An Arizona resident has asked a judge to bar Kanye West from appearing on the state’s ballot on November 3, accusing the hip hop artist of serving as an election spoiler and arguing that a law prohibits him from running in the state as an independent presidential candidate.
West’s lawyer has reported filing just under 58,000 signatures, well over the roughly 39,000 required for independent candidates to make the ballot.
Lawyers for resident Rasean Clayton said in a lawsuit that independent presidential candidates can appear on Arizona’s ballot if they are not registered with a recognised political party and gather enough voter signatures to nominate them.
The lawyers say West, who paid dozens of workers to gather petition signatures in Arizona, is not qualified to be on the ballot because he is a registered Republican.
West’s minimal interest in playing a spoiler candidate on Arizona’s ballot is not enough
Even if he is found to have submitted enough signatures, the lawsuit said the hip hop artist’s late-in-the-game candidacy would make no difference to his chances of winning the race.
“West will not be able to qualify for the ballot in enough states to muster enough electoral votes to prevail,” the lawyers wrote. “West’s minimal interest in playing a spoiler candidate on Arizona’s ballot is not enough to outweigh the factors favouring emergency relief.”
West has already qualified to appear on the ballot in several states, including Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Tennessee and Utah. The rapper and music producer announced his intention to run for president on July 4.
A Maricopa County judge is scheduled to hear arguments in the legal challenge on Thursday afternoon.
Tim LaSota, who represents West in the Arizona challenge, described the lawsuit as a “last-ditch effort on the eve of the (signature filing deadline) to deprive voters of a choice”.
He brushed aside criticism that West is trying to be a spoiler aimed at hurting Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s chances in Arizona. “That’s just political hyperbole,” Mr LaSota said.
“I don’t want to get into the politics of it. But obviously I think there is a lot to be achieved by someone else running for president.”
Mr Clayton’s lawyers said the lawsuit must be resolved quickly because the deadline for Arizona’s ballots to be printed is on September 8 and 9.
In a statement, he described himself as a navy veteran who cares about the November election.
“I filed this case because I don’t want people to get confused voting on ballots that have disqualified people listed with everyone else who followed the law,” he said.
It is unclear if Mr Clayton has any connections to the Arizona Democratic Party.