GOP Lawmakers Propose Penalties For States That Disqualify Trump

Much of the 2024 election coverage in recent days has hinged on decisions in two states — Colorado and Maine — that could prevent former President Donald Trump’s name from appearing on their respective presidential primary ballots.

A state Supreme Court and Democratic Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, respectively, cited the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in making the widely disputed claim that Trump’s behavior ahead of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol Hill protest disqualified him under the so-called “insurrection clause.”

While the Trump campaign and state GOP leaders have challenged the decisions, a growing number of congressional Republicans are beginning to advance measures that would impose significant electoral penalties on states that prevent Trump’s name from appearing on ballots.

U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) offered his response, which included a proposed law that would add a provision onto the Electoral Count Act of 1887 specifying that “the vote of an elector of a State shall not be counted if, with respect to the election for President, the State did not include on the ballot in the State a candidate for President who was nominated by a major political party, and for other purposes.”

In other words, Colorado, Maine, or any other state aiming to prevent Trump from appearing on the ballot would have their electoral votes dismissed in determining the outcome of the general election.

“New law,” Higgins wrote in a social media post touting his proposal. “If any state in our Union blocks the official nominee of a major political party from the Presidential ballot, their electoral slate will not be counted by Congress on the following January 6th. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”

In the upper chamber, another GOP-backed proposal is being discussed.

“Maine’s Democrat Secretary of State just removed Trump from the ballot,” wrote U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC). “This is an egregious abuse of power and why I will be introducing the Constitutional Election Integrity Act as soon as Congress returns to session to stop these partisan officials and ensure any constitutional challenge is only decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Following the announcement of Bellows’ decision, Trump campaign spokesperson Steven Cheung issued a statement declaring: “We are witnessing, in real-time, the attempted theft of an election and the disenfranchisement of the American voter.”