PHOENIX - A judge has barred Kanye West from appearing on the Nov. 3 ballot in Arizona, concluding that a voter who challenged his candidacy had shown he would probably prevail and had established the possibility of an irreparable harm if the rapper’s name were to appear on the ballot.
On Sept. 1, FOX 10 reported on a lawsuit that aims to keep West off the ballot in Arizona. The lawsuit states that West, along with 10 of the 11 presidential electors he chose to represent him in Arizona, are members of the Republican Party, and not Independents. The plaintiff, identified as Rasean Clayton, claims that under Arizona law, only electors who are not a registered member of any political parties recognized by Arizona can run as Independents.
The ruling on Sept. 3 by Judge Scott McCoy said that the voter who challenged West’s bid in Arizona “established that the relative hardships favor him.” Putting West on the ballot would create confusion for voters, his lawyers argued.
The decision came a day after West’s campaign turned in nearly 58,000 nominating signatures, well over the 39,000 needed to appear on the Arizona ballot. Over the last 10 days, more than 120 people living in other states have registered in Arizona as paid signature gatherers for West, who announced his presidential campaign on July 4.
In addition, the lawsuit claims West has not filed a statement of interest with the Secretary of State, which the lawsuit claims is required before nomination petition signatures can be collected.
In response, West, according to court documents, argued that state law bans the nomination only of members of the state's Democratic, Libertarian or Republican Parties, and notes that he is registered with the Federal Elections Commission as a member of a party called "The Birthday Party." Also, West claims that the office of President is exempt from statement of interest requirements. West’s lawyers said their client’s status as a registered Republican in Wyoming was irrelevant to getting on the Arizona ballot.
Despite those claims, plaintiff Rasean Clayton’s attorneys said West remains a registered Republican. They also said nearly all of West’s electors — who would cast electoral college votes if he were to win — were Republicans until they changed registrations to independent on Monday and Tuesday.
It’s unclear whether Clayton has any connections to the Democratic Party. He said in a statement that he filed the legal challenge to West’s campaign because he didn’t want voters to be confused by seeing unqualified candidates on the ballot.
According to the ruling, the court finds that "the most sensible reading" of relevant state laws prohibits West's nomination, and also noted that the status of his presidential electors are problematic.
"The Court finds Plaintiffs have a significant probability of success on the merits," read a portion of the ruling.
West’s attorneys said they will appeal the ruling to the Arizona Supreme Court. Tim LaSota, an attorney representing West, had no immediate comment Thursday evening.
LaSota has brushed aside criticism that West is trying to be a spoiler aimed at hurting Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s chances in Arizona. He has said Clayton’s lawsuit was aimed at denying voters a choice.
Arizona faces a Sept. 8 deadline for printing ballots for Maricopa, Pima and six other counties. Ballots for the remaining counties must be produced by Sept. 9.
West has already qualified to appear on the ballot in several states, including Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Tennessee and Utah. He didn’t qualify in Ohio, Montana, West Virginia, Wisconsin and other states, though he has filed lawsuits challenging some of those decisions.
A judge in Virginia ordered West’s name removed from ballots in that state on Thursday, finding that the rapper failed to meet a requirement that 13 people pledge support for his campaign. The judge ruled 11 of the 13 “Elector Oaths” submitted by the West campaign were invalid, including some that were “obtained by improper, fraudulent and/or misleading means.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.