Virginia Supreme Court Rejects Kanye West’s Attempt to Get on the Ballot

Kanye West listens to a question from a reporter during an Oct. 11, 2018, meeting with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

RICHMOND, Va. (CN) — Virginia’s highest court Thursday denied an appeal by rapper Kanye West in his effort to get on the state’s 2020 general election ballot as a presidential candidate.

The two page order issued by the Virginia Supreme Court points to technical issues involving the appeal’s order of events and jurisdiction and maintained an injunction blocking West from the ballot. The court did not address the thorny political side of Kanye’s attempt to get on the ballot, which has drawn condemnation from some Democrats as a Trump-supported spoiler against Vice President Joe Biden’s bid for office.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring praised the decision.

“This case could have thrown the election into chaos,” said the Democrat who argued in filings that ballots were already being printed and readied for delivery ahead of Friday’s deadline to mail them to voters. Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Virginia is expected to see a sharp increase in mail-in voting.

“Today’s ruling will keep things on track and help to ensure that every single vote is counted in November,” Herring added.

West’s name was being printed on ballots in Virginia at the beginning of the month until several of his state electors claimed they were duped into signing documents promising to support the candidate. 

“They said they were collecting names for voters to be placed in a pool to be electors for the state of Virginia,” Matthan Wilson said of his interaction with members of the West campaign before Richmond Circuit Judge Joi Taylor. Wilson phoned in his testimony at the socially-distanced emergency hearing held earlier in the month.

“I felt I was misled into signing that document under false pretenses and I do not intend to vote for him,” he said.

Taylor issued an order blocking Kanye from the ballot shortly after the hearing, and West appealed with the help of Trevor M. Stanley of Baker & Hostetler. 

Virginia’s highest court accepted written arguments from both parties in relation to the court’s jurisdiction on the election dispute and West responded with a lengthy brief, including arguments on the merits of the case, last week.

“[Richmond Circuit] court apparently failed to consider the likelihood that any misunderstanding was the result of miscommunication and not outright fraud,” Stanley argued. “And it is eminently plausible that [Wilson] was told his obligation would be to vote for Mr. West if he won the statewide vote, but the other contingencies — i.e., the contingency of voting for other candidates — was lost in translation.”

However that argument failed to sway the court.

“We’re glad the West campaign’s fraud was not able to insert itself into the election this year,” said Justin Sheldon with Breit Cantor who represented Wilson and other plaintiff electors from around the state.

While Herring defended the Virginia Department of Elections and board president Robert Brink  from Wilson’s claim, the Democrat, who recently announced a run for reelection in 2021, suggested the West campaign could have been guilty of fraud and asked the court to make the final call in the case.

“Illegal and underhanded behavior has no place in Virginia elections,” Senior Assistant Attorney General Heather Lockerman told Judge Taylor. “We’re here to listen and support whatever finding the court makes.”

Thursday’s loss marks the third of the week for West after courts in West Virginia and Wisconsin similarly booted him from their state’s ballots.

Alongside his run for president, West has displayed outlandish behavior over the last few months. Less than 24 hours before Thursday’s bad news in Virginia, the multi-award-wining creator of “College Dropout” posted a video of himself urinating on one of his 21 Grammys.

“Trust me…. I WONT STOP,” reads the accompanying tweet.

The West campaign could not immediately be reached for comment.

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