The Illinois State Board of Elections voted unanimously Tuesday to dismiss a challenge to former President Donald Trump’s candidacy, but the decision is not expected to be the final word in the matter, with an appeal all but assured.
The panel voted 8-0 on a bipartisan basis to dismiss the challenge, finding that it didn’t have jurisdiction to adjudicate a complex constitutional dispute involving the 14th Amendment.
The decision can be appealed in state courts, where judges could potentially remove Trump from the ballot based on the “insurrectionist ban” that was ratified after the Civil War.
The election panel accepted a recommendation from retired Judge Clark Erickson, who presided over an evidentiary hearing last week and concluded that the board isn’t legally empowered to undertake a complex constitutional analysis of Trump’s potential culpability in the January 6, 2021, Capitol riot.
However, Erickson, a Republican, also concluded that, based on the evidence presented at the hearing, Trump did engage in the January 6 insurrection and the 14th Amendment would apply to him. He said state courts – which have more power than the election board – should decide Trump’s eligibility.
Matthew Piers, a lawyer for the anti-Trump challengers, had urged the panel to bar Trump from the ballot, saying the former president “took a leading role in organizing, facilitating, supporting, directing and protecting a concerted, armed and violent invasion, seizure, and disruption of the United States Congress on January 6th, as the members of that body were gathering to fulfill their constitutional duty of certifying the electoral votes.”
Trump attorney Adam Merrill, however, urged the state board to keep Trump on the 2024 ballot, pushing back against the findings from Erickson.
During the roll-call vote, board member Catherine McCrory, a Republican, made a forceful statement against Trump, blaming him for the insurrection but saying the panel didn’t have the authority to remove him from the ballot.
“This Republican believes there was an insurrection on January 6,” McCrory said. “There is no doubt in my mind that he manipulated, instigated, aided and abetted an insurrection on January 6. However, having said that, it is not my place to rule on that today. So, I will say ‘yes’ to the motion as far as not having jurisdiction to rule on that fact today.”
Several Illinois voters filed the challenge against Trump, arguing that the state should join Colorado and Maine in removing him from their 2024 presidential ballots. The decisions in those other states were paused pending the outcome of Trump’s appeal of the Colorado case to the US Supreme Court.
Similar lawsuits have been dismissed on procedural grounds in Michigan, Minnesota and other states. Trump has decried the cases as an abuse of the legal system by partisans who can’t beat him at the polls.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the vote tally by the Illinois State Board of Elections. It has also been updated with additional details and reaction.
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