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Federal judge strikes down Kanye West’s ballot challenge in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Rapper Kanye West lost his court challenge Monday to get on the general election ballot in West Virginia.

West sought a preliminary injunction after Secretary of State Mac Warner ruled he didn’t have enough valid signatures to get on the ballot as an independent candidate for president.

U.S. District Judge Irene Berger denied the injunction request in a Monday order.

West needed 7,144 valid signatures to get on the ballot. His campaign collected more than 14,000 but a required comparisons of signatures by county clerks left West 761 votes short of the total needed.

MORE reader Berger order here

West’s court challenge said West Virginia’s process of getting on the ballot was unfair and gave him no chance for an appeal to be heard concerning the invalidated sigantures. He also argued courts throughout the country have started to strike down “so-called signature-matching laws that do not provide sufficient procedural safeguards,”

Judge Berger said West may have had enough time to gather the valid signature he needed had not his campaign waited until the last day possible to turn in the information to the Secretar of State’s Office.

“Rather than submitting signatures early for review so that signatures could be supplemented as they were invalidated, the Plaintiff submitted all of his signatures on the absolute deadline for filing,” Berger wrote. “As such, the Plaintiff left himself without adequate time to remedy invalidation and submit additional signatures to cure the deficit.”

Berger also agreed with the arguments from the Secretary of State’s Office that allowing West on the ballot at this late date would harm the election process.

“Because of the enormous burden posed by requiring the Plaintiff and his running mate to be printed on the ballot at this late stage, the Court finds the harm that would be inflicted on the government and the public at large if the injunction were granted is greater than the harm that would be inflicted on Plaintiff if the preliminary injunction were denied,” Berger said.

Berger also denied West’s argument that Gov. Jim Justice’s ‘Stay at Home’ order hurt his chances to gather signatures.

“The Plaintiff did not even begin his campaign, however, until months after the Governor’s “Stay at Home Order” was lifted, and West Virginia does not impose an inperson signature requirement,” the order said. “Therefore, any alleged additional burdens imposed by the coronavirus pandemic and Governor Justice’s “Stay at Home Order,” and subsequent “Safer at Home Order,” are not grounds for granting the injunction in this case.”

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