Kanye who? West makes the Minnesota ballot, but at least two electors unaware

By: - August 25, 2020 10:29 pm

Rapper Kanye West speaks during a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in the Oval office of the White House on October 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. Photo by Oliver Contreras/Getty Images.

Kanye West, the hip-hop star and fashion mogul whose wife has said that he is struggling with bipolar disorder, has cleared a major hurdle to getting on the November ballot for president in Minnesota.

The required 2,000 signatures and a slate of 20 electors were submitted to the secretary of state’s office last week, and the signatures have since been verified, according to Risikat Adesaogun, press secretary for the office.

But at least two of the 20 electors and alternates who would ostensibly carry his vote to the Electoral College should he prevail in Minnesota said they were none-the-wiser that they were named as his electors. The Reformer reached four West electors, and two were not aware of their potentially historic role.

“I’m a what?” said Kim Rendl, who is an alternate West elector, when contacted by the Reformer.

Asked if she remembered signing something saying she’d be an elector for West if selected, she replied: “No.”

“I didn’t sign up to be an elector on anything, no,” said Rendle, who lives in Wyoming, Chisago County.

Asked if she remembered signing any kind of petition to get West on the ballot, she said she didn’t.

“Maybe a petition but nothing else,” she said.

A person named Heidi Rendl, also of Wyoming, is listed as an elector, but could not be reached for comment.

Samuel Kuphal of Hamel is also listed as an elector, and his wife Lindsay Kuphal is listed as an alternate elector.

When reached by phone Tuesday, Kuphal said she didn’t know anything about it.

Electors must sign a form stating they agree to be one.

The same none-the-wiser elector problem cropped up in Virginia, where seven of the 13 electors didn’t know they were listed.

Verifying West for president signatures has been an issue in some other states, including Wisconsin.

Republican operatives have been trying to get West on the ballot in some battleground states, likely in hopes of siphoning young, Black and hip-hop aficionado votes from Democrat Joe Biden.

Minnesota Republican National Committeeman Max Rymer has cheered the effort on social media, if only in jest.

Near the recent Trump campaign rally in Mankato, a Minnesota Reformer reporter was approached by two young men gathering signatures to get West on the ballot. The road was lined with Trump supporters hoping for a glimpse of the president. When informed they were speaking to the Reformer, they scurried away, saying they didn’t want their photo taken.

DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin has called it an obvious Republican-fueled effort to get West on the ballot and said the party is “reviewing all available options for defending the integrity of our elections.”

Trump has badly wanted to win Minnesota since 2016, when Hillary Clinton barely squeaked out a victory by 44,000 votes. A recent poll has him trailing Biden by just 3 points.

Even a marginal showing by West could be important in the overall result. Trump only won about 3,000 more votes than Mitt Romney in 2012, even though Romney was beaten soundly by then-President Barack Obama. But Trump stayed close to Clinton in large part because so many Minnesotans chose minor party candidates.

And this time a famous rap star will likely be on the ballot.

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs. Before joining the staff of the Reformer in 2021 she was a contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. She and her husband have a daughter, son, and very grand child. In her spare time, she likes to play tennis, jog, garden and attempt to check out all the best restaurants in the metro area.