The Maryland State Board of Elections confirmed Wednesday that Kanye West has qualified to be an official write-in candidate for the 2020 election in Maryland, marking the latest chapter in an unconventional presidential run.
This means if somebody writes in West’s name on their ballot, their vote will be tabulated, a spokesperson for the state board explained Wednesday. However, she clarified, West’s name is not printed on the ballot itself.
This comes two days after West released his first presidential campaign advertisement to his 30.9 million Twitter followers. In the video, over cuts of a waving black-and-white flag and childhood photographs of West, the rapper-turned-candidate calls upon Americans to commit themselves to religion and prayer, and to write him in on their ballots.
“By turning to faith, we will be the kind of nation, the kind of people, God intends us to be,” West says, as the camera rushes over rolling ocean waves toward the horizon. He closes the video with, “I’m Kanye West, and I approve this message.”
When West announced his presidential aspirations at the end of a speech at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, few took him seriously. But in July of this year, West officially launched his 2020 campaign at a rally in Charleston, South Carolina, during which he broke down crying as he talked about abortion and said Harriet Tubman “never actually freed the slaves, she just had the slaves go work for other white people.”
His comments sparked anger among some, but also raised concern for West’s well-being. West was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2016, and has spoken openly about the experiences he’s had during manic episodes.
Although West failed to make it on the ballot in a number of states, including West Virginia, he will appear on ballots in Mississippi, Arkansas, Idaho and Iowa, among other states.