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Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger believes invoking the 14th Amendment to prevent former President Donald Trump from seeking a second term in the White House would only reinforce voter grievances about the U.S. election process.
Efforts to remove Trump from state ballots in the 2024 presidential election are ramping up nationwide after critics argued the leading Republican contender is constitutionally disqualified from serving as president for allegedly engaging in “insurrection” against the United States.
Opponents across the political spectrum of the former president argue that under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, Trump is barred from holding office ever again after the January 6 Capitol breach.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a lawsuit on Wednesday to remove Trump from the ballot in Colorado under the 14th Amendment, accusing the former president of violating Section 3, which bars anyone from running for office who had previously taken an oath of office, then “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof.”
But in an op-ed to The Wall Street Journal published Wednesday, Raffensperger pushed back against such efforts, arguing that “grievances of those who see the system as rigged and corrupt” would only be exacerbated if a secretary of state removed a candidate from a state ballot and “erode the belief in our uniquely American representative democracy.”
“Denying voters the opportunity to choose is fundamentally un-American,” he wrote. “Since our founding, Americans have believed that a government is just when it has earned the consent of the governed. Taking away the ability to choose—or object to—the eligibility of candidates eliminates that consent for slightly less than half of the country.”
Raffensberger and Trump became embroiled in a controversy after the 2020 presidential election after The Washington Post released a phone conversation between the two officials where the president reportedly “pressured” the official to “find” the votes necessary for him to win the state.
However, the Georgia official still argues disqualifying a candidate under such a measure is the “newest way of attempting to short-circuit the ballot box” and that the outcome should be determined by the American people who vote in the primaries and the general election.
“Since 2018, Georgia has seen losing candidates and their lawyers try to sue their way to victory. It doesn’t work,” Raffensperger said. “Stacey Abrams’s claims of election mismanagement following the 2018 election were rejected in court, as were Mr. Trump’s after the 2020 election.”
The Trump campaign called a lawsuit seeking to ban the former president from the ballot in Colorado a political attack based on an “absurd conspiracy theory.”
“The people who are pursuing this absurd conspiracy theory and political attack on President Trump are stretching the law beyond recognition,” campaign spokesman Steven Cheung told ABC News in a statement. “There is no legal basis for this effort except in the minds of those who are pushing it.”