Lawsuit seeks to ban Kanye West from Arizona ballot

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FILE – This Nov. 17, 2019, file photo shows Kanye West on stage during a service at Lakewood Church in Houston. A law firm with ties to prominent Democrats has filed a lawsuit attempting to keep West off presidential ballots in Virginia. Attorneys for Perkins Coie filed a lawsuit in Richmond on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, on behalf of two people who say they were tricked into signing an “Elector Oath” backing West’s candidacy. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke, File)

PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona resident has asked a judge to bar Kanye West from appearing on the state’s Nov. 3 ballot, 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 on Wednesday 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 filed Monday that independent presidential candidates can appear on Arizona’s ballot if they aren’t registered with a recognized political party and gather enough voter signatures to nominate them. But Clayton’s lawyers say West, who paid top dollar to dozens of workers gathering petition signatures in Arizona, isn’t qualified to be on the ballot because he’s a registered Republican.

Even if West 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,” Clayton’s lawyers wrote. “West’s minimal interest in playing a spoiler candidate on Arizona’s ballot is not enough to outweigh the factors favoring 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.

Attorney 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.”

LaSota 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,” 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.”

Clayton’s attorneys said the lawsuit must be resolved quickly because the deadline for Arizona’s ballots to be printed is on Sept. 8 and 9.

In a statement, Clayton 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,” Clayton said.

It’s unclear if Clayton has any connections to the Arizona Democratic Party, which didn’t return a call Wednesday seeking comment.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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