On July 4, rapper Kanye West announced he was mounting a third-party run for president. There were a lot of questions about whether he was serious, since he had already missed the deadline to get on the ballot in six states and had no realistic chance of qualifying in several others. Indeed, since he announced his candidacy, West has missed qualifying deadlines in so many states that there is no mathematical possibility for him to get to 270 electoral votes.
But that hasn’t stopped Kanye from trying. Indeed, he has given very loud indications that he is in the race solely to hinder Joe Biden’s chances of beating Donald Trump. If true, his purported candidacy exposes yet another serious flaw in the Electoral College. Not only is it possible for a candidate to fall short of the 270-vote threshold even while winning the popular vote by a clear margin, but it is far too easy for a bad actor to potentially decide the election despite having no realistic chance of winning himself.
Lest you think this is hyperbole, it came very close to happening in 1948 and 1960. In both cases, had a few thousand votes gone to the Republican candidate instead of the Democrat, a segregationist candidate would have been in a position to be a kingmaker despite winning less than five percent of the popular vote.
This is probably why a lot of eyebrows went up with news that a number of people with close ties to the GOP were helping West get on the ballot on several states. But in at least one state, that effort may have been for naught–in part because of deceitful and potentially criminal behavior on the part of West’s acolytes. Apparently some of West’s canvassers tricked people into signing petitions by making them think they were supporting something else.
On Tuesday, West submitted petitions to qualify for the presidential ballot in Wisconsin. Reporters from WISN-TV in Milwaukee noticed that attorney Lane Ruhland dropped off West’s petitions seconds after the 5 p.m. Central deadline. Ruhland’s involvement raised eyebrows, given her past work for the state and national GOP, as well as the Trump campaign.
However, it seems there are more fundamental problems with West’s petitions than any potential Republican assistance in getting them filed. According to a challenge filed on behalf of four Wisconsin voters by the Wisconsin Democratic Party, a number of people claimed that they were tricked into signing petitions for West. WISN-TV spoke with one of them; watch here.
Hazel Lindsey said that on Monday, she was shopping on Holton Street and Capitol Drive in Milwaukee when she was approached by “a middle-aged black woman” who asked her to sign a petition to get more funding for local communities. But earlier this week, Lindsey said she got a call from the state Democratic Party telling her that she had actually signed a petition to get West on the ballot.
Lindsey was dumbfounded. She trusted the woman because of “how she approached me,” and was eager to do what she could to help. However, had she known she was actually signing a petition for West, she would have “kept walking” because she doesn’t want West in the White House. She has given a sworn affidavit about what she claims happened to her, and wants her name stricken from the petition.
The complaint notes that under Wisconsin election law, if someone who circulates petitions for a candidate lies about the “the nature, meaning, and purpose” of what they’re asking people to sign, all signatures obtained by that person must be thrown out. The Democrats argue that for this reason, at least 880 signatures must be thrown out, as they were obtained by people who deceived others about what they were signing.
This is critical, because West submitted petitions with a total of 2,422 signatures. Without those 880 signatures, West would be down to 1,542 signatures–short of the minimum of 2,000 signatures required to qualify for the ballot.
The complaint makes a number of other allegations. Among other things, it claims West’s canvassers lied about their addresses, several names are either illegible or obviously fake, and several signatories didn’t provide the name of their town or the date they signed. But the prospect that West’s canvassers out-and-out lied to people in order to get them to sign is outrageous and criminal. Whoever is responsible for this must be prosecuted. And that means everyone–not just the canvassers.
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