Kanye West’s campaign says he belongs on the ballot even if nomination papers were 14 seconds late

The campaign says he belongs on the presidential ballot in Wisconsin even if his campaign turned in his nomination signatures 14 seconds after the 5 p.m. deadline Aug. 4.

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The fate of Kanye West’s presidential campaign in Wisconsin may be coming down to a matter of crucial seconds.

West’s campaign is arguing he belongs on the presidential ballot in Wisconsin even if his campaign turned in his nomination signatures 14 seconds after the 5 p.m. deadline Aug. 4.

The 23-page document, filed Monday, says a state Elections Commission staffer told a West campaign aide that she turned in the nomination papers 14 seconds after the deadline. State law says the papers had to have been filed by “not later” than 5 p.m.

“The statutory provision does not distinguish between minutes and seconds,” lawyer Michael Curran of Spring Green said in the filing.

“For the average observer, arriving before 5:01 p.m. is arriving ‘not later’ than 5 p.m. The phrase ‘not later’ is particularly instructive in that it indicates the presumption that the seconds from 5:00:00 to 5:00:59 are inclusive to 5 p.m. As the statute states ‘5 p.m.,’ for something to be filed later than ‘5 p.m.’ it would have to be filed at 5:01 p.m.”

Beyond that, Curran argued that the nomination papers should count even if his campaign was late. He said West’s team was hindered by state election officials, who locked their agency’s door, and an “overly aggressive” media and Democratic operative.

“Even assuming filing was not timely to begin with, the Commission should find that the nomination paperwork was timely filed here due to the locking of the Commission’s doors as well as the interference of the media and a rival campaign,” Curran wrote.

Officials with the state Democratic Party declined to respond to West’s filing.

The filing was made in response to two challenges to West’s nomination papers. To make it onto the ballot, West needs to submit at least 2,000 valid signatures. His campaign turned in more than 2,400 to state regulators.

The state Democratic Party and a Milwaukee bank attorney say in their separate complaints that state regulators should block West from appearing on Wisconsin’s presidential ballot because his campaign was tardy submitting its signatures.

The challenges also suggest there are numerous problems with West’s nomination papers, including incorrect addresses for circulators and bogus signatures, such as “Mickey Mouse” and “Bernie Sanders.” The Democratic Party’s complaint included affidavits from six individuals who said they were duped into putting their names on West’s paperwork.

The complaints will be reviewed by Elections Commission staffers, who will make a recommendation on West’s nomination papers to the bipartisan board. The panel is made up of three Democrats and three Republicans.

Democrats are concerned a West candidacy could siphon votes from former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democrat who is set to face Republican President Donald Trump in November. One Wisconsin Republican source says the goal is for West to get 107,000 votes here, about what Libertarian Gary Johnson did in 2016.

But in the response to the two complaints, West’s team argues that the rapper-turned-politician has come under fire because of his race.

“People of color have long been marginalized in this country,” Curran wrote. “In seeking to remove Kanye West from the ballot and silence the voices of those who signed to place him, the Complainants are continuing this marginalization simply because Mr. West’s views and perspectives on issues do not conform with theirs and those of the Party they represent.”

In Wisconsin, Curran wrote, Democratic operatives have made “shameful threats against his supporters and an organized effort of harassment and intimidation.”

The attorney says the party even hired a private investigator to “spy” on those collecting signatures for West’s campaign.

“This spy was successful in sleuthing out nothing much in particular and instead is wasting this Commission’s time with verifiably false information,” Curran wrote.

As for the specific allegations made in the complaints, Curran included an affidavit for Lane Ruhland, who turned in the nomination papers for the West campaign. Ruhland, a Madison lawyer, is also an attorney for the Trump campaign in a Wisconsin lawsuit.

Ruhland said in her affidavit that she arrived at the building that houses the state Elections Commission before 5 p.m. She said she was hindered by the fact that the outside door to the building was locked, and a staffer had to open it for her and two others submitting the signatures.

Had the door not been locked, she said, she would have met the deadline.

Curran dismisses a video and tweet by a WISN-TV (Channel 12) reporter that Ruhland and her assistant entered the building 18 seconds after 5 p.m. Curran also challenged a video by a Democratic Party staffer that suggested they arrived about 20 seconds after the deadline.

That video, Curran said, used an iPhone clock to track Ruhland’s entrance. Curran said such clocks are notoriously faulty.

In her affidavit, Ruhland said that by the time she reached the third-floor offices of the state Elections Commission, she was informed by a staffer that she was 14 seconds late.

“The elections specialist did not show us a clock, timer or recording showing the time of 5:00:14, nor did the filings receive a time stamp,” Ruhland said in her affidavit.

Curran said the nomination papers should be counted even if Ruhland was a few seconds late. He cited the agency’s locked door and the alleged interference by the media and a Democratic Party staffer.

Video of the filing showed only a couple of reporters at the scene, neither of whom appeared to interfere those filing the petitions.

“It simply cannot be the rule that third parties can — either willingly or accidentally — be the direct cause for the delay that results in a candidate not being placed on the ballot,” Curran wrote.

On other issues, Curran said there was no proof that circulators duped people into signing the nomination papers for West. The attorney suggested that those named in the Democratic Party complaint were simply suffering from “buyer’s remorse.”

Curran also dismissed most of the other technical challenges as ”misguided and ill-informed,” including the claims that the nomination papers included obviously fake names, such as “Mickey Mouse” and “Bernie Sanders.” He said the complaint must prove these are fraudulent signatures.

“A complainant cannot simply raise an issue, with little or no evidence, and shift the burden to the candidate to prove validity—which is what Complainant attempts to do here,” Curran wrote. “As such, and purported challenges, with little or no supporting evidence, should be dismissed.”

Patrick Marley of the Journal Sentinel contributed to this report.

Read more at usatoday.com and jsonline.com.

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