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Kanye 2020 vision campaign hat

Famous rapper Kanye West is running for US president, but...

West has qualified for ballot access in 12 states.
Kanye West 2020 presidential campaign

It appears theoretically impossible for him to become president via voting ("win" the election), and he has a realistic chance of getting no more than 1% of the vote in every state. However...

...the electoral college system admits the possibility of faithless electors who have the authority to ignore voting altogether. I'm interested in whether or not they could (theoretically) elect Kanye West, especially considering he's not even on the ballot in many states.

Question: Is it still theoretically possible for Kanye West to become the US president in 2021?

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    There are some state laws that describe how electors must vote, and how to punish them if they do otherwise, AFAIK such "wrong" votes are still valid. Does the question assume electors can break such laws, or do they need to follow them? – Peter Oct 24 at 13:15
  • Honestly, I was not aware. Maybe it's best to leave that up to the answerer's discretion---they're more able to make an informed decision than me. – Rebecca J. Stones Oct 24 at 13:28
  • Closely related to: politics.stackexchange.com/q/10829/19301 – divibisan Oct 24 at 15:42
  • My favourite answer in politics.stackexchange.com/questions/13094/… indicated that coming third in a race with no clear winner is sufficient. – Andrew Grimm Oct 24 at 21:19
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Realistically no. The mechanism exists, but given who would ultimately pick the president (described below), even the theoretical possibility is far-fetched for Kanye.

Theoretically as in is there a mechanism by which this could happen? Yes. The same is true even if he is not on the ballot anywhere.

The mechanism is three things happen:

  1. At least one elector votes for him. It would help if it was from a state that does not have a faithless elector law otherwise there could be a challenge. So we’ll keep it simple. (edit: or just win a state would work too. Credit comment by @DJClayworth)

  2. No one get 270 electors. So the vote is 269-268-1. He must be in the top three to qualify for step 3. So if it is 268-267-2-1 with someone else having the two, he is out.

  3. The House then votes for him. Specifically, the majority of the Representatives from 26 states vote for him since each state gets one vote.

Cite: Constitution of the United States, Amendment XII

The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote;

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  • Should the "realistically" in quotes be "theoretically"? – o.m. Oct 24 at 16:55
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    Since he is on the ballot in at least one state, it is theoretically possible that he could win in that state legitimately, without having to worry about faithless electors.Theoretically of course. – DJClayworth Oct 24 at 16:55
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    @DJClayworth True. It's also theoretically possible to win a state legitimately without being on the ballot, as many (most?) states allow write-in votes. Write-in votes don't win elections often, but it is possible and has happened for lower offices. – reirab Oct 25 at 7:16
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    I think the answer could be improved by avoiding the confusion about realistically / theoretically. Deleting everything after "realistically no." in the first paragraph would fix it. Right now it's contradictory: you have a "theoretically no" and a "theoretically yes". – JBentley Oct 26 at 10:14
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    @JBentley I think the second sentence just needs to be changed to "Theoretically, yes." The question is asking about theoretically, not realistically. And, as the rest of the answer shows, it is indeed theoretically possible. – reirab Oct 26 at 14:23
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Kayne's largest problem is he's not on enough state ballots to reach the necessary 270 electoral votes. 12/50 states means he can't win outright through normal means.

Ignoring the Electoral College chaos paths, the other option would be a write-in candidacy. West is pursuing this already

On Monday afternoon, West shared the video, which is a little longer than one minute, on Twitter to his nearly 40 million followers. In the video, he discusses how Americans should focus on strengthening their religion and faith to improve the country.

Later

The video ends with an “I am Kanye West and I approve this message” endorsement and text urging people to write him in on the ballot.

The Tweet they link in the article has been deleted, but West has tweeted other videos showing how to write his name on the ballot.

In general, write-in candidates have not fared well. And not all states allow them

  • Only 43 states allow write-in candidates, so that's access to 494 electoral votes.
  • In these states - Alabama, Delaware, Iowa, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and Wyoming, write-in candidates do not need to be registered; voter can virtually vote for anyone they like.

