Virginians Say They Were Duped Into Supporting Kanye West’s Presidential Bid

Rapper Kanye West making his first presidential campaign appearance, Sunday, July 19, 2020 in North Charleston, S.C. (Lauren Petracca Ipetracca/The Post And Courier via AP)

RICHMOND, VA. (CN) — Two Virginians claim they were misled into supporting rapper Kanye West’s effort to get on their state’s presidential ballot this November according to a new lawsuit.

While the complaint obtained by Courthouse News Service is not yet visible in the state’s record system, a version of the document was posted online and appears to be filed by the same legal team, including Aria Branch with the DC-based Perkins Coie, who were behind a since-failed effort to block GOP candidates around the state who missed filing deadlines from getting on the ballot.

Plaintiff Matthan Wilson of Suffolk says he was riding his bike when he was approached by a representative of the West campaign who asked him to sign a petition for a chance to become an “elector for the state.” The representative told him he 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,” Wilson says in the complaint.

Wilson’s story mirrors an affidavit submitted last week in which he said he was flabbergasted to discover his name on the list of one of Kanye’s state electors who swore to vote for the candidate. 

The lawsuit comes just days after the West campaign announced it had collected the 5,000 signatures necessary to get on the ballot, with 200 from each district as well as 11 electors. 

But if what Wilson claims in his lawsuit is true, it could throw a wrench in the rapper’s presidential bid: his application would run afoul of the state law governing independent candidates which require “one elector residing in each congressional district.” 

According to ballot signature documents obtained by Courthouse News, Wilson was supposed to be the 3rd District elector while co-plaintiff Bryan Wright was an “at-large” elector.  

The suit names the Virginia Department of Elections, Brink and other members of the state board as defendants. Wilson and Wright seek an injunction disqualifying West from the ballot, but that too might be a problem.

In a another suit filed last week which challenges the language of a proposed redistricting amendment, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring told the Supreme Court of Virginia such ballot changes would be nearly impossible as some districts had already started printing ballots in anticipation of a coronavirus-inspired flood of mail-in ballots.

“Any changes that are made to the form of the ballot now will mean that these localities will be unable to mail ballots to voters 45 days before the election, as required by state and federal law,” Herring told the court.  

West has boasted of having presidential dreams for years, and they often resurface around the same time he releases new music. But 2020 appears to be his first effort, with his name set to appear as an option in a handful of states including Oklahoma and the swing state of Minnesota. 

His effort, first announced on Twitter on July 4, hasn’t been all successful however; he abandoned plans to get on the New Jersey ballot in August. 

Still, beyond his own stardom Kanye’s campaign has attracted attention because of his relationship with President Donald Trump. After meeting with the president in the Oval Office and being seen wearing a red MAGA hat, some, like fellow celebrity Nick Cannon, are asking if the bid is more of a scam then a genuine effort. 

“People keep on saying ‘I think that you and Republicans are in cahoots’,” Kanye said during Cannon’s podcast in August, defending himself from comments that his run is an attempt to spoil a win for Democrat Joe Biden. “Nobody paid me, I got more money than Trump.”

He added: “I’m not running for president, I’m walking.”

West’s campaign, according to several rallies he’s since held around the country ahead of ballot filing deadlines, include opposition to abortion and the death penalty alongside support for the legalization of marijuana. 

Attempts to reach West, Herring and the state’s board of elections for comment were not returned by press time.

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