Wisconsin is a swing state critical to President Donald Trump’s reelection fight and a place where he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016 by less than 30,000 votes. Some political observers saw West as a potential spoiler who could pull Black voters from Joe Biden in November, but a recent poll POLITICO/Morning Consult poll showed West getting a mere 2 percent support overall among registered voters and Black voters. So far, West has qualified to be on the ballot in Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Utah, and Vermont.
One elections commissioner in Wisconsin said it was ironic that Democrats “have spent billions of dollars” to make it easier for constituents to vote, but weren’t interested in making it easier for candidates to file, as well.
West, who only recently backed off his support for Trump — a president deeply unpopular with Black voters — is running as an independent candidate on the Birthday Party line and has drawn criticism for teaming up with Trump operatives. His Wisconsin election lawyer, Lane Ruhland, is a former general counsel for the state Republican Party who has also represented the Trump reelection campaign. Ruhland had West’s signatures in hand when she drove to the Election Commission offices, arriving a few seconds in the building after 5 p.m. and many seconds more in the election offices.
On Friday, West faces another uphill battle: his home state of Illinois.
Collecting — and challenging — the signatures needed to get on the ballot in the Land of Lincoln is traditional election-season warfare, unlike almost anywhere else in the nation, and West’s team seems unprepared. West’s petitions will come under scrutiny for turning in 1,200 valid signatures, far short of the 2,500 needed to get on the ballot in Illinois.
His representatives are scheduled to defend the validity of the signatures collected.
West has said he will rely on write-ins to make him competitive in states where his name is not printed on the ballot.