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Kanye West's 'independent' bid dropped from Az ballot: Rapper is registered Republican

A judge Thursday blocked rapper Kanye West from appearing as an independent presidential candidate on Arizona ballots because he's a registered Republican in Wyoming.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge M. Scott McCoy issued the ruling Thursday afternoon, less than two hours after an emergency hearing in a special action filed last week in a bid to keep West from playing a spoiler on the November ballot.

McCoy wrote in his ruling that West was unlikely to win his argument that Arizona's laws governing how independent candidates qualify for the ballot didn't bar him from running, despite his registration as a Republican, because he wasn't registered as a Republican in Arizona. The judge said the "most sensible" reading of the law was that it bars Republicans and Democrats from seeking office as an independent, even if they are registered in other states.

During the hearing, attorney Joshua Bendor argued that West's interpretation of the law — which explicitly prohibits members of major political parties from running as independent candidates — would lead to the "absurd result" of allowing anyone to launch a campaign as an independent.

The reality, he said, is that ballots declare candidates are merely "Republican" or "Democrat," not "Arizona Republican."

"A Republican candidate for president does not run under the banner of 50 different state parties. They run under the banner of the national Repbulican Party," Bendor said. "It's for independents, and that's not who he is, so he can't use it to get on the ballot."

McCoy also said the registration status of West's 11 presidential electors is "problematic" under the law. Ten of them were registered as Republicans when they agreed to be electors, though they had all re-registered as independents on Wednesday, several days after the lawsuit was filed challenging their eligibility.

In his ruling, McCoy said there would be "irreparable harm" done to voters if West's name appears on the ballot. Many counties — including Maricopa and Pima, home to about 70% of Arizona voters — must print ballots by Sept. 8.

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The judge rejected arguments from West's attorney, Timothy Berg, that any harm done to West by keeping him off the ballot outweighed the harm done to Arizona voters if they were sent ballots with an ineligible candidate on them. Instead, McCoy sided with the plaintiffs, who said the court should prevent voter confusion.

"Once the printing deadline is hit, there's no going back," plaintiff's attorney Joseph Roth said in the hearing.

Roth also noted that West has no way to actually become president, even if he is allowed on the Arizona ballot, having missed the deadline or having been denied access to the ballot in 34 states and Washington, D.C.

"The harm is being on the ballot. In case after case, courts have affirmed ballot access restrictions… in part because of just this kind of late-stage chaos," Roth said.

West on Wednesday filed nearly 58,000 petition signatures to qualify for the ballot — and the campaign said it would submit some 30,000 more by the Friday deadline — far more than the 39,000 he needed.

Republican operatives have aided West's presidential West's campaign, including in Arizona, where he began collecting signatures two weeks ago. Democrats have accused Republicans of assisting West, formerly a high-profile supporter of President Donald Trump, in an attempt to siphon votes from Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

It's unclear who is funding West's campaign efforts across the country, which has ostensibly spent millions of dollars to qualify for state ballots — both for signatures and on litigation. In Arizona, West's campaign was reportedly paying $8 per signature. If that figure is correct, more than $460,000 was spent to get the rapper on the presidential ballot.

West is expected to appeal the ruling to the Arizona Supreme Court.

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.

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3 comments on this story

Sep 4, 2020, 5:59 pm
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Well, you party boys are pretty cute.  The citizens of Arizona passed an open primary initiative in 1998.  That resulted in one of the only bi-partisan efforts to ever take place in the state of Arizona.  State Attorney General Janet Napolitano proposed that if the Presidential Primary was moved to February, leaving a primary for state offices in August, then independent voters could be prevented from voting in the Presidential Primary because the Presidential Primary was not mentioned by name in the open primary initiative.  So the Republican state legislature moved the Presidential Primary to February, and Janet Napolitano decreed that independent voters could not vote in the Presidential Primary.  So now independent voters get to pay for two party primaries, one of which they cannot vote in.  Meanwhile, independent voters cannot run for office because you party boys have increased the nomination petition signature requirement to eight times the signature requirement for Democrats and Republicans.  Aside from these unconstitutional state election laws, we have watched the other dirty tricks you pull.  After Republicans elected Janet Napolitano governor in gratitude for her creative efforts with regard to independent voters, Republicans and Democrats noticed that independent voter registration was going exponential in Arizona.  So they passed a Senate bill to remove the option to register independent from the Arizona voter registration form with the following effect:

      2000-2002           107,715
      2002-2004           165,771
      2004-2006           26,384

Independent voters still passed Democrats in numbers in 2009 and Republicans in 2012. 
So what are we to conclude?
We conclude that President George Washington was correct in 1796 when he said that independent voters were created by the writing and adoption of the Constitution and are necessary in governments that hold elections, whereas, political parties are “self-created societies” that destroy free and open elections and take away the freedom of the people.  George Washington said that independent voters should not start or support political parties.  After 220 years, it is time we paid attention to what he said.  He said that political parties are incapable of providing good government in nations that hold elections.

Sep 4, 2020, 1:06 pm
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You are correct that there is no requirement in Arizona law for an independent candidate to be registered as an independent. That’s because there is no such thing as being a “registered independent” in Arizona.

Voters here who decline to register as members of a political party are “Party Not Designated” or “Non-Party Voters.”

West is a registered member of the Republican Party. Under Arizona law A.R.S. § 16-314, as the judge cited in his ruling — which is linked in the news report — candidates seeking to run for office without being nominated in a primary election cannot be registered members of political parties that are recognized in this state.

Sep 3, 2020, 6:50 pm
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In 1988, Bill Shulz, the Democratic Party frontrunner for governor of Arizona dropped out of the Primary election due to family issues.  Caroline Warner won the Democratic Primary, and Evan Meacham won the Republican Primary.  Bill Schulz did not believe Caroline Warner could defeat Evan Meacham in the general election, so he re-entered the race as an independent candidate, paid signature gatherers $6.50 per hour to get signatures, and appeared on the ballot as an independent candidate.  In the 1990’s Democratic Secretary of State Dick Mahoney obtained enough signatures to appear on the ballot as an independent candidate against Janet Napolitano and Matt Salmon.  There is no requirement in Arizona law for an independent candidate to be registered independent, never has been.  Independent voters are not a political party, and independent candidates are not party candidates.  Kanye West is being discriminated against.

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Kanye West in Chile, 2011