New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan on Wednesday addressed the challenges to former President Donald Trump’s eligibility to appear on state ballots, saying, “In a situation where some states permit a name to appear on the ballot and other states disqualify it, there’s going to be chaos, confusion, anger and frustration.”
The secretary of state announced at a news conference that New Hampshire’s filing period for candidates will run from Oct. 11 to Oct. 27. But this year’s filing period has drawn unusual scrutiny because opponents of Trump are talking about using Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to block him from being on the 2024 ballot in various states because of his and his allies’ efforts to overturn the 2020 election. The former president’s supporters have questioned whether Scanlan would move to bar him despite his assurances to the contrary, and lawsuits have already been filed in New Hampshire and other states on the issue.
The constitutional provision in question bars anyone who took an oath to uphold the Constitution from holding public office if they have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion against” the nation. Scanlan raised concerns at the news conference about an uneven application of the so-called insurrection clause and emphasized that if a presidential candidate “properly submits their paperwork during the filing period and pays the required fee, their name will appear on the ballot” in the state.
“Either a 14th amendment disqualification applies across the board, or it does not,” he said. “The United States Supreme Court is the authority and could make a determination on a disqualification challenge regarding a presidential candidate that would apply to all of the states.”
“At a time when we need US election officials 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,” he added.
The chairman of the state Republican Party, Chris Ager, who attended Scanlan’s news conference, said he was “very happy” with the secretary’s remarks, “and so now we can put that 14th Amendment to bed in New Hampshire and get back to campaigning retail, which is what we do so well here.”
New Hampshire campaign co-chair Bruce Breton noted Scanlan’s remarks on qualifying for the ballot, telling NBC News, “Anybody who pays the filing fee and meets the requirements will be placed on the ballot — no more trying to keep Trump off the ballot. More darts have been thrown at Trump than a dart board in the office.”
Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment.
Earlier this month, Trump called the efforts to keep him off the ballots in some states “nonsense” and “election interference.”
Ahead of the news conference, the Trump campaign released a letter to Scanlan signed by a group of New Hampshire state lawmakers that asserted there was “no legal basis” for the lawsuits against Trump to hold up in court and said those filing the challenges were “weaponizing” the Constitution.
“The opinions of those perpetuating this fraud against the will of the people are nothing more than a blatant attempt to affront democracy and disenfranchise all voters and the former President,” they wrote.
On Tuesday, a group of Minnesota voters filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court seeking to remove former President Donald Trump from the ballot, citing the insurrection clause.
“Donald J. Trump, through his words and actions, after swearing an oath as an officer of the United States to support the Constitution, engaged in insurrection or rebellion, or gave aid and comfort to its enemies, as defined by Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment,” the lawyers wrote in the complaint.
A group of voters in Colorado also filed a similar lawsuit earlier this month.
Scanlan previously told NBC News he is “not seeking to remove any names from the presidential primary ballot, and I have not said that I am seeking to remove any names from the presidential primary ballot.”
That remark came after his office was flooded with hundreds of calls in late August from Trump supporters who were calling to make sure the former president was going to be on the ballot after conservative talk show host Charlie Kirk falsely claimed otherwise.
Election chiefs across the country are facing similar questions. Earlier this month, NBC News asked the top election officers in all 50 states and D.C. how they plan to handle Section 3 of Amendment 14. Many had a similar response to Scanlan’s: Look to the courts to figure it out.