RICHMOND — Rapper and entrepreneur Kanye West has appealed to the Virginia Supreme Court a Richmond Circuit judge’s ruling barring him from Virginia’s presidential ballot.
Richmond Circuit Judge Joi Taylor on Thursday found that 11 of the elector oaths West submitted “were obtained by improper, fraudulent or misleading means” or are otherwise invalid because of notary violations and misconduct.
The judge found West’s Aug. 28 certification invalid and ordered state elections officials not to permit West’s name to be printed on elections ballots.
West’s lawyers allege that the judge erred. For instance, they assert that the plaintiffs — two Suffolk residents who said they did not intend to sign up as electors for West — have no private right of action under the state’s election code.
“No parade of horribles need be imagined to see why the Code does not vest elections authority in private citizens; the parade of horribles is this case,” write West’s new lawyers in the case, E. Mark Braden and Trevor M. Stanley of the Washington firm Baker & Hostetler.
They also accuse the court of a rush to judgment for refusing to delay the proceedings through the Labor Day weekend and for ruling in the case less than 48 hours after Democratic lawyers filed the complaint on behalf of the plaintiffs.
“Mr. West was left with no witnesses in a highly unfair and kangaroo-court-like proceeding based on facts that are highly unlikely to be proven true and legal theories with only the thinnest precedential support.”
As a result, his lawyers assert, unless the Supreme Court intervenes, “a candidate showing the support of more than 5,000 Virginia qualified voters will be kicked off the ballot, all because two voters apparently prefer a different candidate. That is simply not fair, and nothing in the Code allows it.”
West, a former supporter of President Donald Trump, has denied that he is a Republican plant meant to divert support from Democrat Joe Biden.
The office of Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, notes that West’s two new lawyers in the case have long ties to the GOP.
Braden spent a decade as chief counsel to the Republican National Committee. Stanley has represented Virginia Republicans on issues such as certification of closely decided 2017 elections for the House of Delegates.
West’s lawyers are asking for an expedited resolution because elections officials must mail absentee ballots by Sept. 18 and in-person absentee voting begins the next day.
State elections officials say there is unprecedented demand for mail-in ballots in Virginia amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
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