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NH secretary of state says he won't block Trump from presidential primary ballot

Josh Rogers
/
NHPR
New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan (center) speaks to reporters, Sept. 13, 2023.

New Hampshire’s top election official says Donald Trump will appear on the state's presidential primary ballot next year if he files his candidacy in accordance with state law.

“As long as he submits his declaration of candidacy and signs it under the penalties of perjury and pays the $1,000 filing fee, his name will appear on the presidential primary ballot,” Secretary of State David Scanlan told reporters Wednesday, at a briefing he called to discuss efforts — in New Hampshire and elsewhere — to bar Trump from the 2024 ballot because of his actions in the wake of the 2020 election.

Some legal scholars and Trump critics have claimed in recent weeks that the former president is ineligible to run for the White House because the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits those who “engaged in an insurrection or rebellion” from holding higher office.

Speaking Wednesday, Scanlan said state law doesn’t allow him to use that language to bar a candidate from the New Hampshire ballot.

"There is no mention in New Hampshire state statute that a candidate in a New Hampshire presidential primary can be disqualified using the 14th amendment of the US constitution,” Scanlan said.

The issue has become a charged question for election officials across the country. Lawsuits aiming to block Trump from the ballot have been filed in multiple states, including New Hampshire.

This week, 80 Republican New Hampshire lawmakers wrote Scanlan asking him to reject efforts to block Trump from the ballot, deriding the effort as “an absurd conspiracy theory” and “fraud against the will of the people.”

Scanlan said that New Hampshire’s presidential primary has always been “inclusive.”

He also argued that if Trump’s eligibility to run again is to be decided, it should be a national determination, made by the U.S. Supreme Court. He predicted state-by-state decisions would spark “chaos, confusion, anger and frustration.”

“At a time when we need to ensure transparency and build confidence among voters around the country, the delegate selection process should not be the battleground to test this constitutional question,” Scanlan said.

Scanlan’s view was buttressed by a legal analysis released this week by Attorney General John Formella, who wrote that “New Hampshire law does not give the Secretary of State discretion to decline to place a presidential primary candidate’s name on the ballot based on an alleged [constitutional] disqualification.”

State law does grant Scanlan complete authority over setting the date of the New Hampshire primary. He indicated he’ll make that decision in due time, but he did announce that candidates looking to get on the ballot here can file their candidacies between Oct. 11 and Oct. 27.