Kanye West is poised to be bounced from the Illinois presidential ballot, with a State Board of Elections review of signatures on his nominating petitions determining on Friday that West did not file the 2,500 valid names needed to qualify.
West’s last-minute entry into the White House race is seen as a bid to siphon Black votes from Joe Biden, who will become the Democratic nominee on Aug. 20.
West, an entertainer raised in Chicago, has been a booster of and close to President Donald Trump. Wearing his “MAGA” hat, West held court with Trump on Oct. 11, 2018, in the Oval Office, when he made a plea for clemency for Larry Hoover, the notorious Chicago Gangster Disciple kingpin locked up in a federal prison.
While Illinois is a solid Democrat state, West getting on the ballot in some key swing states could have an impact in a close contest. There have been multiple news reports about Republican operatives assisting his ballot access in other states.
The unofficial results of West’s Illinois petition scrub, concluded Friday, were disclosed by one of the parties who filed objections to West’s petitions: Sean Tenner, the 46th Ward Democratic committeeperson and president of KNI communications.
To qualify as an Independent, West needed 2,500 valid signatures. According to a state board report on the objections, given to Tenner, West filed 3,128 signatures, but 1,928 of those were found invalid.
An examination of West’s petitions by the Chicago Sun-Times revealed he used out-of-state people to circulate his petitions and many scrawled names were not legible. News reports said West used paid petition passers in other states; that appears to be the case in Illinois.
The Friday results of the petition review do not represent a final ruling by the state board. West is entitled to dispute the findings. A hearing reviewing the objections, and making a final decision on whether to knock him off the ballot, is still to come. A board spokesman said no date has been set.
Attorney Ed Mullen, who represented the Tenner group, said in a statement: “A federal court reduced the standard signature requirement from 25,000 to 2,500 because of the COVID pandemic, and West was unable to even surpass this dramatically lower threshold. West’s lack of valid petition signatures is a sign of a disorganized and not ready for prime-time campaign.”
Tenner said he was not acting on behalf of the Biden campaign.
Another objector, Reverend Mitchell Johnson, is a KNI consultant. He and Tenner are co-founders of the “Abolition Institute,” an organization dealing with modern-day and past slavery. Tenner said they decided to challenge West after he said at a South Carolina campaign rally that Harriet Tubman, the famous abolitionist, “never actually freed the slaves. She just had the slaves go work for other white people.”
Tenner said “insulting and lying about Harriet Tubman, one of America’s greatest abolitionists who frequently risked her life so others could be free, is simply unacceptable from a presidential candidate. We’ve had enough divisive rhetoric like that in the past four years.”
On Friday, West was officially off the New Jersey ballot, withdrawing after his petitions were challenged. West will not be on enough ballots to get 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House. His wife, Kim Kardashian West, said in recent weeks West, with a bipolar disorder, is struggling with mental issues.
Earlier this week, Trump was asked about West. “I like Kanye very much,” he said, adding: “No, I have nothing to do with him getting on the ballot. We’ll have to see what happens.”