What Kanye West Would Need to Do to Really Become President
— MTV (@MTV) August 31, 2015
At last night's wacky, all-over-the-place, star-studded MTV Video Music Awards, Kanye West was honored with the show's prestigious Video Vanguard Award, a semi-annual honor (it's been given four of the past five years, but only 11 times in the past 20) that is essentially akin to a Lifetime Achievement Award. But after his extensive, rambling acceptance speech, the headlines were less about his honor and more about his mic drop, before which he announced that he'd be running for President of the United States of America in 2020.
Whether or not to believe Kanye is another matter entirely; Waka Flocka Flame announced in April that he would be running for President in 2016, a hilarious prospect that was put to bed because the Atlanta MC does meet the age requirement (candidates must be at least 35 years old). At 38, however, Yeezy is already old enough to run in 2016, and by Inauguration Day of 2021 he would be 43 years old, which wouldn't even make him the youngest-ever U.S. president (Teddy Roosevelt was 42). The only other two qualifications for running for the position are based on where the individual is born and how long they've lived in the United States; having been born in Atlanta, raised in Chicago and now currently living in California, Kanye fulfills both requirements as well.
Okay, so Kanye's at least technically qualified to run for President. What's next? The first thing he'd have to do would be actually become a candidate, which takes more than a declaration; according to the Federal Election Commission of the United States, that would require Yeezy either receiving or spending at least $5,000 in pursuit of that goal, or authorizing someone else to receive or spend the money on his behalf. Theoretically pretty easy for someone as wealthy as Kanye, that move would allow him to file the appropriate federal paperwork, which must be completed with 15 days of the candidacy's announcement. That takes the form of a one-sheet requesting address information, party affiliation, intended office, home district and the announcement of any campaign committees that may be associated with the run for office. He'd have to then file monthly or quarterly reports with the FEC in order to disclose his campaign's finances. If he'd declared for 2016, Kanye would be the 981st candidate who has at least preliminarily filed paperwork to run for President. (As recently as this weekend, 22 more people joined the race.)
Technically that's all he'd have to do to become a candidate, but actually running for President takes a little bit more; in 2012, out of 417 candidates who filed the necessary paperwork, only 28 actually appeared on a ballot in at least one state. (Also, shoutout to "None Of These Candidates," whose 5,770 votes—all from Nevada—was still good enough for 12th place.) But getting on every state's ballot isn't simple or easy and must be done individually, with each state setting their own rules. Generally this is handled through the Secretary of State or Board of Elections and requires getting the support of a few thousand signatures from around the state; Illinois, for instance, has some pretty strict guidelines, but if we're to assume 'Ye would run as an independent (he said in November he was supporting Democrats in the midterms, but it's unclear if he's a full member of the party) then he'd need either 25,000 signatures or "1 percent of the number of voters who voted at the next preceding statewide general election," whichever is less. That would get him on the ballot in one state; he'd have to go through the process 49 more times to have any type of shot of actually making a dent. And that's to assume he avoids primaries, political parties, and the like.
Those are the bare bones of the situation, though he's got plenty of time; if 2012 is anything to go by, for example, he has until mid-June 2020 to file in Illinois, though that would probably not be wise. But if he's gonna be sitting down and developing a campaign strategy, a legitimate platform and decide what he wants to fight for ("Listen to the kids!"), he'll need that time. Until then, it's watch and wait time. And, if we could suggest a running mate, why not see if Jay Z is free? He's got a few years to tie up loose ends. It's not a throne, per se, but it's not too shabby.