Challenge to having Trump’s name on North Carolina’s primary ballot has been dismissed

Published 2:22 pm Wednesday, December 20, 2023

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North Carolina’s election board threw out on Tuesday a voter’s challenge to keep former President Donald Trump off the March presidential primary ballots that argues that the Constitution disqualifies Trump because of his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The State Board of Elections, composed of three Democrats and two Republicans, voted 4-1 to dismiss the candidate challenge made by Brian Martin, of Stokes County. The majority determined that it lacked the authority in state law to consider such a challenge. The rejection of the challenge could be appealed to state court.

Martin, a business consultant and retired lawyer, wrote that Trump wasn’t qualified to be president because he violated a section of the 14th Amendment that bars from office anyone who once took an oath to uphold the Constitution but then “engaged” in “insurrection or rebellion” against it. The provision was used primarily after the Civil War to keep former Confederates out of government.

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Trump opponents argue the section applies to the ex-president for his part in trying to overturn the 2020 presidential election and encouraging his backers to storm the U.S. Capitol. Late Tuesday, the Colorado Supreme Court cited the section in declaring that Trump is ineligible for the White House and removed him from that state’s primary ballot. The ruling could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

North Carolina board members said earlier Tuesday that their ruling didn’t prevent someone from trying to challenge Trump’s candidacy for the general election should he win the GOP nomination, WRAL-TV reported. Siobhan Millen, a Democrat and the lone vote against dismissing the challenge, said the board was “hiding behind a technicality” to avoid the issue now.

The dismissal came as the state board gave initial approval to names of the presidential candidates that will be on the March 5 primary ballots for the Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties.

The board approved the candidates offered by party leaders earlier this month. The board will meet Jan. 2, when they may consider additional names before ballots are printed.

State law directed the parties earlier this month to provide lists that must have candidates “whose candidacy is generally advocated and recognized in the news media throughout the United States or in North Carolina.”

The state Democratic Party listed only President Joe Biden. Other announced candidates like U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., and Marianne Williamson were omitted.

In addition to Trump, the state GOP’s letter identified Ryan Binkley, Chris Christie, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson and Vivek Ramaswamy. The Libertarian Party listed 10 names for their presidential primary ballot.

The Green Party and the No Labels Party also are official parties in North Carolina. They can offer presidential tickets in 2024 to place on the general election ballots.