Kanye West’s campaign insisted Monday that his nomination papers to make the presidential ballot in Wisconsin were filed on time even if the person dropping them off entered the Elections Commission office building slightly after 5 p.m. on the day they were due.
Responding to two challenges of the entertainer’s nomination papers, his campaign said the commission indicated the nomination papers were filed at 14 seconds past 5 p.m on Tuesday. It argued if accurate, the papers were still on time because the state’s requirement that they be filed “no later” than 5 p.m. means the actual deadline is 5:01 p.m. before they’re considered late.
The two challenges, including one from the state Dem Party, alleged a host of issues with West’s nomination papers, including they were filed late, there numerous problems with how circulators and electors filled them out, and that some were duped into signing them.
West attorney Michael Curran, of Spring Green, charged the complaints are part of a “well-organized effort funded by wealthy outside groups, including the Wisconsin Democratic Party and its allies, who fear the candidacy of Kanye West, and seek to silence him.”
West’s efforts to make the ballot in various states have been aided by GOP operatives in what many see as an effort to peel votes away from presumptive Dem nominee Joe Biden in this fall’s presidential election.
“The Kanye West campaign represents a uniting, inspiring and faith-based vision that is successfully motivating disenfranchised and previously unengaged voters to participate in the political process,” the response says.
The initial Elections Commission review of the nomination papers found West had filed 2,422 signatures, with 2,000 valid signatures needed to qualify. But the challenges listed numerous deficiencies with the papers that if upheld by the Elections Commission would deny West ballot access.
Agency staff will now review the challenges and the response before presenting a recommendation to the six-person commission, which is expected to meet by late August on the issue.
In one of the complaints filed Friday, the state Dem Party argued state law requires the nomination papers to be in possession of commission staff by 5 p.m., not just in the building that houses the office.
Video WISN-TV posted from outside the Elections Commission building last week showed the person who dropped off the nomination papers walking through the doors after 5 p.m.
Monday’s response argued West attorney Lane Ruhland, who has numerous ties to GOP politics and has done work for President Trump’s campaign, was advised she would have to call the commission to get a staffer to open the door to the building where the agency is housed because the doors were locked. The filing said that process cost filers “at least 45 seconds.”
The filing also argued campaign staff was “immediately delayed by an overly aggressive media as well as a Democratic operative.” The WISN-TV video posted last week showed Ruhland getting out of a car and walking into the building that houses the commission office. As she approached the door, a reporter asked her if she had West’s nomination papers.
The challenge argued the Elections Commission lacks a “common clock or common timekeeper,” violating the Equal Protection Clause because the same time piece isn’t used for every candidate. It also dismissed WISN-TV’s reporting as “hearsay.”
What’s more, the response, filed just before Monday’s 4:30 p.m. deadline, also argued the commission accepting the paperwork “ratified the filing as timely.”
The challenges also alleged circulators failed to properly list their home addresses on the nomination papers, arguing 637 signatures should be struck for that reason. They also listed a host of other problems such as signers listing an address other than the one where they are registered to vote; signatures didn’t include a legible printed name; entries that didn’t include the elector’s municipality; and those that failed to include a full date when they were signed.
The filing dismissed charges some electors were tricked into signing the papers. The response says one elector “after being contacted and harassed by Democratic Party operatives, appears to suffer from buyer remorse and claims to not have understood what they signed.”