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The Clock’s Ticking for Kanye


— Kanye West tweeted over the weekend that he is running for president.

— He has already missed some state deadlines to file for president as an independent, and other deadlines loom.

Presidential filing deadlines loom

Rapper Kanye West tweeted the following over the weekend: “We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am running for president of the United States! #2020VISION” He also spoke with Forbes.

As best as we can tell, West has not taken any concrete steps toward running for president. He stressed that he has 30 days to decide because of filing deadlines, although he’s actually already missed a few.

West’s tweet prompted us to look at the various state filing deadlines to run for president as an independent. If West or someone else wanted to gear up and try to run a national campaign for president, could they?

The answer is, for the most part, yes, but the hour grows late.

Table 1 shows the filing deadlines for all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, to get on the ballot as an independent presidential candidate. We gathered this information through the Federal Election Commission, the Green Papers, Ballotpedia, Ballot Access News, and official state sources. These deadlines refer to the last day a candidate can file to actually be on the ballot; in some instances, there are later deadlines to be an official write-in candidate.

Just as a caveat, it is possible that some of these deadlines have changed because of the pandemic (some of those changes are reflected in our table). If you see a deadline we need to update, or if you’re curious about how we determined which filing deadline to include on our list when sources conflicted, please email us at [email protected].

As we did our research for Table 1, we had this thought: If Kanye actually goes through with this, he could use a good lawyer. The filing deadlines are sometimes hard to find and to understand.

Table 1: Independent filing deadlines for president by state

As the table makes clear, a few state deadlines have already passed. North Carolina and Texas are the two major ones and, overall, 69 electoral votes (out of 538) are in the handful of states where the deadline to get on the ballot has passed. That number will rise to 239 by the end of the month, and 435 by mid-August.

Some of these dates and requirements may be in flux. For instance, Constitution Party nominee Don Blankenship filed a lawsuit Tuesday against California that seeks relief from the state’s requirement that independent presidential candidates get nearly 200,000 signatures by Aug. 7 to appear on the ballot in the nation’s largest state. The California signature count is the highest we saw in our research, and some states just charge a fee in lieu of signatures.

Did we mention that Kanye could use a good lawyer if he runs for president? So too could anyone else who decides to take the plunge at this late point.

Crystal Ball interns Ella Berg, Ellie Bowen, Tommy Dannenfelser, Halinta Diallo, Tanmay Gupta, Micah Rucci, Eva Surovell, Krishan Patel, and Bennett Stillerman helped research this piece.