Va. Supreme Court denies Kanye West’s appeal
Rapper remains disqualified as presidential candidate on state's ballots
The day before Virginia’s absentee ballots were set to begin being sent out, the Supreme Court of Virginia denied an appeal from Kanye West’s campaign, a last-ditch effort by the rapper, producer and presidential candidate to appear on this year’s general election ballots.
On Thursday, the court dismissed without prejudice West’s appeal to the Richmond Circuit Court’s decision to disqualify him as a presidential candidate after two Suffolk County residents sued the Virginia Board of Elections on Sept. 1. They claimed that they were tricked into signing documents to become Virginia electors for West, an independent candidate who is widely considered a spoiler for President Donald Trump, although West has denied the claim.
The ruling says the Supreme Court of Virginia found it does not have jurisdiction over the case and that it was not “appropriate under the circumstances” to change the lower court’s temporary injunction, which disqualified West as a presidential candidate on this year’s Virginia ballots. The court also denied the appellants’ motion for a stay pending appeal, an administrative stay, a vacating summary or reversal as moot.
Plaintiffs Matthan Wilson and Bryan Wright were granted a temporary injunction by the circuit court Sept. 3, when Richmond Circuit Judge Joi J. Taylor ruled that 11 of 13 elector oaths submitted by West’s campaign in August were “obtained by improper, fraudulent and/or misleading means” or are invalid because of a notary’s “violations and misconduct.” Wilson and Wright said they didn’t know they would be expected to vote for West in the Electoral College and that they did not support his candidacy.
Taylor, in her ruling, also directed the elections board to “take all necessary measures … to provide notice to voters of Kanye West’s disqualification,” in the case of ballots already printed before the ruling. As for ballots that had not been printed, the board was prohibited from including West’s name.
Attorney General Mark Herring filed a brief Wednesday to the Supreme Court of Virginia arguing that “appellants are simply too late and the petition for appeal should be denied,” adding that all 133 localities have started producing ballots and are expected to begin sending batches by mail Sept. 18. Earlier in the week, Gov. Ralph Northam said there was a record-breaking number of requests for mailed absentee ballots — 790,000 statewide, as of Tuesday — due to the pandemic.
“I’m pleased the Supreme Court of Virginia agreed with me today and denied Kanye West’s appeal,” Herring said in a statement. “This case could have thrown the election into chaos, drastically changing the ballot and potentially disenfranchising tens of thousands of Virginians during an election that has brought challenges like none we have ever dealt with before. Today’s ruling will keep things on track and help to ensure that every single vote is counted in November.”