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Kanye West will not be on Virginia's ballot this November

Posted at 4:23 PM, Sep 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 18:35:46-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Kanye West will not be on Virginia's presidential ballot on November 3.

A law firm with ties to prominent Democrats filed a lawsuit attempting to keep the rapper off Virginia presidential ballots.

Attorneys for Perkins Coie filed the lawsuit in Richmond on Tuesday on behalf of two people who say they were tricked into signing an “Elector Oath” backing West’s candidacy.

In an affidavit, Matthan Wilson of Suffolk wrote that, "The Representatives asked me to sign to be an 'elector for the state' and that my 'name would be entered into a pool to be individually picked to be part of the Electoral College.' I was not informed that I was committed to vote for Kanye West or any other particular candidate.'

Under state law, a candidate must have 13 electors pledge their support for a candidate as part of the criteria to appear on the ballot.

The lawsuit alleges that 11 of West’s 13 electors may be invalid and asks the court to block West’s name from appearing on ballots.

Richmond Circuit Court Judge Joi Taylor found that 11 of the elector oaths were obtained by "improper, fraudulent, or misleading means, or are otherwise invalid because of notarial violations and misconduct" and do not count towards the minimum requirement.

She also found "that the notice of qualification issued by the Department of Elections to Kanye contrary to Virginia law, and is therefore, invalid."

The plaintiff's attorney, Justin Sheldon, told the judge that a notary public that signed a majority of the Elector Oaths had a financial investment to gather signatures.

"[West] meets the basic qualifications under the Constitution. The issue is did he abide by the requirements to get himself on the ballot to be a candidate," Sheldon explained after the hearing.

CBS 6 Political Analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth said while Presidential Donald Trump has an uphill battle to win Virginia in November, West on the ballot in battleground states could have an impact.

"What’s happening here is the Democratic Party certainly believes that if Kanye West is on the ballot there is the potential he could take some votes away from Joe Biden. Maybe particular among younger folks and they’re a little worried about this," Holsworth stated.

The plaintiffs urged Judge Taylor to issue a ruling on Thursday since Friday is the state's ballot printing deadline. An election official said approximately 656,000 Virginians have requested absentee ballots.

West's attorney urged the judge to continue the case to allow them more time to collect and submit evidence. They had requested to remove Attorney General Mark Herring from the case, which the judge denied.

With Taylor's ruling, West has been removed from Virginia's ballot for November's general election.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.