Trump's name appears on Maine's primary ballots despite effort of Democrat official to remove him under 14th Amendment challenge

 February 6, 2024

In December, Democratic Maine Secretary of State Sheena Bellows unilaterally determined that former President Donald Trump was disqualified from appearing on the state's primary election ballot under the "insurrection clause" of the U.S. Constitution's 14th Amendment.

That determination was stayed from taking effect pending an appeal, however, and Bellows' office revealed on Monday that Trump's name will appear on Maine's absentee and early voting ballots that are now available ahead of next month's Super Tuesday election, the Washington Examiner reported.

Yet, per a spokesperson for the office, should Trump be found by the courts to be constitutionally disqualified from holding office between now and the March 5 election, any ballots cast for him will be treated as though they are blank and will not be counted.

Ballot removal efforts on hold pending Supreme Court decision

When Sec. Bellows declared in December that former President Trump was ineligible to appear on Maine's primary ballot due to her belief that he had "engaged in insurrection" -- the Jan. 6 Capitol riot of 2021 -- in violation of the 14th Amendment's Section 3, she immediately imposed a stay on her determination pending an appeal.

Trump's lawyers moved quickly to appeal Bellows' decision in state court but the Maine Supreme Court declined to rule on the matter and instead decided to defer to the U.S. Supreme Court, which is set to hear arguments this week on a similar determination on Trump's ballot eligibility from the Colorado Supreme Court, though it is unknown when a final decision will be rendered.

The Supreme Court justices are expected to potentially consider and rule on several pertinent questions in the matter, such as whether the 14th Amendment even applies to the former president, whether he actually "engaged in insurrection" against the U.S. government, and whether Section 3's prohibition against insurrectionists holding office is "self-executing" or requires further legislative action from Congress to take effect, among other things.

Meanwhile, in addition to Maine, there are at least 10 other states where final decisions remain pending on 14th Amendment-related lawsuits challenging Trump's ballot eligibility -- though just as many or more other state courts or top election officials have already ruled against such challenges and deemed the former president eligible to appear on their respective primary and general election ballots.

Trump's name is on the ballot

Given the uncertainty of the timing on this issue, a news release from Bellows' office on Monday revealed that the former president's name will appear on the state's absentee and in-person early-voting ballots -- all of which must be submitted no later than 8 pm on Election Day and will be counted at that point along with all of the day-of ballots cast by voters.

That news release noted that "Should any candidates be found, at this point, to be disqualified from the ballot, or pass away, the Department would notify municipal clerks, and notice would be sent with absentee ballots, posted at voting sites, and posted on the Secretary’s website."

The Examiner reported that Bellows' communications director, Emily Cook, further clarified to the outlet that any ballots cast for any candidate determined by the courts to be ineligible, including Trump, "would simply be treated as blanks."

Maine GOP hopes to send unmistakable message with Trump victory

Spectrum News reported that the Maine Republican Party cheered the fact that former President Trump will appear on the state's absentee and early-voting ballots and hoped that the state's voters would utilize the opportunity to send an unmistakeable message of their broad support for Trump in defiance of the efforts by Democrats to have him removed from the ballots.

"If Mainers are upset about Shenna Bellows’ anti-democratic decision to toss a presidential candidate off the ballot, they can send a message by voting early in-person in the presidential primary," party chair Joel Stetkis said in a statement.

He added, "All candidates -- repeat all candidates, including President Trump -- will be on the ballot Feb. 5 when early in-person voting begins."

There is very little if any public polling in Maine for the 2024 GOP primary, but if that state's voters are like voters in virtually every other state in the country, then Trump stands poised to win that March 5 election by a significant margin of dozens of points over his few remaining competitors for the party's nomination.

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