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How Kanye West Is Trying to Get on the Ballot in South Carolina

Kanye West. Photo: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Kanye West is moving forward in an effort to gather the 10,000 signatures necessary to appear on the presidential ballot in South Carolina, only days after qualifying to run in Oklahoma.

According to a press release sent out by the rapper and obtained by Intelligencer, there are nine locations where petitions to put West on the ballot are available to be signed on Saturday and Sunday. West has until noon on Monday to submit the necessary signatures to get on the ballot in the Palmetto State. Early Saturday evening, West tweeted out most of the locations listed on the release as places where voters could sign petitions. The tweet did not include addresses. The campaign is also apparently advertising the push on Facebook.

Cedric Smalls, the owner of the Chucktown Bar & Grill — which was one of the nine venues listed by the West campaign — told Intelligencer that he had been approached by one of his radio sales representatives about the effort. “[She] explained to me that Kanye was trying to get X amount of signatures and asked me to be willing to allow my venue to be a place where citizens could come out to petition for him to be on the presidential ballot,” he said. “And being that I try to utilize my place for all individuals who want to market to the public, I said ‘why not.’”

Courtney Scipio, an employee at Inspired by Annette Events, said that she was approached by “someone from our local chamber [of commerce] who I guess was in talks with the campaign manager.” She said that people had been coming in “off and on” on Saturday to sign the petitions. Scipio was unsure whether she’d vote for West, “You’d never know.”

Cassandra Boswell, who said she was working with the West campaign team, told Intelligencer that she had heard about the effort from a friend. “We’ve been getting some locations and talking to some people who are like minded and really wanted to support and see change. They all wanted to offer their locations and doing what they can to help the campaign.” Boswell said that there were over “20 people” aiding in the effort. She also said she was not sure if she’d vote for West. “I might. I haven’t decided yet. As we’re working, I’m learning. “

However, at New Bethel Sounds of Praise, a church listed as another venue where petitions could be signed, the woman who answered the phone, who only identified herself as “Dee,” said there was no such effort taking place there. That wasn’t the only the sign of disorganization in the apparently rushed effort by the West team. Henry Ravenel, the head of the Southeastern Chamber of Commerce, was surprised that his name was listed on the original release sent out by the campaign advertising locations where petitions would be gathered. Confusing Intelligencer for a representative of West’s campaign, he said, “A call would be good prior to the email, I wanted it listed a certain way as an address. I’m the CEO of the chamber of commerce and this could be a conflict of interest.” (Ravenel Trucking was later listed in West’s tweet naming the locations. New Bethel Sounds of Praise was not.)

The signature-gathering followed a late-night tweet from West on Friday that included a link to a form where South Carolina voters could use Docusign to sign a petition to put the rapper on the ballot in the state. Although South Carolina allows digitalized signatures in some circumstances, it is unclear whether the format used online would be valid. (The West campaign did not respond to a request for comment about its work in the state.)

South Carolina has been a consistently Republican state in recent presidential elections. Donald Trump won it by a 55 to 41 percent margin in 2016 after Barack Obama twice lost the state by a margin of 10 percent. However, South Carolina features one of the most competitive congressional races in the country with freshman Democrat Joe Cunningham facing reelection in a conservative Charleston-based district and a potentially competitive Senate campaign where Democrat Jaime Harrison has been out-raising incumbent Lindsey Graham in a race considered “Likely Republican” by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

West’s South Carolina effort comes after he officially filed to be a presidential candidate in the state of Oklahoma, which only requires a $35,000 fee, and submitted a formal declaration of candidacy to the Federal Election Commission.

The rapper had tweeted on July 4 that he was planning to run for president and then started to organize an effort to get on the ballot in Florida, which required 132,781 valid signatures to be submitted by July 15, before pulling back. West has since missed the ballot deadline in the state of Michigan, which required him to submit 30,000 signatures by July 16. In addition to South Carolina, Illinois has a Monday deadline for independent candidates seeking to petition on the ballot. West, who grew up in the state, would need to submit 2,500 valid signatures by 5 p.m. local time to the Illinois secretary of State.

This post has been updated.

How Kanye Is Trying to Get on the Ballot in South Carolina