Maine becomes second US state to declare it wants to remove Donald Trump from 2024 ballot

Former US President Donald Trump. Credit: PA

Maine’s Democratic secretary of state removed former President Donald Trump from the state’s presidential primary ballot as the US Supreme Court is poised to decide whether Trump remains eligible to return to the White House.

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows found that Trump could no longer run for his prior job because his role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol violated Section 3, which bans from office those who “engaged in insurrection.”

“I do not reach this conclusion lightly,” Bellows wrote in her 34-page decision.

“I am mindful that no Secretary of State has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment. I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection.”

In her decision, Bellows acknowledged that the US Supreme Court will probably have the final word but said it was important she did her official duty.

She is the first election official to take this action unilaterally.

Her decision follows a ruling earlier this month by the Colorado Supreme Court that booted Trump from the ballot there under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

The Trump campaign said it would appeal Bellows' decision to Maine's state courts, and Bellows suspended her ruling until that court system rules on the case.

"We are witnessing, in real-time, the attempted theft of an election and the disenfranchisement of the American voter,” Trump's campaign spokesman Steven Cheung said in a statement.

It also requested that Bellows disqualify herself from the case because she'd previously tweeted that January 6 was an "insurrection” and bemoaned that Trump was acquitted in his impeachment trial in the US Senate after the attack.

But she refused to step aside, telling reporters on Thursday night: “My decision was based exclusively on the record presented to me at the hearing and was in no way influenced by my political affiliation or personal views about the events of January 6, 2021.”

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows speaks at an event, January 4, 2023, in Augusta, Maine.

While Maine has just four electoral votes, it’s one of two states to split them.

Trump won one of Maine’s electors in 2020, so having him off the ballot there, should he emerge as the Republican general election candidate, could have outsized implications in a race that is expected to be narrowly decided.

That's in contrast to Colorado, which Trump lost by 13 percentage points in 2020 and where he wasn't expected to compete in November if he wins the Republican presidential nomination.

The timing on the US Supreme Court's decision is unclear, but both sides want it fast.

Colorado's Republican Party appealed the Colorado high court decision on Wednesday, urging an expedited schedule, and Trump is also expected to file an appeal within the week.

The petitioners in the Colorado case on Thursday urged the nation's highest court to adopt an even faster schedule so it could rule before March 5, known as Super Tuesday, when 16 states, including Colorado and Maine, are scheduled to vote in the Republican presidential nominating process.

The high court needs to formally accept the case first, but legal experts consider that a certainty.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...