Lawmakers act after Trump ballot disqualification



(The Center Square) – North Carolina’s state and federal lawmakers say they want to preserve fair elections following recent developments to keep former President Donald Trump off the ballot.

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and Elections Chair Rep. Grey Mills, R-Iredell, said Thursday they are pursuing legislation to counter efforts in North Carolina to prevent Trump from appearing on the 2024 presidential ballot.

“In light of recent efforts by activists both here in North Carolina and other (states), we believe it is necessary for us to explore legislative action to ensure the Democratic majority on the NC State Board of Elections does not have unchecked authority to remove a major political party’s nominee from the ballot,” Moore and Mills wrote in a joint statement.

“North Carolina will be a critical state in the upcoming presidential election and removing a leading candidate is this race like President Trump would be an affront to democracy.”

The North Carolina State Board of Elections on Tuesday voted 4-1 against acting on a complaint from voter Sandy Ridge that alleges Trump is not qualified for the Republican primary election. The complaint pointed to the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment that bars anyone from serving as president who has previously sworn an oath to the constitution and “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same,” citing the Jan. 6, 2021 events at the Capitol.

The elections board ruled it did not have the authority to block Trump from the primary ballot, but signaled it may revisit the issue for the general election.

Tuesday’s vote in North Carolina came the same day the Colorado Supreme Court voted 4-3 to disqualify Trump from the ballot based on the same reasoning. The Colorado ruling came from seven justices appointed by past or present Democratic governors, and Trump is expected to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

That court has a 6-3 conservative majority, including three justices who were nominated by Trump.

The situation prompted U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, and others to introduce the Constitutional Election Integrity Act, which would prevent state politicians or courts from disqualifying presidential candidates from the ballot on constitutional matters they argue should be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The bill stipulates the U.S. Supreme Court has sole jurisdiction to decide claims arising out of section three of the 14th Amendment and would withhold federal funds for election administration from states that abuse the constitution for political purposes.

“Regardless of whether you support or oppose former President Donald Trump, it is outrageous to see left-wing activists make a mockery of our political system by scheming with partisan state officials and pressuring judges to remove him from the ballot,” Tillis said in a statement. “American voters, not partisan activists, should decide who we elect as our president. The Constitutional Election Integrity Act would put any constitutional challenges in the sole place they belong: the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Every single Republican primary poll conducted in North Carolina has shown Trump with a commanding lead. A polling average from 538 shows 60.6% of the state’s GOP primary voters back Trump, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis a distant second at 14.7%, followed by former North Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley at 9.7%. Nationally, the polling average shows Trump leading with 62% of Republican primary voters.

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