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Secretary of State defends removing Trump from Maine ballot

By Jake Beardslee · January 2, 2024

In brief…

  • Her decision follows a similar ruling in Colorado barring Trump from the ballot
  • Bellows says ruling upheld Constitution despite accusations of partisanship
  • Legal appeals could determine Trump's ballot eligibility in other states
Maine Secretary of State barred Donald Trump from the 2024 ballot, prompting appeals and debate over the ex-president's election eligibility.  Shenna Bellows U.S. Senate campaign/Wikimedia

Former President Donald Trump will soon appeal a decision by Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows to disqualify him from the state’s 2024 Republican primary ballot, according to Trump’s representatives. Bellows made the ruling last week, citing Section 3 of the 14th Amendment which bars individuals who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S. from holding office. Her decision follows a similar move by Colorado’s Supreme Court to block Trump from the state’s ballot.

Bellows explained to NPR that under Maine law, any registered voter can challenge a candidate’s ballot qualification. Five voters did so in Trump’s case, including two former Republican state senators. Bellows was then required to hold a hearing and issue a ruling. She reviewed evidence from the proceedings showing the events of January 6, 2021 were an unprecedented “attack” on democracy incited by Trump. Although she is a Democrat, Bellows maintained politics played no role in her decision, which she claims simply upheld the Constitution.

Critics like Maine Congressman Jared Golden argue Trump shouldn’t be barred without a formal conviction. Bellows counters that the 14th Amendment does not require a conviction, only evidence of insurrection. Her ruling is currently suspended pending Trump’s planned appeal through the court system. She hopes for quick clarity from the U.S. Supreme Court given the compressed timeline for sending out primary ballots.

The legal battle ultimately could determine Trump’s eligibility in key primary states.