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Secretaries of State exchange letters over efforts to oust Trump from ballots

President Donald Trump. Courtesy Voice of America.
Chris Woodward

(The Center Square) – Wyoming Secretary of State Chuck Gray and his counterpart in New Hampshire, David Scanlan, exchanged letters over efforts to potentially remove former President Donald Trump from 2024 Republican primary ballots.

Gray, a Republican, alleged in a letter sent Thursday that New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan, who's also a Republican, is among chief election officials "seriously considering the use of their power to remove Donald Trump from the ballot in 2024" by using a clause in the 14th Amendment.

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Scanlan responded Friday with a letter of his own, saying Gray's statements that he's considering removing Trump from his state's primary ballot is "incorrect and based on misinformation."

Lawsuits have been filed by voters in some states, including neighboring Colorado, to prohibit Trump from appearing primary ballots, citing the 14th Amendment. 

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment states that individuals shall not be able to hold any public office if they "having previously taken an oath ... to support the Constitution of the United States ... have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability."

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Gray wrote in his Thursday letter to Scanlan: “First, I take issue with the extremely broad and overreaching interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment to unilaterally remove a candidate from the ballot before an election. Lest we are living through some Orwellian dystopia, the weaponization of the Fourteenth Amendment to remove political opponents from the ballot undermines the sanctity of the Constitution and our entire election process.”

Gray said that keeping a candidate from a ballot would not only impact Wyoming's election but elections in other states as well. 

“I pledge not to use my position of power to place a thumb on the scales of any election by using broad terms in the Constitution to remove qualified candidates from the ballot,” he wrote. “With the public’s trust in our institutions at an all-time low, we are at a pivotal point in which we must put the rule of law above partisan political grievances.”

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U.S. President Donald Trump. FlickrCC - Gage Skidmore

Scanlan's office on Friday provided The Center Square with his response to Gray's letter and cited an August news release from his office and Attorney General John M. Formella that said there has been "misinformation asserting or implying that the Secretary of State's Office has already taken a position on or is seeking to take certain action with respect to Donald Trump's candidacy..."

"Since New Hampshire holds the First-in-the-Nation Presidential Primary, I fully expect my decision to be the focus of litigation, and we are preparing for that," Scanlan's letter in response to Gray stated. "I will be announcing the dates of the filing period for presidential candidates within the next week and plan to clearly respond to the Fourteenth Amendment legal questions that have been raised at the same time."