After Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows unilaterally ruled that former President Donald Trump is disqualified from the state’s election ballot, a number of lawmakers have vowed to support legislation that would punish states who opt to take similar action.
U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) previously introduced a bill that would disqualify electors who remove a major party candidate from their respective state ballots. “New law… If any state in our Union blocks the official nominee of a major political party from the Presidential ballot, their electoral slate will not be counted by Congress on the following January 6th,” Higgins wrote in an X post announcing the bill.
“Play stupid games, win stupid prizes,” he added.
Bellows’ decision — which was announced just hours after Colorado opted to place Trump back on the state’s ballot pending review from the U.S. Supreme Court — has likewise been met with opposition across party lines. “Maine voters should decide who wins the election – not a Secretary of State chosen by the Legislature,” Maine Senator Susan Collins wrote in an X post shortly after the decision was announced. “The Secretary of State’s decision would deny thousands of Mainers the opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice, and it should be overturned.”
Maine voters should decide who wins the election – not a Secretary of State chosen by the Legislature.
The Secretary of State’s decision would deny thousands of Mainers the opportunity to vote for the candidate of their choice, and it should be overturned.
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) December 29, 2023
The unprecedented move has also been met with criticism from members of Bellows’ own party, including U.S. Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME), who condemned the decision in an X post on Thursday.
“I do not believe he should be re-elected as President of the United States,” Golden, who voted to impeach the former president after the January 6 protests, wrote. “However, we are a nation of laws, therefore until he is found guilty of the crime of insurrection, he should be allowed on the ballot.”
My statement on the Maine Secretary of State's ruling: pic.twitter.com/ByO3XJe1JS
— Congressman Jared Golden (@RepGolden) December 29, 2023
Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) has drafted legislation to restrict federal funds for states that remove candidates from the ballot under the 14th Amendment. The senator stated that he plans to introduce the bill as soon as Congress returns from recess.
“This is an egregious abuse of power and why I will be introducing the Constitutional Election Integrity Act as soon as Congress returns to session to stop these partisan officials and ensure any constitutional challenge is only decided by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Tillis wrote in an X post.
Maine’s Democrat Secretary of State just removed Trump from the ballot. This is an egregious abuse of power and why I will be introducing the Constitutional Election Integrity Act as soon as Congress returns to session to stop these partisan officials and ensure any… https://t.co/evVu6bSv0H
— Senator Thom Tillis (@SenThomTillis) December 29, 2023
For her part, Bellows claimed she is “duty bound” to bar Trump from the ballot because he incited an “insurrection” on January 6, 2021. Trump has not been charged with, or much less convicted of, inciting an “insurrection” in any of the four separate criminal cases levied against him.