Kanye West Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0) CC BY 3.0
In a 5-1 vote, the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) decided that Kanye West is not eligible to be on the ballot as an independent for this fall’s presidential election. The commissioners ruled that West’s nomination papers were not turned in by the 5 p.m. deadline on Aug. 4.
Michael Curran, the West campaign’s attorney, attempted to argue that the statutory phrase “no later than 5 p.m.” for the deadline meant that the campaign had until one second before 5:01 p.m. to turn in the paperwork — leading the commissioners into a long and arcane discussion of the intricacies of the concept of time.
Ultimately commissioners decided that the paperwork was turned in after 5:01 p.m. anyway.
The lone no vote was cast by Republican-appointed Commissioner Robert Spindell. Spindell’s view on the West nomination was a departure from his statements on timeliness in previous meetings.
On April 10, when the WEC was discussing any potential changes to the nomination process because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Spindell argued there were no excuses and candidates needed to hit the hard deadline and even one minute was too late.
“They just have to understand one way or another it’s got to be in by 5 o’clock,” Spindell said at the April meeting.
But on Thursday, Spindell said the West campaign was hindered by COVID-19 precautions and wasn’t late turning in the paperwork, despite WEC staff testifying that the paperwork wasn’t turned over until at least 5:01 p.m.
Spindell also accused the Wisconsin Democratic Party of suppressing the Black vote by challenging West’s candidacy.
Democrats “do not wish to have Mr. West on the ballot because they’re afraid that Blacks may vote for him as opposed to Mr. Biden,” he said. “It was close, but I think [the papers] were handed over before 5:00:59.”
All five commissioners who voted to reject West’s candidacy said that the WEC had to uphold its rules and late is late no matter how close.
Republican Commissioner Dean Knudson, who along with Spindell argued in April for strict adherence to the rules, said that those rules should be applied to every candidate the same way.
“Consistency requires me to treat all candidates the same, regardless of their color, or any other characteristic of the candidate,” Knudson said. “While I regret it’s the case, I do not feel like they filed timely.”
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