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Does 'Before 5:01 p.m.' Count as Making a 5 p.m. Deadline?

Kanye West's presidential campaign claims a form was wrongly disqualified—because it was turned in before 5:01 p.m. with a 5:00 p.m. deadline. Now, the nature of time hangs in the balance.
Katie Way
Brooklyn, US
August 11, 2020, 5:49pm
GettyImages-1076421052
Photo by Roy Rochlin via Getty Images

Kayne West is running for president - boo. Old news! Didn’t he do this last time? But in the midst of his campaign’s attempt to get him on as many presidential ballots as possible, he accidentally surfaced a mind-rending, earth-shattering—and newsroom-dividing—question.

The deadline for West’s campaign to submit nomination signatures to Wisconsin’s state Elections Commission was 5 p.m. yesterday. West’s campaign submitted the document at 5:00:14 p.m., which the commission is now claiming is after the 5 p.m. deadline. West’s campaign disputes this, and now we have on our hands a philosophical debate about nothing less than the essence of time itself. 

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West’s campaign has filed a complaint against the commission, with a lawyer arguing that “[f]or the average observer, arriving before 5:01 p.m. is arriving 'not later' than 5:00pm. The phrase 'not later' is particularly instructive in that it indicates the presumption that the seconds from 5:00:00 to 5:00:59 are inclusive to 5:00pm.”

On the one hand, what are the seconds between one minute and the next, if not the minute itself. Would we not still applaud Dolly Parton “workin’ 9 to 5/what a way to make a livin’,”  when she arrives to work with her cup of ambition at 9:00:34? On the other hand, if your boss told you you were leaving early from work unless you stayed until the stroke of 5:01 p.m., wouldn’t that be bullshit?

Maybe this all assumes there is an “on time” window (very different windows, depending on whether you are late to a work meeting, late to drinks with friends, late to boarding and international flight). Maybe in a deadline scenario, there is no such thing as being “on time” and a 5 p.m. deadline inherently calls for a pre-5 p.m. submission.  

Of course, the nomination signature document also reportedly contained signatures from “Mickey Mouse” and “Bernie Sanders” so, yeah, he shouldn’t be on the ballot. He also probably shouldn’t be running for president. But, nonetheless, we are glad to see him take  a stand against Big Deadline and “the nature of linear time” in the process.

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