Kanye West withdraws petition to get on New Jersey's 2020 ballot

Rapper Kanye West on Monday withdrew his petition to appear as a presidential candidate on New Jersey's ballot, calling into question the seriousness of West's bid for the White House.

Petition submitted by West contained numerous signatures which appeared nearly identical

Kanye West at his first presidential campaign appearance, July 19, 2020 in North Charleston, South Carolina. On Monday, the rapper filed signatures to appear on the Arkansas presidential ballot. (Lauren Petracca Ipetracca/The Post And Courier/The Associated Press)

Kanye West withdrew his petition to appear as a presidential candidate on New Jersey's ballot, according to an email chain between a judge and what appears to be the rapper's campaign email address.

In email correspondence obtained by The Associated Press, an unidentified person writing from a Kanye 2020 address tells Administrative Law Judge Gail Cookson that West is dropping his effort to appear on New Jersey's ballot. 

"At this time, Kanye 2020 has no further option than to regrettably withdraw from New Jersey and cease further efforts to place Mr. West's name on the New Jersey ballot," the Kanye 2020 email said late Monday. 

Cookson replied Tuesday, accepting the withdrawal. 

"I will consider this email as a request for a withdrawal of your petition to be placed in nomination for the President of the United States in the State of New Jersey," Cookson wrote. 

Election law attorney Scott Salmon objected to West's petition last month, arguing that it failed to pass legal muster because signatures were incomplete and in some cases appeared written in very similar handwriting. 

Salmon, who is a registered Democrat but brought the complaint on his own behalf, reacted positively to the news that West had withdrawn.

"I am glad that the Kanye campaign has realized that their petition was so deficient that it wasn't even worth defending," Salmon said in a phone interview. "It sort of highlights the fact that it shouldn't have been submitted in the first place."

The New Jersey petition showed a number of signatures looked nearly identical, including lower-case i's dotted with a small circle. Some signatures lacked complete addresses. 

This frame grab made July 29, 2020, of a New Jersey Division of Elections nominating petition shows signatures submitted by Kanye West to appear on New Jersey's ballot as a presidential candidate. Election law attorney Scott Salmon says says he counted more than 600 that were in some way defective. (Scott Salmon/The Associated Press)

Questions about why West withdrew and whether the campaign disputed Salmon's objection were sent to the Kanye 2020 email address. 

New Jersey is a reliably Democratic state in presidential elections, siding with the Democrat since 1988. 

Seriousness of West's campaign unclear

On Monday, he filed 1,723 signatures to appear on the Arkansas ballot. a solidly Republican state that Trump won easily in 2016. Still, the status of West's presidential campaign and whether he is truly seeking the White House remains unclear

He has also filed in Oklahoma, Illinois, Missouri and South Carolina, though South Carolina officials later said West had missed their deadline.

He has missed the deadline for filing in numerous other states, including Florida, Texas, New Mexico, Indiana and Nevada.

West's wife, reality TV star and beauty mogul Kim Kardashian West, asked the public on social media last month to show compassion and empathy toward her husband as he has bipolar disorder.

Last month in South Carolina, Kanye West delivered an unconventional campaign introduction speech during which he proposed a $1 million payout to mothers and decried Harriet Tubman for her work on the Underground Railroad.

The Kanye 2020 website invites visitors to sign a petition so he can appear on the South Carolina ballot and uses a shorthand name that West uses as his Twitter handle as a slogan: "Ye for President."