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Kanye West will appear on Iowa ballots after state panel rejects challenges

In this Sunday, July 19, 2020, file photo, Kanye West makes his first presidential campaign appearance, in North Charles
In this Sunday, July 19, 2020, file photo, Kanye West makes his first presidential campaign appearance, in North Charleston, S.C. West has qualified to appear on Iowa ballots this fall as an independent presidential candidate. (Lauren Petracca Ipetracca/The Post And Courier via AP, File)

DES MOINES — Rapper Kanye West will appear on Iowa ballots this fall as a presidential candidate after his campaign’s nominating petition survived a pair of legal challenges heard Monday by a state panel.

The challenges to West’s nomination were unanimously rejected by the State Objection Panel, which consists of Republican Secretary of State Paul Pate, Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller, and Democratic Auditor Rob Sand.

West made an 11th-hour run at getting on the ballot in a number of states, including Iowa. He has qualified in at least 10 states, including Iowa, and his campaign is challenging rejections by three more states, including Wisconsin and Ohio, according to reporting from Ben Jacobs, who has covered West’s efforts for New York Magazine.

Critics have contended that West, who is a registered Republican in his home state of Wyoming, is attempting to get on states’ ballots only in an attempt to siphon votes away from Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and help Republican incumbent President Donald Trump.

The Iowa panel rejected challenges that questioned a small number of petition signatures and on the grounds that West did not declare his party affiliation.

The first challenge was rejected because even had all of the signatures been deemed invalid — and not all were — West still would have had more than enough to qualify.

The second challenge was rejected because Iowa law requires general election candidates to note if a political party or other organization nominated them. It does not require candidates to note their party affiliation. West was not nominated by a party or other organization, so he was correct in declaring himself unaffiliated, the panel determined. The challenge, the panel noted, focused on state law that guides partisan primary elections, not general elections.

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“I can appreciate the nature of the objection both in the legal sense and also in the ethical sense,” Sand said during Monday’s hearing. “While I can appreciate the nature of the objections, I think our job here, our legal standard here is to resolve them in favor of ballot access.”

Sand also issued a statement after the hearing.

“I voted to dismiss the objections to Kanye’s candidacy because in my view of the law he had legally qualified for the ballot,” Sand said in the statement. “While some people may think his candidacy is not a serious one and is for the sole purpose of hurting former Vice President Joe Biden’s chances in November, politics is not a part of this question. This was an official action, in my official office. The law rules and I’m glad the outcome was determined by law rather than partisanship.”

Miller said the panel has, historically, erred on the side of ballot access.

“People that have followed this panel know the panel very much tries to err on the side of allowing people to be on the ballot for important policy and constitutional reasons,” he said. “We want people to be able to run and we want voters to be able to choose from a large group (of candidates). That’s been the spirit and emphasis that we’ve operated under for a while.”

The signature challenge was brought by Becky Miller, of Waterloo, and the political affiliation challenge by Brad Schroeder, an attorney from Des Moines.

West’s campaign was represented by Des Moines attorney Nick Mauro, the son of Democratic former Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro.

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