The way this path would pan out is

  1. West wins the 12 states he's on the ballot and the 3 where he had to register as a write-in. That gives him 100 electoral votes just with those (not counting the states where there's no registration requirement for write-ins)
  2. Enough people write his name in to give him a victory in states where he didn't qualify due to deadlines to register as a write-in
  3. West files a lawsuit (likely multiple lawsuits in multiple states) claiming that he is the legitimate winner despite the rules saying he is ineligible.
  4. State and/or Federal courts, citing the fact that he did technically win those electoral contests, overturn state laws saying he had to register by a certain date to be eligible. This would almost certainly go before SCOTUS (which might wonder why they have to register at all).

At that point, West could have his 270+ electoral votes and become President.

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    No chaos has to happen in the electoral college. Merely getting enough votes to deny either of the major-party candidates an outright majority of electoral votes would be sufficient to throw the election to the House of Representatives, which can choose from any of the top 3 candidates by electoral votes. Each state's House delegation gets 1 vote. Theoretically, winning a single state (or even a single faithless elector) could accomplish this if the election were close enough. – reirab Oct 25 at 7:23
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Even though you do mention the election and the electoral college, your question asks if Kanye West could become president, and not just if he could be elected. So, within the totally theoretical realm, on the movie plot level of likelihood, something like the following could happen:

  • The 2020 election happens with no surprises, perhaps with Kanye getting some stray votes, but ending up with zero electors. Whoever wins gets sworn in, but Kanye continues in politics.

  • The new Vice President suddenly resigns, leaving the office vacant.

  • Under the 25th amendment, the sitting President gets to nominate a new Vice President in case of a vacancy. The President, probably in awe of Kanye's new-found potential, nominates Kanye as VP. Trusting the President's judgement, Congress approves.

  • A bit later in 2021, the President is removed from the picture. Either by getting impeached by the Congress after having been found out doing something really nasty, or just by getting plain old assassinated.

  • In either case, Vice President Kanye is sworn in as the President of the United States.

(Assassination would probably work better in a movie than impeachment. Quicker, too.)

Another alternative would be to have Kanye rise to some lower position in the new President's administration, within the line of succession, and then have everyone else, including the Vice President, Speaker of the House etc. removed from the picture, leaving Kanye as the sole survivor, and rising up to be President.

(That's basically the plot of Designated Survivor, where pretty much everyone who is anyone gets killed during a bomb strike at the State of the Union address. Too bad that usually happens in January, so it would't work to get Kanye made POTUS before 2022.)

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    Instead of the vice president resigning, you could also have the president resigning and the vice president (after becoming president) nominate Kanye as his new vice president, in the first version. – Paŭlo Ebermann Oct 25 at 23:55
  • The State of the Union address usually happens late January or early February, so after inauguration of the new administration. Timing would be quite tight, but it could be possible in 2021. – jcaron Oct 26 at 11:02
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    This would be the Gerald Ford path to the presidency. VP Spiro Agnew resigns --> Nixon appoints Ford as VP --> Nixon is impeached and resigns --> Ford is now president. – kuhl Oct 26 at 13:22
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Theoretically possible is a very low bar

It would be "theoretically possible" for Kanye West to become President even if he'd never declared his candidacy, never mind being on the ballot anywhere. The following sequence of events will make anyone the President so long as they are eligible:

  1. The current Vice President resigns.
  2. Pursuant to the 25th Amendment the President nominates the desired individual as the replacement Vice President.
  3. Both houses of Congress vote to confirm the new Vice President.
  4. The President resigns.

So it is theoretically possible to "fix" an election this way. Just get both sets of candidates to agree, along with both houses of Congress. The Illuminati's stooge becomes President, and the "election" doesn't even matter.

What is the likelihood something like this happens? As close to zero as makes no difference. But it is theoretically possible. In the same sense, it is "theoretically possible" for Kanye West to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. All that has to happen is the current Chief Justice resigns, then Kanye West is nominated, and the Senate votes to confirm.

