Jeramey Jannene

Kanye West Booted From Wisconsin Ballot

Commission votes 5-1 to reject candidacy on basis West's filing was late. Legal challenge possible.

By - Aug 20th, 2020 06:05 pm
Kanye West performing at Lollapalooza on April 3, 2011 in Santiago, Chile. Photo by rodrigoferrari / CC BY-SA (

Kanye West performing at Lollapalooza on April 3, 2011 in Santiago, Chile. Photo by rodrigoferrari / CC BY-SA (

The Wisconsin Elections Commission spent over two hours hearing testimony and discussing technical matters on whether hip hop artist turned Presidential candidate Kanye West should be allowed on the Wisconsin ballot.

Their decision? No.

West’s paperwork did not enter the Wisconsin Elections Commission building in Madison until 5:00:14 p.m. according to the commission staff. West’s attorney, in a subsequent filing, argued they had until the clock struck 5:01:00 p.m. to file it.

But the commission’s staff rejected that argument. It said it took several more minutes to submit the paperwork, including West’s attorney Lane E. Ruhland, who also does work for the Trump campaign, having to number the nominating papers.

“If you’re late, you’re late, and that’s just the way it is,” said attorney Mark Thomsen, one of three Democrats appointed to the six-member bipartisan board.

“It seems to me, common sense would be that all times that start with a four are before five o’clock and all that start with a five are after,” said former state representative Dean Knudson, one of the Republican appointees.

West’s submission, which included a valid number of signatures despite those from “Mickey Mouse” and “Bernie Sanders,” was challenged by individuals affiliated with the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

West’s filing was defended by attorney Michael Curran. He argued the 5:01:00 p.m. argument and said the language in state law is “a drafting error.”

Republican appointee Robert Spindell was the lone member to attempt to help Curran make his case and supported the 5:01 argument.

He asked Curran if Democrats were attempting to strike West from the ballot because they believed he would cause Black voters to vote for him over Joe Biden.

“I think that there are different reasons, but that’s likely one of them,” said Curran.

It is possible Republicans want that to happen. West has had multiple meetings with President Donald Trump and worn a Trump campaign hat in public.

But Spindell accused Democrats of attempting to suppress Black voters. “My point is when are they going to stop suppressing the Black vote,” said Spindell, a supporter of the state’s Voter ID law.

He later doubled down on the reasoning, bringing up a reduction in polling places from approximately 180 to five in Milwaukee for the April 7th election.

“Mr. West is an African American candidate, and I think we should do all we can after the terrible treatment the Black population in Milwaukee received during the April election to give them a choice,” said Spindell, a Milwaukee resident.

Spindell was not as sympathetic during the April election cycle. “One way or another, it’s gotta be in by 5 o’clock,” said Spindell at an earlier meeting, a fact first noticed by reporter JR Ross.

The commission voted 5-1 to reject West’s candidacy, following the guidance of commission staff and testimony from both parties.

Knudson said it was a close call. He said the opponents, represented by attorney Jeffrey Mandell, met the burden of proof that West was late. “I do not feel like they filed timely,” said Knudson.

West’s legal team could still appeal the ruling in court.

A full copy of the staff report can be found on Urban Milwaukee.

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More about the 2020 General Election

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More about the Kanye West Campaign

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Categories: Politics

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