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Two Voters Challenge Kanye’s Candidacy With Ballots Set to Print

Trump speaks to Kanye West and reporters
President Donald Trump speaks to Kanye West in the Oval Office. (White House)

Two Virginia voters are suing to prevent rapper Kanye West from appearing on Virginia's ballot as an independent candidate for president. Attorney General Mark Herring, who is defending the state, suggested the case may have merit.

The move is creating headaches for registrars, some of whom already had ballot proofs certified by the state and were set to begin printing.

Virginia election officials certified Kanye West’s candidacy last week.

But at least three people listed on his paperwork as electors say they were not told they would be backing the rapper. They filed affidavits with the Department of Elections requesting they be removed as electors.

Two of them are now suing three members of the State Board of Elections and the Department of Elections to keep him off the ballot as an independent.

In the  complaint, Newport News teacher Matthan Wilson alleges he was approached while on a bike ride and asked if he wanted to become an “elector of the state” without any mention of West’s name. The other plaintiff, Bryan Wright of Suffolk, was approached by a West campaign representative and “signed the document under the false pretense that it was a petition, not an Elector Oath.”

Seven of West’s thirteen electors in Virginia told a New York Magazine reporter that they were unaware they’d signed up to cast electoral votes on his behalf or that they’d signed paperwork connected to his campaign.

In a response filed by Attorney General Mark Herring on Wednesday, the Democrat called the allegations of fraud "concerning" and urged a swift decision.

“The Commonwealth of Virginia, including the state elections officials and entities named as Defendants, does not tolerate any type of election fraud,” the brief says. “Similarly, this Court has had little patience for keeping candidates on the ballot who have used underhanded and fraudulent tactics to 'steal a spot on the ballot.'”

West’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The rapper has appeared alongside President Donald Trump, who said last month that he likes Kanye “very much.” His campaign has been supported by Republican operatives.

West’s campaign is suing to get on the ballots in Ohio and Wisconsin. He is being represented by Republican-affilaited attorneys, according to CNN.

Democratic Party of Virginia chairwoman Susan Swecker is among those who’ve suggested foul play.

“This reeks of fraud and must be investigated,” Swecker tweeted. “Integrity of the election process is at risk.”

Any changes will require swift action from the Richmond Circuit Court, where the complaint was filed. Some registrars have already submitted their ballot proofs for approval to the Department of Elections ahead of the start of absentee voting on September 18.

York County registrar Walt Latham said he’d got that approval but agreed to put off printing ballots until Thursday after a discussion with the chairman of the county’s electoral board.

“We’re really needing to get these done so we can start preparing packages to mail out to voters,” Latham said.

Registrars are also watching a lawsuit filed by Richmond lawyer Paul Goldman. He’s challenging the language of a ballot question related to a proposed constitutional amendment on redistricting.

In a court filing, Attorney General Mark Herring argued that lawsuit could delay the mailing of absentee ballots, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include Attorney General Mark Herring's response.

Ben Paviour covers courts and criminal justice for VPM News with a focus on accountability.
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