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    Or going even a bit farther, Even you don't have the President and VP in pocket, but have Congress (incl. 2/3 of the Senate), you could have the House select the preferred person as Speaker, and then get both the sitting President and VP impeached and removed. – ilkkachu Oct 26 at 8:10
  • Then the obvious follow-on question: is it theoretically possible for Kanye West to be the President, Chief Justice, and Speaker of the House all at once? – Foon Oct 26 at 16:21
  • @Foon I think that's pretty much a solid "No". When someone ascends to the Presidency or Vice Presidency from congress, they must vacate their congressional seat, so they cannot by definition be Speaker (or anyone else in either house of congress) at the same time. I assume there are similar rules about being confirmed to the SCOTUS (whether as Chief Justice or any other Justice). – Darrel Hoffman Oct 26 at 17:05
  • Article 1, section 6.2: 2: No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office. – Ton Day Oct 27 at 20:33
  • TL;DR - If you were part of the Congressional session that cast the vote to either create the job, or to increase its pay, you can't take the job until after your term of office is expired. You also can't have any job in the executive branch (that's what "holding any Office" means) and be a Congressman/Senator. – Ton Day Oct 27 at 20:34
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Yes, theoretically:

Trump refuses to accept the election results, and invokes presidential authority he does not have to refuse to acknowledge Biden as the incoming President. This creates a Constitutional Crisis that SCOTUS takes weeks or months to resolve.

However, the next president being unresolved does not change the fact that the END of the current president's term is set in stone in the Constitution.

Trump must leave office on January 20.

Congress convenes at the beginning of January. The elected Speaker of the House can be anyone, not just an elected House Representative.

Theoretically, the House could convene, Pelosi, not wanting to vacate power by resigning as a member of Congress to temporarily hold the Presidency (Separation of Powers would preclude a standing member of Congress to simultaneously be the President), does not vie for the position. Kanye is nominated and elected Speaker (I'd assume he'd be nominated by some procedural snafu where he would grab the podium and microphone from someone else who was actually nominated and things would devolve from there), and ascends to President via succession, since there is no President or Vice President, on January 20.

Pelosi then becomes Speaker to replace Kanye.

Remember, you said theoretical, not plausible.

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  • This would be the most epic of timelines. – SurpriseDog 8 hours ago
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Question: Is it still theoretically possible for Kanye West to become the US president in 2021?

While I don't see it happen realistically, I think it's possible in theory. To become US president a person needs to meet requirements set out in article II, section 1, clause 5 of the US constitution. Those are:

  • be a natural-born U.S. citizen of the United States;
  • be at least 35 years old;
  • be a resident in the United States for at least 14 years.

The second and more difficult part to becoming the US president is the election. Specifically, the president of the United States is elected by the United States Electoral College. According to Wikipedia:

The Electoral College is a body of electors established by the United States Constitution, which forms every four years for the sole purpose of electing the president and vice president of the United States.

Of course, the electors making up the electoral college are normally determined by the states, through presidential elections in that state. For example, in answer to my question whether a state legislature had ever disregarded the popular vote in their state completely and determined to send a different batch of electors, David Hammen answered (footnotes omitted):

The modern practice, which has been adopted by all 50 states and the District of Columbia, is to delegate the selection of electors to the various political parties

Except for Maine and Nebraska, the party that wins the plurality of the votes in a state wins all of that state's electoral votes. Maine and Nebraska assign statewide electors and district-specific electors, selected by the party that won the state or the district.

But that's not what you asked. You asked if it's theoretically possible to have President Kanye West lead the United States in 2021. Since he meets the criteria from clause 5, he could be elected by the electoral college to become the next president.

The major hurdle that makes this theoretically possible, but not practically possible, is the composition of the electoral college. Modern history would tell us that he would need to win a plurality of votes in enough states' presidential elections to get enough electors to vote for him. While that may not be possible because he isn't on the ballot in enough states, the actual appointment remains a competency of the states. Indeed, per article II, section 1, clause 2:

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

That said, I think that if enough state legislatures decided that they should appoint electors to vote for Kanye West, then there could be a Kanye West presidency in 2021 regardless of the outcome of the presidential election on November 3rd. That's something enough state legislature could do in theory, but it is at the same time unthinkable that even one state would do so.

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