Maine becomes second state to ban Trump from ballot in 2024

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(BBC) Maine’s top election official has ruled that Donald Trump cannot run for president next year in the state, citing a constitutional insurrection clause.

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said Mr. Trump was not eligible because of his actions leading up to the US Capitol riot in 2021.

Maine now joins Colorado as the two states to ban Mr. Trump from the ballot. The decisions increase pressure on the Supreme Court to weigh in.

Colorado votes reliably Democratic, however, Maine is more politically competitive and would be more significant for Mr Trump – the Republican frontrunner – to lose.

The 34-page ruling says that Mr. Trump must be removed from the Maine primary ballot because of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution – which bans anyone from holding office that has “engaged in insurrection or rebellion”. Hours after Maine’s decision, California announced that Trump would remain on the ballot.

In her order, Mrs. Bellows, a Democrat, says that Mr. Trump “over the course of several months and culminating on January 6, 2021, used a false narrative of election fraud to inflame his supporters and direct them to the Capitol”.

She added that his “occasional requests that rioters be peaceful and support law enforcement do not immunize his actions”.

Speaking with BBC News, Mrs. Bellows said it was her duty to uphold election laws in her state, and that she hoped the “Supreme Court will settle this matter nationwide”.

“I’m mindful that no secretary of state has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on section three of the 14th Amendment. But I’m also mindful that no presidential candidate has, ever before, engaged in insurrection.”

Mr. Trump’s campaign had previously called for Mrs. Bellows to recuse herself from the process, and on Thursday swiftly criticised her decision.

Campaign spokesman Steven Cheung called Mrs. Bellows “a hyper-partisan Biden-supporting Democrat” and claimed she was engaging in “election interference”.

He added that the campaign will “quickly file a legal objection in state court to prevent this atrocious decision in Maine from taking effect”.

And Mr. Trump’s Republican rivals to stand for the presidency also criticised Maine’s decision.
Florida governor Ron DeSantis said Maine’s ruling “opens up Pandora’s Box”, suggesting Republican secretaries of state could try to disqualify President Joe Biden over the issue of migrants at the southern border.

“I don’t think that this ultimately will be legally sustained by the US Supreme Court. But I do think that this is going to be a constant throughout the election year, where there’s going to be different parts of these legal cases that are going to be front and centre,” DeSantis told Fox News.
Vivek Ramaswamy said “this is what an actual threat to democracy looks like”.

Writing on X, formerly Twitter, he restated that he would “withdraw from any state’s ballot that ultimately removes Trump from its ballot”.

Mr. Trump’s 2024 presidential candidacy has been challenged in multiple states, on the grounds that the 14th Amendment bans him from holding office.

The 14th amendment was ratified after the American Civil War in order to block Confederate secessionists from returning to power after southern states re-joined the Union.

Colorado’s ban was the first instance of the Constitution being used to disqualify a presidential candidate.


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