Don't Let Kanye West on the Ballot in Wisconsin—14 Seconds Late Is Still Late
Thanks to the arcane nonsense of the Electoral College, Kanye West could swing the whole election in states like Wisconsin.
Kanye West isn't running for president, he's "walking for president."
Those are his own words in response to a question about whether he was trying to hurt the Biden Harris campaign's chances and thus help Donald Trump secure reelection. Some have taken that phrasing as a confirmation that Kanye is running as an intentional "spoiler" candidate.
Another possibility is that Kanye is being encouraged to campaign by various people who don't care about his mental health—who want to use him for Donald Trump's benefit. He could be going with the flow and "walking for president" while Republican political operatives lead him where they want him to go. Maybe Kanye never took off his MAGA hat after all...
But if we want to give Kanye the benefit of the doubt, the most charitable interpretation would be that he's just taking a relaxed approach to his last-minute presidential campaign. If he knows he can't win, then maybe the whole campaign is something to do for fun—or out of a manic impulse.
That would explain how his team missed the deadline to get his name on the Wisconsin ballot by 14 seconds. It's not a real campaign at all, just a chance for him to raise his profile, talk to people, and get some of his ideas into the public consciousness.
Which would be fine if he was only campaigning in states like California and Wyoming—where there's no question who the winner will be. There also wouldn't be much of a risk if we lived in a sane country where the national leader was determined by the national popular vote.
If we lived in that kind of country, the coming presidential election would likely be determined by millions of votes. If we lived in that kind of country, we could safely roll our eyes about Kanye being Kanye and trust that he wouldn't be able to attract enough voters to sway the outcome. But we don't.
We live in a bizarre pseudo-democracy where the rules were set in the 1700s to place a class of middlemen between the citizens and the decision about who rules over them—and to favor states where more people were being enslaved. Now the role of electors has been fully dissolved, every person is officially counted as a full person—no more three-fifths rule—and yet only some voters really count.
The Arcane Nonsense of the Electoral College
In theory, an individual voter in Vermont has more than three times as much influence over the electoral college as a voter in Texas—which is already absurd. But, in practice, voters in both of those states don't count at all. Texas votes reliably for Republicans, and Vermont votes reliably for Democrats, so candidates have zero incentive to appeal to those voters whatsoever.
Only voters in a handful of toss-up states actually matter. It's a pointless and confusing system that a majority of Americans want to replace with a national popular vote. But the Electoral College has stuck around—just like gerrymandered districts and voter suppression—because it keeps getting Republican elected even as their base of voters shrinks.
Why The Electoral College Ruins Democracy | Adam Ruins Everythingwww.youtube.com
Candidates don't have to be broadly popular as long as they can thread the weird needle of "swing states." In 2016—despite a national popular vote that went for Hillary Clinton by nearly three million votes—the election was determined in favor of Donald Trump by fewer than 78,000 voters spread across Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
Less than one percent of the voters in those three states determined the outcome of an election in which nearly 139 million people took part. Around 0.056% of the vote total made the difference between President Clinton and President Trump—a difference that has now contributed to the deaths of tens of thousands as a result of COVID-19.
The effect of this arcane nonsense is that presidential candidates tend to focus their campaigns on drumming up support in just a few states where margins are often razor thin—places where a third-party candidate like Kanye would only have to sway a tiny portion of the population to potentially change the whole outcome. He's already won over Nick Cannon.
If, on the other hand, an outsider candidate like Kanye West only wanted to rack up a lot of votes—to boost his profile without really interfering with the process—he could easily ignore those states and appeal to the neglected voters in the rest of the country. Many of those voters know that they don't really count and would gladly throw their support behind a symbolic or half-joking candidate "walking for president." But that's not what Kanye West is doing.
Following a team-up with Let the Voters Decide—whose executive, Mark Jacoby, was arrested for voter fraud as a Republican operative in 2008—Kanye West's team reportedly gathered the requisite 2,000 signatures for their ballot petition and delivered them at 14 seconds past the 5:00 deadline. But rather than chalking up Wisconsin as just another state where he missed the ballot deadline—there are at least 15 such at this point—his campaign team is pushing to have his name allowed on.
Now there is a debate about whether it matters that the clock hadn't turned to 5:01 yet, and there remains a significant question as to whether a significant percentage of those signatures may turn out to be invalid—as was the case in New Jersey and Illinois, where there's even the possibility that Kanye could face jail time for electoral fraud.
A bipartisan review board is now looking into the case in Wisconsin. But even if all the signatures are 100% legit, Kanye West should not be allowed on the ballot in Wisconsin.
If he has dedicated voters in Wisconsin, they should have to make the extra step of writing his name in—Kanye has even said that he could beat Joe Biden with write-in votes alone. Because, while the Trump allies propping up Kanye's campaign are likely wrong to think he will make a real difference, hurting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris's election bid remains the only thing the whole operation can do. It can't possibly hurt Trump.
So if Kanye wants to play a game with one of the most important elections in history—play with American lives by siphoning votes in key states where a handful of voters could determine the entire outcome—then he should have to play by the strictest interpretation of the rules.
Whether he's actively trying to get Donald Trump reelected, or just taking a relaxed approach to the whole process (while Republican operatives try to use him to get Donald Trump reelected), 14 seconds over the deadline is still over the deadline. And in our country's incredibly stupid electoral system, razor-thin margins like that make all the difference.