Maine Democrats block Republican bid to impeach Election Commissioner over Trump ballot removal

Former US President - Donald Trump | Credits: Reuters
Former US President - Donald Trump | Credits: Reuters

United States: Democrats in the Maine Legislature rejected a Republican effort to impeach the state’s chief election commissioner for removing former President Donald Trump off the state ballot over his role in the January 6, 2021, attack on the capitol of the United States.

Democrats Defend Bellows in 80-60 Vote

The Maine House voted 80-60 along party lines to reject an impeachment proposal against Shenna Bellows, the first secretary of state in history to prevent someone from running for president by invoking the United States Constitution’s insurrection clause.

Trump’s Lawyers Seek Supreme Court Intervention

Bellows has termed the impeachment effort political theater and has pledged to follow any judicial verdict on her decision to keep Trump off Maine’s March 5 primary ballot, which is being appealed in Maine Supreme Court.

Republicans are angry with Bellows’ decision that the GOP frontrunner does not meet ballot standards. They maintained that her judgment alienated the more than 300,000 Maine voters who supported Trump in the previous election.

However, they faced long odds in seeking retaliation against the Democrats.

The proposal called for a panel to investigate Bellows’ actions and report back to the 151-member House for an impeachment vote. Democrats will also hold a majority. If the plan succeeded and went forward, it would have been tried in the 35-member Senate, according to the report by the Associated Press.

Legal Grounds for Ballot Exclusion Explored

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment prohibits anyone who has previously taken an oath of office from holding public office if they have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States government.

Constitution for State of Maine | Credits: Maine State Archives

Up to the present, the only state to stop Trump from the ballot is the Colorado state. Colorado Supreme Court’s decision is currently under appeal to the US Supreme Court.

On Monday, Trump’s lawyers requested that a judge halt his appeal of Bellow’s judgment to enable time for a US Supreme Court decision, which might render it irrelevant.

Bellows, 48, is Maine’s 50th secretary of state and the first woman to fill the position, starting in January 2021 after being chosen by lawmakers.

From 2005 to 2013, the former state senator was executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, where he oversaw successful campaigns to legalize same-sex marriage, same-day voter registration, and ranked-choice voting.

Maine’s Electoral Influence

 Maine has only four electoral votes, but it is one of two states that split them, so the state might have a significant impact in what is expected to be a close race. Trump received one of Maine’s electors when he was elected in 2016 and again in 2020 when he lost reelection.