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Election officials weighing Trump’s eligibility for 2024 ballot

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(The Center Square) — Maine election officials are reviewing whether former President Donald Trump is eligible to appear on the presidential ballot next year because of his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows and Attorney General Aaron Frey, both Democrats who the state Legislature appointed, announced that they are looking at a provision of the 14th Amendment that prohibits candidates engaged in “insurrection or rebellion” from holding elected office.

“Our offices are working together to research and analyze the legal requirements for ballot access, including presidential ballot access, as we do prior to every major election,” they said in a statement. “Any decisions about ballot access will be made dispassionately at the proper time in accordance with the laws and the Constitution, which will be our sole consideration.”

The officials didn’t name Trump in the statement, and it’s unclear if State elections officials have received any formal challenges seeking to keep the former president off the ballot.

“As Maine’s Chief Election Official and Chief Legal Officer, we swear oaths to defend the Constitution and the laws of our nation and state, and we take that responsibility very seriously,” they said.

The state’s Republican Party has pledged to fight efforts to bar GOP candidates from next year’s presidential ballot, arguing that voters should be able to cast ballots for their preferred candidates.

“If any shenanigans begin we’re prepared to take action to defend any and all of our candidates,” Maine GOP chairman Joel Stetkis said in a statement. “Mainers should be able to vote for their preferred Republican against Joe Biden – as we’ve seen, Biden and his policies are deeply unpopular here because he’s doing a very bad job.”

Trump, the front-runner in the GOP primary, faces four indictments, including one related to his role in the Jan. 6 riots that sought to stop the certification of the 2020 election results.

The 14th Amendment prohibits anyone who has taken the oath of office to uphold the Constitution from holding public office if they “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.” But legal scholars say it has seldom been used, and they differ on whether it would bar Trump from next year’s ballot.

Election officials in several other states, including New Hampshire and Michigan, are conducting similar reviews of Trump’s eligibility for the ballots under the 14th Amendment provision.

In New Hampshire, the effort is being led by Bryant “Corky” Messner, a Republican whom Trump endorsed when he ran for the Senate in 2020. He argues that Trump is disqualified.

Last year, the nonprofit Free Speech For People sent letters to top election officials in all 50 states requesting Trump’s removal if he were to run again for the presidency.

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