The Elections Commission’s initial review of entertainer Kanye West’s nomination papers puts him above the signature threshold needed to qualify for Wisconsin’s presidential ballot.
But there is a deadline of 4:30 p.m. today to file challenges to his nomination papers, and the commission won’t determine whether West met all of the qualifications to be placed on the ballot until sometime after next week’s primary and before late August, an agency spokesman says.
The commission counted 2,422 signatures on West’s nomination papers, with 2,000 needed to qualify. Still, the agency begins its review of nomination papers with a presumption of validity for signatures.
WisPolitics.com’s review of West’s nomination papers found at least two people who listed their name as Kanye West, and the commission’s check wouldn’t look to strike potentially fake names. Instead, the agency requires a challenge to be upheld for such a signature to be stricken.
The WisPolitics.com review also found identical handwriting for different signers listed on the papers, among other issues that could be the subject of a challenge.
There are also questions over whether West’s campaign filed the nomination papers by Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline. Video WISN-TV reporter Matt Smith posted Tuesday shows the person who filed West’s papers walking into the building that houses the Election Commission just after the deadline.
Commission spokesman Reid Magney said the agency has “our own clocks that we go by.” He declined to provide the agency’s timeline on the filing, saying it would be included in the staff recommendation to the full commission, which ultimately will decide whether to certify West for the ballot.
He acknowledged litigation is likely over West’s nomination papers.
“They will have that information, and they can make a decision based on that,” Magney said.
West’s campaign has received help from Republicans in trying to qualify for the ballot in various states, according to national media. If approved for the Wisconsin ballot, some believe he could siphon votes away from presumptive Dem nominee Joe Biden in one of the key swing states this fall.
Following this afternoon’s deadline to file a challenge to West’s papers, his campaign would have until Monday afternoon to respond.
Dems have hinted a challenge is likely, and Milwaukee attorney Mike Maistelman, who has long been involved in cases before Wisconsin’s election officials, signaled the timing of West’s filing could prove problematic. He also questioned the help West has received from Republicans.
“The Wisconsin Supreme Court has for decades continuously held that filing deadlines are mandatory and not discretionary,” Maistelman wrote in an email. “The statute requires nomination papers to be filed by 5 pm, not 5:01 pm.”
Magney said agency staff will prepare a recommendation for the full commission on whether it believes West should be placed on the ballot. The commission hasn’t yet scheduled a meeting to review the commission’s coming recommendation.
Magney noted there is an Aug. 26 deadline for the commission to certify results from Tuesday’s primary. Also, county clerks have to deliver ballots for the November election to municipal clerks by Sept. 16 so they can be mailed the next day to those who have requested absentee ballots.
See the commission’s initial tally for all five candidates who filed to run for president as independents here.