Maine’s secretary of state will appeal the decision to exclude Trump from the ballot

Maine’s top elections official said Friday she intends to appeal a Supreme Court judge’s ruling this week that put on hold her decision to bar former President Donald J. Trump from the state’s Republican primary.

In a statement, the official, Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, said she welcomed the guidance from the US Supreme Court, which is expected to hear arguments on a similar case on February 8. But in the meantime, she said, she will seek input from Maine’s highest court.

“I know that both constitutional and state issues are of great concern to many,” Ms Bellows wrote in a brief statement on Friday. “This appeal ensures that Maine’s highest court has the opportunity to weigh in now, before the ballots are counted, promoting confidence in our free, safe and secure elections.”

In a ruling late Friday, Maine’s highest court chief justice, Valerie Stanfill, described the order of the lower court as “generally can’t complain.” She ordered Ms Bellows to provide an explanation by Tuesday why the appeal should not be dismissed.

Ms. Bellows, a Democrat elected by the state legislature, ruled on Dec. 28 that Mr. Trump was ineligible for the statewide ballot in Maine because he joined the rebellion encouraging an attack on the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The 14th Amendment disqualifies government officials who have “engaged in rebellion or sedition” from holding office.

Her decision made Maine the second state to ban him from voting, after a court in Colorado reached the same conclusion. Similar ballot requests have been filed in at least 35 states; many remain unresolved even though the primary season is already underway.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers appealed Ms. Bellows’ decision to the state Supreme Court, arguing that her finding was biased and lacked the authority to bar him from voting. Supreme Court Justice Michaela Murphy did not uphold or overturn Ms. Bellows’ decision in her court order on Wednesday, but ordered the secretary of state to issue a new ruling after the US Supreme Court issues its decision.

The Republican primaries in Maine and Colorado are scheduled for March 5, known as Super Tuesday because many states hold primaries on that day; The deadline for Maine to send ballots to overseas voters is Saturday. Because Ms. Bellows’ decision to exclude Mr. Trump was put on hold, first by her own ruling and then by a court, the ballots printed to date include Mr. Trump’s name, her office confirmed.

Ethan Strimling, a former Portland mayor who was among the voters who challenged Mr. Trump’s eligibility to vote in Maine, said he supported Ms. Bellows’ plan to appeal the Supreme Court ruling and seek guidance elsewhere.

“The question must be answered,” he said.

Nicholas F. Jacobs, an assistant professor of government at Kolby College in Waterville, Maine, saw little potential benefit from the appeal. Given the complex and unprecedented process now underway, Maine voters “are already in a precarious position and will remain so until the Supreme Court issues its decision,” he wrote in an email.

“The only thing we can be sure of is that on Super Tuesday, Mainers will be even more confused about whether their vote counts,” he added.

Leave a Comment