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Kanye West sues to get on Wisconsin ballot

Published: Aug. 28, 2020 at 6:27 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A week after he was barred from appearing on the Wisconsin presidential ballot, rapper Kanye West is taking the commission that made that decision to court.

On Friday, West filed a lawsuit in Brown Co. against the Wisconsin Elections Commission. He is asking the court to rule his nominating papers were submitted on time and to direct the WEC to ensure he and his running mate, Michelle Tidwell, appear on the ballot in November.

Last Thursday, the WEC voted 5-1 to reject his attempt to run in the Badger State, ruling that he missed the five o’clock deadline for submitting the 2,000 signatures required for someone to get their name listed.

The meaning of a five o’clock deadline has become the nexus of the dispute between the WEC and West’s camp. Commissioners argued that a 5 p.m. deadline means that submissions cannot be made one second after the five o’clock strikes. West’s lawyers, meanwhile, contend that such a deadline actually expires at 5:01 p.m. and therefore anything filed within that minute should still be considered on time.

The WEC determined that West’s submission came at 5:00:14 p.m., or 14 seconds after its interpretation of the deadline.

In his lawsuit, West challenged the WEC’s interpretation of that deadline, pointing out the statute reads “by 5 p.m.” and that the commission unconstitutionally changed the meaning of the law by adding the qualifier for seconds. Its interpretation is based on the requirement of the U.S. Constitution that a state legislature is given sole discretion for how presidential electors are determined, and the WEC would be required to follow those regulations.

A LOCKED DOOR

Moving past the meaning of 14 seconds, the case takes exception with the fact the doors to the Commission’s office were locked on the day of the filing deadline and how the process for gaining access to the building played out.

Noting that a locked door would impede a candidate’s ability to get into the building prior to the deadline, West’s lawyers noted that, beyond the doors being locked, the commission did not assign anyone to unlock them so potential candidates could submit their documents in a timely manner.

While the plaintiff’s acknowledge a lawyer representing them at the time, Lane Ruland, of the Husch Blackwell Law Firm, was informed the commission’s doors would be locked as well as the second layer of doors at the front of the building, it went into great detail the steps required to gain access and how that created unnecessary delays.

Firstly, lawyers say Ruhland was not informed the number she was using when she learned the doors would be locked was not the one that she would need to call to get in. They later told her she would find that number when she arrived at the building. After arriving and calling, the suit argues a Commission Specialist came to open the front door and accepted the nominating papers and accepted them as arriving “not later than 5 p.m.”

West’s attorneys argue they were not told the filing was late until afterwards.

They also contend they have no knowledge of the official timepiece that determined the documents were filed at 5:00:14 p.m. They say no time stamp or other evidence has been presented to them to corroborate the time.

As such, they argue the WEC incorrectly ruled that the documents were late.

In addition to West and Tidwell, the lawsuit names Fred Krumberger, who helped shepherd West’s attempt to get on the ballot, as plaintiffs.

In a request for comment, the WEC told NBC15 the commission does not comment on lawsuits.

SUING IN OHIO, TOO

West has also filed suit in Ohio this week after it too ruled West and Tidwell did not meet the requirements to appear on the ballot. Its Secretary of State Frank LaRose announced on Aug. 21 that West and his running mate did not meet the requirements to be on the presidential ballot in Ohio for the 2020 election.

Independent candidates for president and vice president must file a valid joint nominating petition and statement of candidacy to be on the ballot.

LaRose says the information and signature on West’s nominating petition and statement of candidacy did not match the nominating petition and statement of candidacy signed by voters.

According to the lawsuit, it is mandatory that the Ohio Secretary of State accepts any petition unless a protest is filed or the petition violates any other requirements established by law.

West is asking the court to compel LaRose to accept the statements of candidacy and nominating petition for placement on the Nov. 3 ballot.

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