Legal Hurdles Await Democrats in Battle to Remove Trump from New York Primary Ballot, State Elections Expert Says

Albany, New York – The New York State Board of Elections is expected to make a crucial decision regarding the appearance of former President Donald Trump on the April 2 primary ballot. However, experts suggest that the Democrats may encounter significant obstacles in their quest to remove Trump through this avenue.

According to Joseph Burns, a Republican election attorney, the Board of Elections does not possess the authority to judge qualifications such as the 14th Amendment Section 3 or determine the validity of a candidate’s petition. Such determinations would have to be made in court. Burns emphasized that the Board of Elections is a ministerial body with limited adjudicatory powers.

The controversy stems from Democrats alleging that Trump incited an insurrection on January 6, 2021, when supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol. The New York City Council and state legislature have called for the Board of Elections to remove Trump from the ballot. However, the ultimate decision lies with the Republican commissioners on the board, as stated in New York Republican presidential primary election laws.

While Democrats may argue for Trump’s exclusion based on the 14th Amendment violation, Burns believes that they face an arduous battle in New York. He explained that candidates can gain a spot on the primary ballot through eligibility for matching fund payments, filing a petition with 5,000 signatures from enrolled Republican voters, or claiming national recognition. Given Trump’s prominence and popularity, the latter option would likely be the simplest route.

Burns pointed out that the determination of a candidate’s national recognition lies solely with the Republican commissioners on the State Board of Elections, and it does not require assessing their qualifications or constitutional violations. This diverges from the typical decision-making process that usually requires both Republican and Democrat commissioners to agree.

To remove Trump from the ballot in New York, the Democrats would need to pursue legal action in court. However, Burns noted that this would be a challenge and emphasized the limited standing of potential objectors in state court.

The New York Republican State Committee’s executive director, Jason Weingartner, stressed that the Board of Elections is not a court but a body that lacks the capacity to determine someone’s status as an insurrectionist. He stated that such determinations should be made in a court of law with factual findings.

The Democrats’ plan to remove Trump does not sit well with the New York GOP spokesperson, David Laska, who believes that this attempt undermines democracy and prevents voters from deciding for themselves. He dismissed the notion that anyone would go to court to remove Trump from the ballot and reiterated that standing is limited to objecting individuals.

Similar legal battles are unfolding in other states, including Colorado, where the state Supreme Court has barred Trump from the ballot. Trump has turned to the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge the ruling, arguing that the Colorado Supreme Court lacks authority to deny him a place on the ballot.

Burns suggests that the Supreme Court’s decision on the Colorado case could potentially resolve the issue in New York before any official action takes place. As the case progresses, it remains to be seen whether Trump will have a place on the April 2 primary ballot in New York.