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Rapper Kanye West is facing a challenge to his 2020 presidential campaign in Idaho.
A pair of voters in the state as well as the Idaho Democratic Party have filed a lawsuit to remove the name of the rap star and music producer from the presidential ballot there, claiming he is ineligible because of a problem with his party affiliation.
A lawsuit filed in Ada County district court on Friday asked the court to issue an injunction and an order that would remove West’s name from the ballot, the Idaho Press reported.
“This case is about upholding the integrity of our elections,” Carl Withroe, an attorney for one of the plaintiffs said in the complaint which claims that West, who has filed to run as an independent, is not eligible to be on the state’s ballot.
Idaho code apparently stipulates that independent presidential candidates have to certify that they “have no political party affiliation,” but the 43-year-old singer is a registered Republican in Wyoming, his home state.
“A candidate who is not eligible for the ballot appearing on some or all of the ballots Idaho voters will use this November will cause confusion, and that is not helpful. We are sensitive to the fact that deadlines for printing and mailing ballots are close. That’s why we asked the secretary to address it and why we’re seeking resolution as soon as possible,” Withroe said.
“It’s the first time a state Democratic Party has explicitly tried to boot West from the ballot,” reporter Ben Jacobs tweeted.
This Idaho lawsuit to remove Kanye West from the ballot in the state has the Idaho Democratic Party listed as plaintiff. It’s the first time a state Democratic Party has explicitly tried to boot West from the ballot. https://t.co/dgCp3wPIPO
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) September 11, 2020
The attorney reportedly requested the removal of West’s name from the ballot in a letter this week to Secretary of State Lawerence Denney, who told the Idaho Press’ Eye on Boise blog that the printing deadline for the ballots convinced him to leave them as is.
“So we’re not going to do anything,” Denney told Idaho Press. “With ballots already printed, there’s going to be a cost to replace those.”
The injunction requested that ballots with West’s name not be mailed out and that Denney should withdraw the list of names that were previously certified.
“The party has an interest in the integrity of Idaho elections,” the lawsuit reportedly read.
“It is concerned that a candidate on the ballot who is not eligible to be on the ballot will almost certainly cause confusion among voters for the office of president. … The Idaho Democratic Party is also concerned that votes for an ineligible candidate will dilute the voting power of Democratic voters, which will result in votes being effectively wasted, effectively disenfranchising voters,” it stated in a rather transparent admission of the underlying concern.
West will reportedly appear on the ballot in 11 other states besides Idaho after he has missed some deadlines and been disqualified for various filing errors in other states. Arizona successfully removed West from the ballot after a similar challenge as Idaho.
A letter from a Boise attorney representing West’s campaign was received by Denney on Friday. In it, a 2008 Idaho Supreme Court case was cited arguing that the Idaho Secretary of State did not have the authority to remove an independent candidate from the ballot who is a self-described independent.
“Mr. West timely filed the proper forms and was certified by your office,” Richard Stover wrote to Denney, according to Idaho Press. “More importantly, there is nothing in Idaho Code indicating that the Secretary of State has the inherent or implied power or duty to determine the truthfulness of the statements made in a declaration of candidacy as an independent candidate.”
“We’re going to let them sue,” Denney said of the Democrat lawsuit.
“The problem we have is that we do already have quite a few ballots printed,” he said. “I think we have a pretty good case of not taking him off. No. 1 is that Supreme Court case says I don’t have authority. Of course, that doesn’t mean they can’t change their mind.”
“We would hope things just go the way it is,” he said, “but if a court orders us to, we’ll do some reprinting, I guess.”
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