Criminal Justice & the Rule of Law Democracy & Elections

Trump Disqualified from Maine’s Primary Ballot

Hyemin Han
Thursday, December 28, 2023, 7:32 PM

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows’s decision makes Maine the second state to have removed former President Donald Trump from a primary ballot.

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On Dec. 28, Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows ruled that former President Donald Trump is not eligible to be listed on the state’s primary ballot due to his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The ruling comes in response to three administrative challenges raised pursuant to Maine’s election laws and after Bellows heard arguments from challengers and Trump’s lawyers about the merits of disqualification. 

Today’s decision makes Maine the second state in which the former president has been barred from the primary ballot under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. A petition for review of Trump’s disqualification by the Colorado Supreme Court, which was the first to remove Trump from a state’s primary ballot, is currently pending at the Supreme Court.

The ruling states Trump must be removed from Maine’s primary presidential ballot because Bellows concludes that “the record establishes that Mr. Trump, over the course of several months and culminating on January 6, 2021, used a false narrative of election fraud to inflame his supporters and direct them to the Capitol to prevent certification of the 2020 election and the peaceful transfer of power.” She also concluded that Trump was “aware of the likelihood for violence and at least initially supported its use given he both encouraged it with incendiary rhetoric and took no timely action to stop it.”

Trump is allowed to appeal the decision in Maine Superior Court within five days. The decision is stayed pending any appeals, keeping Trump on the ballot for now.

On the decision, Bellows wrote:

I do not reach this conclusion lightly. Democracy is sacred… I am mindful that no Secretary of State has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment. I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection. The oath I swore to uphold the Constitution comes first above all, and my duty under Maine’s election laws, when presented with a Section 336 challenge, is to ensure that candidates who appear on the primary ballot are qualified for the office they seek.

You can read Secretary Bellows’s decision here or below. Find it also on Lawfare's Trump Disqualification Tracker


Hyemin Han is an associate editor of Lawfare and is based in Washington, D.C. Previously, she worked in eviction defense and has interned on Capitol Hill and with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. She holds a BA in government from Dartmouth College, where she was editor-in-chief of The Dartmouth independent daily.

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