Maine House votes down GOP effort to impeach election official who removed Trump from ballot

AUGUSTA, Maine — Democrats who control Maine’s Legislature on Tuesday rebuffed a Republican effort to oust the state’s top election official over her decision to remove former President Donald Trump from the state ballot over his role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol January 6, 2021.

The Maine House voted 80-60 along party lines to reject an impeachment resolution against Shenna Bellows, the first secretary of state in history to prevent someone from running for president by invoking the insurrection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Bellows has called the impeachment effort political theater and has vowed to abide by any legal ruling on her decision to keep Trump out of Maine’s March 5 primary, which is being appealed to the Maine Superior Court.

Republicans are outraged by Bellows’ conclusion that the Republican Party leader is not meeting voting requirements. They argued that her decision disenfranchised the more than 300,000 voters in Maine who chose Trump in the last election.

But they had encountered major difficulties in seeking retaliation against the Democrat.

The proposal called for a panel to investigate Bellows’ actions and report to the 151-member House for an impeachment vote. Had the proposal moved forward, there would have been a trial in the 35-member Senate, where Democrats also have a majority.

Section 3 of the 14th Amendment prohibits those “engaged in insurrection” from holding office. Some legal scholars say the post-Civil War clause applies to Trump because of his role in overturning the 2020 presidential election and encouraging his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

So far, Colorado is the only other state that has excluded Trump from the ballot. This Colorado Supreme Court decision is currently being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Monday, Trump’s lawyers asked a judge to put on hold his appeal of Bellow’s decision to allow time for a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that could make it moot.

Bellows, 48, is Maine’s 50th secretary of state and the first woman to hold the position. She started in January 2021 after being elected by lawmakers.

The former senator also served as executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine from 2005 to 2013 and worked on successful efforts to legalize same-sex marriage, same-day voter registration and ranked choice voting.

Although Maine has only four electoral votes, it is one of two states that split them, so the state could have been more important in what is expected to be a close race. Trump earned one of Maine’s electors when he was elected in 2016 and again in 2020 when he lost reelection.