What would it take for Kanye West to get on the ballot in Pennsylvania?

A 2018 court settlement lowered the bar for independent and minor-party candidates

  • Benjamin Pontz/PA Post

Evan Vucci / AP Photo

Rapper Kanye West smiles as he listens to a question from a reporter during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House with President Donald Trump, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Musician Kanye West tweeted Saturday night that he intends to run for president in 2020. He has not formed a campaign committee, filed the necessary paperwork with the Federal Election Commission, or, for that matter, done anything since Saturday to indicate he will follow through on the announcement.

But, just hypothetically, what would it take for him to get on the ballot in Pennsylvania?

Thanks to a relatively recent court settlement, not as much as it used to.

After six years of litigation, Pennsylvania’s minor parties — the Libertarian, Constitution, and Green parties — reached a settlement with the Department of State in 2018 to lower the threshold for ballot access to 5,000 signatures for presidential candidates and 2,500 signatures for all other statewide offices (except governor and U.S. senator, which would require 5,000, but are not on the ballot this year).

Previously, third party and independent candidates needed to get enough signatures to amount to two percent of the statewide electorate, a number that often reached into the tens of thousands. That was a barrier to candidates from outside the two major parties.

“If I’m not spending months on end trying to fight to get on the ballot, well then we can spend all of our time campaigning and talking about the ideas with voters and debating with each other, so that the election is actually what it’s supposed to be,” Dale Karns, the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate in 2018, told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Before the 2018 settlement, a federal judge ruled in 2015 that the Commonwealth’s ballot access requirements violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution by placing an unequal burden on non-major party candidates. The court then imposed interim guidelines that, in some cases, required signatures to come from multiple Pennsylvania counties. Under the settlement the parties reached in 2018, however, no such county-based requirements exist.

For presidential candidates, the candidate must also name 20 electors (as well as their occupations and place of residency) at the time their petition is filed.

The deadline to submit paperwork for the 2020 general election is August 3. The filing fee is $200.

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Up Next
Politics & Policy

Pennsylvania Housing Assistance programs are now accepting applications