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Updated December 29th, 2023 at 12:56 IST

US elections: Bipartisan backlash emerges over Maine's move to exclude Trump from 2024 ballot

The decision by Bellows, a Democratic official, aligns with a similar controversial ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court.

Sagar Kar
Trump
Ex US President Donald Trump. | Image:AP
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Maine's Secretary of State, Shenna Bellows, found herself at the center of a contentious debate on Thursday after her decision to bar former President Trump from featuring on the state's 2024 presidential primary ballot. This move sparked considerable criticism from both Republican and some Democratic lawmakers, echoing a broader debate on the extent of state officials' powers in shaping ballot access.

The decision by Bellows, a Democratic official, aligns with a similar controversial ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court, setting the stage for a potential showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court in the coming weeks. The implications of these decisions have reverberated across political lines, prompting a cascade of reactions from various quarters.

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Setting a dangerous precedent?

In response to Bellows' action, there was a notable bipartisan pushback. According to a report from Axios, Representative Jared Golden, a Democrat who voted to impeach Trump over the January 6 events, highlighted that adherence to legal procedures is vital. "Until he is actually found guilty of the crime of insurrection, he should be allowed on the ballot," Golden emphasized, underscoring the importance of upholding the rule of law.

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Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from Maine, emphasized the fundamental role of voters in determining election outcomes. "Maine voters should decide who wins the election — not a Secretary of State chosen by the Legislature," Collins stated, echoing the sentiment that electoral decisions should be in the hands of the electorate.

An attempt to ensure Biden doesn't have to face Trump?

House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik labeled the decision as "illegal and corrupt," framing it as an attempt by Democrats to use governmental mechanisms against Trump, positioning him as a political adversary to President Biden.

The controversy surrounding Bellows' move has triggered broader discussions on democracy. Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina voiced his intention to introduce legislation aimed at curbing federal funds to states restricting candidates' access based on the 14th Amendment. He condemned the decision as "egregious abuse of power," vowing to present a bill upon Congress's return, aiming to shift such constitutional challenges exclusively to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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The furore surrounding the exclusion of Trump from the ballot in Maine underscores the complexity of the intersection between state officials' authority and the constitutional rights of candidates, setting the stage for potential legal battles and congressional action as the 2024 election cycle looms ahead.

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Published December 29th, 2023 at 12:56 IST

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