IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Wisconsin election board rejects Kanye West's bid for state's presidential ballot

By a 5-1 vote, the election board ruled that West's application was turned in too late to be accepted.
Image: Rapper Kanye West holds his first rally in support of his presidential bid in North Charleston
Rapper Kanye West holds his first rally in support of his presidential bid in North Charleston, S.C., on July 19, 2020.Randall Hill / Reuters file

Kanye West's hopes to get on the ballot in Wisconsin were squashed late Thursday when the state's election board ruled that his application was submitted too late, a major blow to the music superstar’s presidential bid, which has been bolstered by Republicans across the country.

The commission agreed by a vote of 5-1 to reject West’s petition to get on the state’s presidential ballot as an independent candidate because his petition signatures were delivered shortly after the state’s 5 p.m. deadline.

West faced multiple challenges to his ballot petition that included questions about the veracity of his signatures as well as the charge he missed the state’s deadline.

West is almost certainly not going to be on enough ballots to win the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, and wouldn’t have been even if he gained a ballot spot in Wisconsin.

But the decision ends the attempt by West to obtain ballot access in a key battleground state that President Donald Trump won by less than 23,000 votes in 2016.

The challenge hinged on a lengthy, esoteric discussion as to what time representatives of West’s campaign entered the building to file, and whether the state’s deadline of “no later than 5 p.m.” actually encompassed the first minute of 5 p.m.

Ultimately, all but one member of the commission was convinced West’s petitions were filed too late, and the committee voted more than two-and-a-half hours into its meeting to reject West’s attempt to be on the ballot.

It was not immediately clear whether West would appeal the decision.

West also lost his bid to make the ballot in Montana Thursday when the Montana Secretary of State tossed enough of his petition signatures that he fell short of the requirements there.

Wisconsin was just one of the states where West’s long-shot bid received a boost from GOP-connected operatives.

Lane Ruhland, a veteran election lawyer who has advised the state Republican Party and is representing the Trump campaign in a lawsuit against an NBC affiliate, delivered West’s petition signatures, Vice first reported. And two of West’s Wisconsin presidential electors donated to Trump’s re-election in June of this year.

There have been other Republicans linked to West’s ballot-access efforts in states like Colorado, Missouri and Arkansas.

West himself is a registered Republican voter in Wyoming who has repeatedly praised Trump, most notably during a 2018 Oval Office visit when he wore a Trump signature “Make America Great Again” hat. And Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-an-law and senior adviser, confirmed that he met with West recently in Colorado.

All of those links between the West campaign and Republicans has prompted outcry from some Democrats who wonder if Republicans are trying to capitalize on West’s candidacy to try to peel votes away from Biden.

“It makes our job a little easier. We can continue to be focused on getting rid of President Trump and electing the Biden-Harris ticket,” said Angela Lang, a Democratic organizer in Wisconsin who’s also the executive director of Black Leaders Organizing for Communities.

Lang pointed to questions about whether Republicans boosting West hoped to siphon away Black voters from Biden after Black turnout declined across key states in the 2016 election. Trump tweeted in July that it "shouldn’t be hard” for West to do so, and West’s recent criticism of Biden on racial issues has echoed lines of attacks by the Trump campaign.

“It’s offensive to think our political analysis as Black folks is that we’re going to show up and vote for a Black rapper with high name recognition,” Lang said. “We want to feel like we’re being heard.”

“A lot of folks, myself included, aren’t against third party candidates. It’s healthy for our democracy. If he came with legitimate plans and real criticisms of the current president, maybe people would be more inclined to listen. But people are seeing right through this.”