Kanye West appeals decision by judge to remove him from Virginia ballot

Some localities have already started printing ballots

The rapper was recently barred from appearing on the Arizona ballot after a judge feared he would bring 'irreparable harm' to democracy
The rapper was recently barred from appearing on the Arizona ballot after a judge feared he would bring 'irreparable harm' to democracy

Independent presidential candidate Kanye West is fighting to get back on the ballot in Virginia after a judge threw him off last week, urging the state's highest court to weigh in quickly because ballots are already being printed and absentee voting starts next week.

Attorneys for the rapper-entrepreneur filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Virginia late on Tuesday, seeking to overturn Thursday's Richmond Circuit Court ruling that found the West campaign had tricked some voters into helping him get on the ballot.

“Ballots will be printed soon and may already be being printed in some Virginia counties, so resolution of this case is essential by on or before September 18 2020,” West's attorneys wrote to the Supreme Court in a motion for expedited consideration.

In-person absentee voting begins on 18 September and the state faces a 19 September deadline to mail absentee ballots, which are in high demand this year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

State Department of Elections spokeswoman Andrea Gaines said the department does not comment on pending litigation. She confirmed that “some localities have started printing their ballots”.

Fairfax County, with nearly 770,000 registered voters, has been printing ballots without Mr West's name, county spokesman Brian Worthy said Wednesday. It was unclear what would happen to those ballots if Mr West's appeal succeeds.

An outspoken supporter of Donald Trump, Mr West could act as a spoiler in swing states by drawing black voters away from Joe Biden. Republican operatives and lawyers have supported Mr West's efforts in at least a half-dozen states.

Mr West has been ousted from the ballot in several other states because of deficient paperwork. Last month, Virginia's Board of Elections found that he had met the requirements for the ballot: his team had gathered 5,000 petition signatures - at least 200 of them from each congressional district - and pledges from 13 voters to support him as electors.

Marc E Elias and other attorneys at the nationally prominent Democratic firm Perkins Coie represented two voters who brought the Virginia lawsuit last week, claiming that Mr West's campaign had tricked them into signing up as electors.

The BakerHostetler lawyers who filed Mr West's appeal, Trevor Stanley and Mark Braden, “have extensive ties to the Republican Party,” Charlotte Gomer, spokeswoman for Democratic attorney general Mark Herring, said on Wednesday in a news release about the appeal. She noted that the lawyers had represented the Republican Party of Virginia in the spring, when it opposed a change to absentee voting requirements.

Stanley and Braden did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

In a hearing on Thursday, Richmond Circuit  Court Judge Joi Jeter Taylor found that 11 of the elector oaths were “obtained by improper, fraudulent and/or misleading means, or are otherwise invalid” because of irregularities related to how they were notarised.

In the appeal, Mr West's lawyers contend that Ms Taylor erred, in part because the campaign had little time to arrange for witnesses or otherwise prepare for the hearing, which was held two days after the suit was filed. Mr Herring's office had requested an expedited hearing because of looming deadlines for printing and mailing ballots.

The Washington Post

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