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Kanye West Is Trying Hard to Get on Arizona’s Presidential Ballot This Fall

Would you vote for Ye?
Would you vote for Ye? Jason Persse/CC BY-SA 2.0/Flickr
The race is on to get Kanye West on Arizona’s presidential ballot this fall, and those behind the effort are reportedly spending some big money to make it happen in less than a week.

An army of paid workers have been gathering signatures to qualify the hip-hop star as an independent candidate for president for November’s general election. Any registered voter in Arizona can sign but the clock is ticking.

According to the Arizona Secretary of State’s office, which oversees elections, a total of 39,039 verified signatures are required for West to make the ballot and must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Friday, September 4. (The figure is 3 percent of Arizona voters not registered as either a Democrat or Republican).

A search of the Secretary of State’s website shows that more than 70 people have been hired to gather signatures for West by National Ballot Access, a petition-circulating company based in Georgia.

Workers are reportedly earning $8 for each signature. They’ve been doing so since at least August 20 when Andrew Chavez, the owner of a local signature-gathering company Petition Partners, posted an image of Ye’s petitions on Twitter.

If you do the math, more than $300,000 is being spent to make West an official presidential candidate in Arizona, which is widely considered to be a swing state in the 2020 election.

The drive to get West qualified for the general election in Arizona under the wire is one of several similarly last-ditch attempts to do the same in states across the country. Since announcing his candidacy in July, Yeezy has been certified in nine states, including Oklahoma, Minnesota, Colorado, and Vermont.

Kanye hasn’t been as successful elsewhere, though, as he failed to make the ballot in Montana, New Jersey, Ohio, and Illinois. He’s still fighting to get certified in Wisconsin, where a campaign attorney failed to file signatures in time.

So who’s bankrolling West’s presidential aspirations? Political pundits have speculated that it's part of a Republican-backed effort to take votes away from Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden in November in states like Arizona where he’s running neck and neck with President Donald Trump. Currently, polls in Arizona have shown that Biden is maintaining a slight lead over his opponent.

West has previously supported Trump, making appearances at the White House with the president and being publicly photographed wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap.

A week after announcing his candidacy for 2020, West stated in an interview with Forbes he was renouncing his support and “taking the red hat off.”

Let the Voters Decide, a Florida signature-gathering company run by Republican political operative Mark Jacoby, is reportedly behind the drive in several states. According to the Arizona Mirror, the company “handed off” efforts to get Yeezy on the ballot in Arizona.

Will that happen? We’ll find out on Friday afternoon.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.