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Suffolk residents file lawsuit to get Kanye West off ballot in Virginia

Where Kanye West will appear on the ballot
Posted at 9:10 PM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-03 07:33:52-04

RICHMOND, Va. - Two Suffolk residents have filed a lawsuit to get musician Kanye West off the 2020 presidential election ballot in Virginia.

The lawsuit, filed by Matthan Wilson and Bryan Wright, alleges that West fails to meet the minimum candidacy requirements to appear on the ballot for the November 3 general election. West will appear on the ballot as an Independent candidate, and his running mate is listed as Michelle Tidball, a personal life and spiritual coach.

In late August, the Virginia Department of Elections confirmed that West qualified to appear on the Commonwealth's ballot. According to the VDOE website, in order to appear on Virginia’s ballot as an Independent, candidates must gather petition signatures from 5,000 qualified Virginia voters and receive a pledge and notarized oath from 13 electors.

According to the lawsuit, the VDOE's "decision to qualify West as a candidate was based on Elector Oaths that were obtained by fraudulent means and/or rife with violations of Virginia law and other disqualifying errors." It argues that at least 11 of the 13 Elector Oaths West submitted are invalid.

The lawsuit says that Wilson and Wright have obtained evidence suggesting that at least three of the Elector Oaths were obtained under false pretenses and goes on to say that "news reports indicate that number is even greater."

In each case, the elector reportedly submitted an affidavit saying that they do not support West’s candidacy; they have not committed to voting for him; and they were "misled" into signing the Elector Oath because "the person who convinced them to sign either withheld information about what they were signing, or led them to believe that the Elector Oath had a different purpose."

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring filed a response on Wednesday, calling on the court system to sort out the issue as quickly as possible. Absentee voting is scheduled to begin in Virginia in a little over two weeks and ballots need to be printed.

A court hearing has been set for Thursday at 2:30 pm.

News 3 spoke with an elector named Courtney Brown. She said she was approached about signing election forms outside of a grocery store in Charlottesville. "I'm 100% sure his name was not mentioned," she said. "I do think it was very misleading, especially if I'm not the only one."

Still even if West's name appears on the ballot, a political analyst doesn't expect him to have a big impact. "I don't know if Kanye West has a message that resonates with the large public or a significant amount of voters that would vote for him as opposed to the two major party candidate," said Dr. Eric Claville, the Director of the Center for African American Public Policy at Norfolk State University.

News 3 was unable to reach the West campaign. A Department of Elections spokesperson said they don't comment on pending litigation.

Click here to read the full lawsuit.