Lawerence Denney 9-11-20

Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney, shown in his office at the state Capitol on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.

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Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney told the Idaho Press this afternoon that his office won't remove Kanye West from Idaho's presidential ballot, despite a legal challenge suggesting West is ineligible as an independent candidate under Idaho law because he's registered as a Republican in Wyoming. "We're going to let them sue," Denney said. 

Denney received a letter from a Boise attorney representing the West campaign on Friday morning, Richard Stover of Eberle Berlin, citing a 2008 Idaho Supreme Court case and arguing that the Idaho Secretary of State has no authority to remove an independent candidate from the ballot, as long as the candidate is a self-described independent. "Mr. West timely filed the proper forms and was certified by your office," Stover wrote to Denney. "More importantly, there is nothing in Idaho Code indicating that the Secretary of State has the inherent or implied power or duty to determine the truthfulness of the statements made in a declaration of candidacy as an independent candidate."

 In the 2008 Idaho Supreme Court case, Henry v. Ysursa, which involved the eligibility of self-proclaimed "real Republican" Rex Rammell to run for the Senate as an independent, the court found the Secretary of State had no power to question Rammell's claim to be an independent candidate. "The legislature has not given the Secretary of State that power or duty," then-Chief Justice Daniel Eismann found, writing for a unanimous court.

Denney said, "As long as they file their paperwork, what the court case says is basically I don't have the authority to take them off. Instead, he said, it's apparently "up to the individual" to be truthful in candidacy declarations.

"The problem we have is that we do already have quite a few ballots printed," Denney said. "I think we have a pretty good case of not taking him off. No. 1 is that Supreme Court cases says I don't have authority. Of course, that doesn't mean they can't change their mind."

"So we're not going to do anything," Denney said. "With ballots already printed, there's going to be a cost to replace those."

"We would hope things just go the way it is," he said, "but if a court orders us to, we'll do some reprinting, I guess."

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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