to other part-petitions are, in fact, her genuine signature."

As such, the filing argues, LaRose and Grandjean are guilty of an abuse of their discretion; in remedy, they ask that the state Supreme Court compel LaRose to place West and Tidball on its ballot.

A legal victory would net West's quixotic campaign access to Ohio's 18 electoral votes and add the Buckeye State to the list of states where he will be on the ballot in November: Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, and Vermont.

Even a victory in Ohio means an uphill battle for West, however, who is polling at 2 percent nationwide. He has been kicked off the ballot in Montana, New Jersey, and his home state of Illinois; his campaign also missed a crucial filing deadline to submit information to the Federal Elections Commission. But it is expected to fight on, both in the courts and in remaining states like Arizona, where West is expected to drop a small fortune on collecting signatures.

Published under: 2020 Election , Kanye West