Judge removes Kanye West from Virginia’s ballot amid fraud allegations

Rapper Kanye West, second left, stands up as he speaks during a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval office of the White House on October 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Oliver Contreras - Pool/Getty Images)

Rapper Kanye West’s brief time as a certified presidential candidate in Virginia came to an end Thursday when a Richmond judge ordered his name stricken from the ballot.

Richmond Circuit Court Judge Joi J. Taylor ruled in favor of two Virginia voters who claimed they were signed up to serve as West’s official electors without knowing it and had no intention of serving in that role.

To qualify for the ballot as an independent, West had to file more than 5,000 petition signatures from Virginia voters and 13 notarized oaths from people willing to cast their votes for him in the Electoral College.

The Virginia Department of Elections, which checks candidate’s paperwork for technical completeness but generally does not conduct in-depth investigations into the tactics used to compile that paperwork, had certified West’s candidacy late last week, just as local election officials were starting to finalize and print their ballots.

The legal challenge, filed Tuesday with the help of high-profile Democratic law firm Perkins Coie, sought to reverse that decision and block West from appearing on the ballot. The suit also claimed West’s electoral oaths were tainted by notarization irregularities.

In a two-page order, Taylor 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.”

West’s longshot operation was widely seen as a Republican-backed effort to sap votes from Democratic nominee Joe Biden. West has faced similar paperwork challenges elsewhere has been disqualified in several other states.

The judge ordered elections officials to prevent West’s name from being printed on ballots. Some localities had already printed ballots that included West’s name. If any localities are unable to correct their ballots in time for the start of absentee voting on Sept. 18, the judge ordered them to post notices stating West has been disqualified as a candidate.