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Kanye West fails to submit petition signatures needed to get on SC presidential ballot

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Kanye West breaks down as he talks about abortion during his first presidential campaign appearance at the Exquis Event Center in North Charleston on Sunday, July 19, 2020. Lauren Petracca/Staff

COLUMBIA — Rapper Kanye West did not submit any of the 10,000 petition signatures needed to get on South Carolina's 2020 presidential ballot by Monday's noon deadline despite hosting a rally in the state the previous day.

The failure of West's last-minute petition drive means he will almost certainly not be able to mount a quixotic third-party campaign in the Palmetto State after recently getting on the ballot in Oklahoma, where a $35,000 filing fee is the only requirement.

By the time the deadline passed at noon, neither West nor any representative from his makeshift campaign had arrived to deliver the petition to the S.C. Election Commission, according to commission spokesman Chris Whitmire. No late registration will be allowed.

West's only remaining path in South Carolina would be to receive the presidential nomination of one of the 10 certified political parties in the state. He had previously announced he would be running as a candidate under the self-created "Birthday Party."

West had run ads on social media in South Carolina over the weekend asking voters to sign the petition and had dispatched people to locations around the Charleston area to try to collect signatures.

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But several of the petition locations West announced saw little activity Sunday before his unusual rally in North Charleston that featured a monologue on a range of topics, including how social media brainwashes people, the dangers of addiction to opioids and the lack of diversity on corporate boards.

At one point, West even took on Harriet Tubman, saying — to some jeers from the crowd — that the famous abolitionist "never actually freed the slaves, she just had the slaves go work for other white people."

One other independent presidential candidate did submit a petition. Charleston native Jade Simmons, a classical pianist and public speaker, sent in her petition via FedEx. But Whitmire said Simmons' petition had fewer than 1,500 signatures so it was rejected.

Certified political parties have until early September to confirm their presidential nominees to the state commission in order to get on the ballot, a process that typically occurs after the party conventions. 

Follow Jamie Lovegrove on Twitter @jslovegrove.

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