Kanye West will not appear on the presidential ballot in the US state of Wisconsin after the Wisconsin Elections Commission ruled that his campaign team submitted their qualifying paperwork late.
A bipartisan election panel, comprising of three Republicans and three Democrats, voted 5-1 against West during a hearing in Wisconsin yesterday (August 20). Republican Robert Spindell was the only commissioner to vote in favour of West.
The commission found that West’s team did not file the required nomination papers on time, by 5PM on August 4, and rejected the argument of the rapper and producer’s attorney that his campaign team had until 5:01PM to file.
Wisconsin state law states that candidates must file nomination papers “not later” than 5PM.
“When you’re late, you’re late,” Commissioner Julie Glancey said following the panel’s 5-1 vote (via Politico). “We’ve knocked people off the ballot for being one signature short. If we are holding their feet to the fire on the number of signatures, we need to hold their feet to the fire on the time they file.”
Wisconsin Democratic Party attorney Jeffrey Mandell said there was clear evidence that West’s team filed the papers late and “they cannot be allowed.” (via CNN)
Republican Commissioner Dean Knudson added: “Five o’clock is five o’clock. Maybe I’m just common sense and not a lawyer.”
In a statement issued in response to the panel’s vote, the Wisconsin Republican Party’s executive director Mark Jefferson claimed that Wisconsin Democrats had “successfully fought to deny ballot access to an African American because he was seconds late with his paperwork”.
“The left wants to clear any liberal competition for Democrats, while ensuring a Libertarian is on the ballot to siphon votes from Republicans,” Jefferson said. “Democrats are only interested in voter enfranchisement if they believe they will benefit. If they don’t benefit, they don’t care.”
Ann Jacobs, who is the chair of the Wisconsin Elections Commission and a Democrat, told reporters that she did not see any “hypocrisy” in the decision to not grant West access to the presidential ballot in Wisconsin.
“I do not think it’s unreasonable to expect people who are seeking higher office to do something as simple as walk through a door before 5 o’clock at night, which is the deadline,” Jacobs said.
West, who is running as an independent candidate under The Birthday Party, has so far qualified to be on the presidential ballot in Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Utah and Vermont.
West’s campaign will now switch its focus to his home state of Illinois, where he has reportedly only turned in 1200 valid signatures of the 2500 needed to get on the presidential ballot in the state. His representatives will defend the validity of the signatures later today (August 21).