GOP lawmakers say strategy to kick Trump off ballot is 2020 COVID election laws all over again

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Republicans say legal maneuvers to remove former President Donald Trump from several states’ GOP primary ballot are no different from when liberal activists successfully used the courts to change election laws during the COVID pandemic before the 2020 presidential campaign.

Reps. Byron Donalds of Florida and Jerry Carl of Alabama, during separate appearances on the Fox News Channel, accused Democrats and their allies supporting Mr. Trump’s removal from at least a dozen states’ primary ballots of attempting to throw the 2024 campaign cycle into chaos.

“This is what happened before the 2020 election. They were in court everywhere trying to get things like these drop boxes in every municipality in the country, saying that it was too hard to vote because the COVID 19,” Mr. Donalds said. 

“People needed to drop it in a receptacle outside the building. That was a joke and a lie. It is not needed, but they do this every single time, because they want to weaken the infrastructure of voting.” 

Mr. Carl called the strategy to kick Mr. Trump off the primary ballot the “new COVID for 2024.”

“In 2020, they had a us locked down. We couldn’t get out and vote. We could do all this absentee voting. Everything was built around fear,” he said. “So now the new fear and what the Democrat Party is trying to do here is to tear Trump down and say he’s unqualified to run for this office, that is not their job to determine that.”

He added, “The courts got us in this mess. We can’t depend on the federal government to bail us out…No one has the right to be taken off a ballot because a Secretary of State or someone in a position thinks they can do it. It just doesn’t work that way.”

Maine’s Democratic secretary of state unilaterally removed former President Donald Trump from Thursday’s presidential primary ballot under the U.S. Constitution’s insurrection clause, becoming the second state to bar Mr. Trump from the 2024 ballot.

The decision by Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, coming as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to decide on his eligibility, is the first time a state election official has barred Mr. Trump from running.

Her decision follows a 4-3 ruling earlier this month by the Colorado Supreme Court removing Mr. Trump from the GOP primary, to be held on March 5, an order that also referenced Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

The Colorado decision has been stayed until the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether Mr. Trump is prohibited by the Civil War-era provision, which bans those who “engaged in insurrection” from holding office.

“I do not reach this conclusion lightly,” Ms. 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,” she said.

The Trump campaign said it would appeal Ms. Bellows’ decision through Maine’s state court system, and it is likely that the nation’s highest court will have the final say on whether Mr. Trump appears on the ballot there and in the other states.

Liberal activists from organizations across the country have called on state and local election officials to keep Mr. Trump off their respective ballots. 

They often cite a New Mexico Judge who removed an Otero County Commissioner in Sept. 2022 over his participation in the Jan. 6 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol and ruled that the attack was an insurrection. 

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