Kanye West Won’t Be on the Wisconsin Ballot Due to Seconds

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Independent candidate Kanye West won’t be allowed on the Wisconsin ballot for the presidential election, the Wisconsin Election Commission ruled Aug. 20. The lawyer submitting West’s nomination papers entered the door to the commission building 14 seconds after the 5 p.m. deadline, according to a report prepared by Election Commission Staff. It took her longer to get to the floor that houses the Commission.

Read the agenda with complaint materials and Commission analysis here.

The vote was 5-1 to not allow West on the ballot, according to CNN, which reported that the Commission consists of three Republicans and three Democrats. Commission staff determined that West’s nomination papers were filed late. West’s attorney argued that he had until 5:01 p.m. to get them in, an argument the commissioners rejected.

“Five o’clock is five o’clock,” Republican Commissioner Dean Knudson said, according to CNN. “Maybe I’m just common sense and not a lawyer.” Robert Spindell, who voted to allow West on the ballot, insisted, according to NBC Chicago, “I don’t think they were late. They met requirements by being there before 5:00:59. I do not think they were late. We’re talking a matter of seconds here.”

However, Commission staff had written, “In Commission staff’s opinion, the arguments presented for reading Wis. Stat. § 8.20(8)(am) to mean that a filer of nomination papers really has until 5:01 to submit their nomination papers are unpersuasive, not backed by any cited caselaw, and the Commission and its predecessor agencies have never interpreted the statute to allow filing beyond 5:00 p.m.”

Wisconsin Election Commission

The decision could matter in a hotly contest battleground state election. There were questions about the timeliness of West’s nomination papers from the start because a local television station and, as it turned out another man with a cell phone, were staked outside the Commission building in Madison. Lane Ruhland, identified by Vice as a GOP-connected Wisconsin election lawyer, was the person who carried the West papers through the door.


Local TV Said From the Start That Ruhland Entered the Door After 5 p.m.

Bob Palmer a photographer for a Milwaukee TV station, wrote with video he shared of Ruhland on Twitter, “The timecode on my camera is one minute 2 seconds off the time on my phone. The Kanye representitive (sic) then hit the doorway at 5:00:18.”

Matt Smith, a reporter with WISN-TV, also reported that Ruhland walked through the door after 5 p.m.

The Commission heard Joseph R. Santeler’s Complaint against West. “This complaint alleges that all nomination papers filed by Candidate West failed to state his residence, Candidate West failed to file his nomination papers timely with the Commission, and the circulators of 24 pages of Candidate West’s nomination papers failed to state their full residence address.”

Santeler also argued that West did not list his “residence and post-office address” as required by statute when he listed an address on Big Horn Ave., in Cody, Wyoming, on his nomination papers. “The complainant alleges that 3202 Big Horn Ave in Cody, WY is zoned as a commercial property,” the documents say.

According to Election Commission documents, “Specifically, in response to Mr. Santeler’s complaint, the respondent argues that the evidence presented regarding the proposition that the nomination paperwork was filed late is hearsay and therefore insufficient.”

Wisconsin statutes hold that nomination papers for independent candidates for president and vice president “may be filed not later than 5 p.m. on the first Tuesday in August preceding a presidential election.” Wis. Admin. Code § 2.05(2) states: “In order to be timely filed, all nomination papers shall be in the physical possession of the filing officer by the statutory deadline.”

To support the allegation that West didn’t file his papers on time, the Commission received a sworn affidavit from a man named Devin Remiker who recorded an iPhone video on Aug. 4 right outside the Commission building. “Mr. Remiker indicated that due to the closeness of the approaching 5:00 p.m. deadline, he felt it important to record what he was witnessing,” the report says.

Mr. Remiker’s affidavit states that while he waited outside of the WEC building, at approximately 4:55 p.m., a car approached and parked on the street in the front of the building, where a woman got out of the car and approached the building, where she approached the door and then returned to her vehicle. The affidavit states that the woman remained in her car until after 5:00 p.m., and states that he knows this to be true as he brought his Apple Watch into the frame of the video to show that she was still in the car a 5:00 p.m. The affidavit notes that this occurred at the 3:00 minute mark, and at the 3:03 mark on the video, a TV station cameraman (WISN) says ‘it is 5 o’clock.’ The affidavit states that at least several seconds after 5:00 p.m., the woman exited the car and walked into the building. A second woman exited the driver’s side of the car carrying papers in a folder and entered the building after the first woman. The affidavit states that after the women entered the building, he stopped recording, but stated that the women appearing to go into an elevator as they had crossed the lobby and gone down a short hallway to the elevators. Mr. Remiker believed the two women he observed and recorded were the individuals that submitted the nomination papers in question.

In response, West presented an affidavit from Lane Ruhland, the attorney who submitted the papers.

On Aug. 4, the Wisconsin Election Commission reported that “five independent candidates filed signatures and paperwork today with the Wisconsin Elections Commission to get their names on the ballot for President of the United States in the state for the November 3 General Election.”

Those candidates were listed as:

Jo Jorgensen (Pres.) and Jeremy Spike Cohen (VP) – Libertarian Party
Howie Hawkins (Pres.) and Angela Walker (VP) – Green Party
Brian Carroll (Pres.) and Amar Patel (VP) – American Solidarity Party
Kanye West (Pres.) and Michelle Tidball (VP) – BDY (The Birthday Party) Independent
Kyle Kenley Kopitke (Pres.) and Taja Yvonne Iwanow (VP) – The Peoples Revolution

See West’s paperwork here.

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Jim Piwowarczyk

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