With the presidential election only weeks away, Kanye West has decided to make yet another attempt to throw his hat into the ring. After federal judges had repeatedly denied his last-minute attempts to join the ballot, the artist revealed his "Vote Kanye 2020" campaign merch just hours after the Oct. 7 vice presidential debate. And then late on the evening of Thursday, Oct. 8, Kanye West tweeted a photo of a mail-in ballot with his name listed as a write-in candidate on the bottom — and people all over the internet were furious about it.
West tweeted out the photo, which showed the ballot of an unknown voter, with West written in as an additional candidate. (He also appeared as a vice presidential option, under the American Independent party.) "Friends writing me in," he captioned it.
West first began flirting with the idea of running for office as early as 2015, when he announced on the MTV Video Music Awards that he would campaign for the 2020 presidency, birthing the now infamous #Kanye2020 hashtag. In 2016, when President Donald Trump was inaugurated into office, West revealed his voting preferences to his fans during a concert, stating "I told y'all I didn't vote, right? But if I would've voted, I would've voted for Trump." Since then, West has worked closely with the president on several occasions, even donning a MAGA hat from time to time.
In July 2020, he declared his intention to actually run for president, and has since taken action to appear on the ballot in 11 states. However, due to his closeness with Trump, some are concerned the campaign is an effort to siphon votes away from Trump's challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden, and particularly in areas where margins of victory may be slim. Back in 2016, Trump won certain swing states by only the narrowest of victories — in Michigan, for example, Trump won by just over 10,000 votes, or 0.2 of a percentage point. More than 250,000 Michigan voters chose a third-party candidate in that election. Trump has denied being involved with West's campaign, stating in an August White House press conference: "I like Kanye very much ... I have nothing to do with him being on the ballot." Representatives for West did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for comment on the tweet or political situation.
As of Oct. 4, West is polling at 1% in surveys conducted by Leger to gauge the voting intentions of the 2020 electorate. Although this percentage may seem inconsequential, in potential swing states where West appears on the ballot (such as Iowa, Colorado, and Ohio), this margin could indeed bleed enough votes from the Democratic party to tip the scales in Trump's favor. While some users are chalking West's actions up to plain old artistic narcissism, others are worried that his write-in campaign may do enough damage to swing the vote in favor of Trump by razor-thin margins in battleground states.
Experts say that the chances of this type of scenario occurring are slim to none. "Typically a write-in candidate has no real impact on a presidential election," Jessica Levinson, a political commentator and clinical professor of law at Loyola Law School, tells Elite Daily.
However, Levinson notes that "there is nothing typical about the 2020 presidential election. Kanye is not a typical candidate, he has far more notoriety and far less experience. In a hypothetical universe, there could be a razor thin margin in a swing state and Kanye could peel off enough votes from one of the major party candidates to make a difference."
Although this outcome is exactly what many Twitter users are concerned about, Levinson offers assurance: "This [scenario] is highly, highly unlikely."
So far, the 2020 election cycle has been a whirlwind of conflict where almost nothing has been certain — not even the upcoming presidential debate schedule. However, with seemingly everything hanging in the balance, one thing is true: Nov. 3 is only weeks away, and in hardly a month's time, America's leadership for the next four years will inevitably be decided.