By Seth Klamann and Nick Reynolds
Casper Star-Tribune Via Wyoming News Exchange 

Kanye West collects signatures for presidential bid


August 13, 2020

CASPER — Kanye West is officially trying to get on Wyoming’s presidential ballot as an independent candidate this fall, a spokesman with the Wyoming Secretary of State confirmed Tuesday morning.

Within a day of the rapper’s filing, county clerks began to field reports about West’s signature gatherers violating state law by being too close to polling places.

According to the Secretary of State’s Office, representatives for West, who lives on a ranch outside of Cody, filed paperwork sometime Monday night to officially let him on the campaign trail in a bid to get his name on Wyoming’s ballot. He’s sought to join the ballot in other parts of the country, though the signatures his staff have gathered have in some states been challenged or completely thrown out.

Tracy Good, the Natrona County clerk, told the Star-Tribune that her office had been notified of two instances where people gathering signatures for West were too close to polling stations. She said that there had been similar complaints “throughout the state.” Under Wyoming law, there can be no electioneering or gathering of signatures within 100 yards of a polling location.

At the community center in Evansville, a man stood next to the door leading into the polling center. He asked two Star-Tribune journalists if they would sign a petition to get West on the ballot.

He asked other people entering and leaving the building to sign the petition to “take votes” away from Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. He told others that signing the petition would help President Donald Trump. In 2016, Trump won Wyoming by more than 50 points.

Several people stopped to sign the petition, including one who enthusiastically said she would do it if it helped Trump.

Good said she wasn’t aware of the Evansville case but that the man gathering the signatures should’ve been asked to move. Hours after the man set up shop in Evansville, the Star-Tribune visited several Casper polling locations Tuesday afternoon and saw no one gathering signatures.

The Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office has received two reports of petitioners collecting signatures to get on the ballot within a restricted radius of the polling place, a spokesman for the office said. However, a formal complaint has not yet been filed. A message left for the Laramie County clerk was not immediately returned Tuesday.

West – who is currently registered as a Republican, according to reporting by journalist Ben Jacobs – has been working to get his name on the ballot in numerous states in an effort to lure potential Democratic voters away from challenger Joe Biden in this year’s general election, as part of a larger scheme to aid Trump in his re-election bid this fall.

Though some have raised concerns about West’s eligibility to run as an independent, Secretary of State spokesman Will Dinneen told the Star-Tribune that Wyoming law does not preclude candidates affiliated with parties from running as independents if they did not participate in a primary ballot earlier in the year.

West’s efforts to get on the ballot – once seen as a publicity stunt – appear to be growing into a legitimate, national effort to impact the outcome of the 2020 election. While his efforts to get on the ballot in the swing state of Wisconsin have been stalled by accusations of falsified signatures, the rapper and fashion mogul has filed his paperwork in numerous states, and he has already had surrogates on the ground in states like Montana working to get enough signatures to qualify.

In Wyoming, West will need to secure 4,025 signatures to qualify, though the Secretary of State’s Office encourages twice that number in order to avoid any challenges.

Such challenges have become common as West seeks to join ballots across the country. In Illinois, for instance, West submitted more than 3,200 signatures, about 700 more than the threshold. But a preliminary examination of his petition determined that 60 percent of the signatures submitted were invalid, according to the Chicago Tribune.

West was also booted from the New Jersey ballot after a court ruled that many signatures there were invalid, Fox News reported. The outlet quoted an election lawyer who said that “literally every single signature on there came from the same person.”

In Wisconsin, the state Democratic Party is challenging West’s presence on the ballot, claiming that he not only submitted his petition too late but that his signatures include names like Mickey Mouse, Bernie Sanders and Kanye West (which was used twice). The challenge also features affidavits from some voters who say they were duped into signing the petition, including one person who said she was told she had to sign to register to vote.


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