New Hampshire’s chief election official, Secretary of State Dave Scanlan, has chosen not to utilize the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to bar ex-President Donald Trump from the state’s primary ballot. This decision comes despite the fact that New Hampshire initiates the Republican nomination process with its primary.
On Wednesday, Scanlan also revealed that the window for 2024 presidential primary applications will commence on Oct. 11. This suggests a potential overlap with plans from the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
The press event in Concord was partly convened due to the legal initiatives of certain New Hampshire Republicans aiming to stop Trump from being listed on the 2024 ballot. However, Scanlan stated that Trump would be on the ballot if he officially declares his candidacy, certifies it under penalty of perjury, and pays the necessary fee. Scanlan stressed that this procedure is obligatory.
Bryant “Corky” Messner, a notable Republican and attorney who had secured the 2020 Republican Senate nomination with Trump’s endorsement, was considering legal action if Trump tried to enter the race. Messner had publicly challenged Trump’s qualifications based on the 14th Amendment’s Section 3, which bars individuals from office if they’ve aided insurrections against the U.S. In addition, John Anthony Castro, another Republican presidential hopeful, initiated a lawsuit in New Hampshire to exclude Trump from the ballot.
Scanlan emphasized that New Hampshire law doesn’t grant the Secretary of State authority to disqualify candidates based on the 14th Amendment, especially with regards to insurrection. Furthermore, nothing in their laws gives him discretion regarding qualifications once a candidate has sworn to meet presidential prerequisites.
After consulting the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office, the state’s attorney general, John Formella, agreed that state law doesn’t provide the Secretary of State the authority to disqualify a candidate on such grounds unless they have been convicted.
The ultimate decision on this matter, particularly the 14th Amendment’s Section 3, will probably be determined by the U.S. Supreme Court, Scanlan pointed out.
Scanlan’s announcement was soon after he received a letter from the Trump campaign, endorsed by numerous New Hampshire Republican legislators, criticizing the 14th Amendment arguments.
Scanlan also warned that inconsistencies across state ballots could result in turmoil and dissatisfaction among voters. He stressed the importance of transparent and trust-building processes during these contentious times.
Chris Ager, New Hampshire GOP chair, expressed satisfaction with the decision, emphasizing the clarity it brings.
Scanlan also mentioned that the registration period for presidential hopefuls in New Hampshire will last from Oct. 11 to Oct. 27.
The century-long tradition of New Hampshire hosting the inaugural presidential primary faces challenges from the DNC, which recently voted to modify its 2024 election cycle by displacing Iowa and New Hampshire from their premier positions. However, the new structure is yet to be finalized. The DNC’s push for changes has been strongly opposed in New Hampshire due to concerns over representation.
New Hampshire’s longstanding policy is to conduct its presidential primary a week ahead of any similar contest. If non-compliant with the DNC’s guidelines, the state could see a reduction in its delegate count at the Democratic presidential nominating convention.
Many Democrats from Iowa and New Hampshire perceive the potential change in their premier positions as a reaction to Biden’s less-than-stellar performances in the 2020 Iowa and New Hampshire primaries. However, no primary date has been finalized by Scanlan, though the established registration dates suggest a possible primary on Jan. 23, shortly after Iowa’s GOP caucus.