A Virginia judge on Thursday ordered the state’s board of elections to remove rapper and aspiring politician Kanye West from November’s presidential ballot, finding that the West campaign engaged in fraud to secure the Elector Oaths required to qualify as a candidate.
The concise two-page ruling from Circuit Court Judge Joi J. Taylor of Richmond was issued just two days after two of the 13 electors who had allegedly pledged their support for West’s candidacy filed a lawsuit. That lawsuit alleged that members of West’s campaign lied about both the nature and implications of the forms they were signing.
In granting the plaintiffs’ request for an injunction blocking West from appearing on the ballot, the court found that “eleven of the Elector Oaths submitted by Kanye West were obtained by improper, fraudulent and/or misleading means, or are otherwise invalid because of notarial violations and misconduct, and, therefore, do not count toward the statutorily required minimum to qualify the petition.”
The plaintiffs in the case, Matthan Wilson and Bryan Wright, were represented in the action by Perkins Coie, a law firm with longstanding ties to the Democratic party. West, who has openly indicated that he aimed to damage the prospects of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, launched his campaign thanks to support from Republican party insiders such as presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Under Virginia law, in order to be certified by the Virginia State Board of Electors (VSBE), independent presidential candidates are required to obtain and submit notarized oaths from at least 13 electors pledging their support for the candidate. Those pledges must be submitted in addition to 5,000 signatures from qualified voters to ensure the candidate has some degree of support within the commonwealth. West’s candidacy in Virginia had been certified by the board last week.
According to the complaint, Wilson was approached earlier this month by a representative from the West campaign who asked him to sign to be an “elector for the state,” saying his name “would be entered into a pool to be individually picked to be part of the Electoral College.” He only learned that the document he signed pledged him to be an elector for the West campaign after being contacted by a news reporter.
“Kanye West’s name was never mentioned,” Wilson said in a signed affidavit submitted with the lawsuit.
Wright claimed a West campaign rep obtained his signature by saying he was only signing a petition to allow West on the ballot, not a pledge of support.
The “notarial violations” mentioned in Taylor’s were a reference to Bria Fitzgerald, who notarized eight of the 13 Elector Oaths. According to the complaint, Fitzgerald was paid by the campaign to act as its notary while also signing her own oath to be counted as one of the thirteen Electors supporting the campaign. Several of the Electors later stated that the oaths were not notarized in their presence, while Fitzgerald’s own oath was notarized by someone whose notary license was expired.
BREAKING: Kanye West removed from Virginia ballot. pic.twitter.com/U4bKDDR5Gk
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) September 3, 2020
[image via via cnn screengrab]
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