A judge has affirmed the decision by the Maine secretary of state that former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie did not submit the necessary number of signatures needed to qualify for the Republican presidential primary election and shouldn’t appear on the March 5 ballot.

Christie’s campaign had appealed Secretary of State Shenna Bellow’s ruling by arguing that the Augusta City Clerk’s Bureau had a rushed process and didn’t verify all the signatures it could have when reviewing petitions the campaign submitted.

Election 2024 Christie

Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie delivers a speech about drug addiction at Hope on Haven Hill on Wednesday, in Rochester, N.H. Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

The campaign also said municipal registrars in several communities had misapplied state statute by not verifying signatures that were submitted from residents in other towns.

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows ruled that Christie’s campaign they fell short of the 2,000 signatures needed to get on the ballot, while Christie asked the court to issue new guidance to registrars so that previously excluded signatures could be counted.

In a ruling issued Thursday, Kennebec County Superior Court Justice Julia Lipez sided with Bellows. “The secretary rejected his petition because Mr. Christie failed to meet the signature threshold established by Maine law. … The court affirms the secretary’s decision,” Lipez wrote.

“We appreciate that the court upheld the integrity of Maine’s well-established ballot access requirements,” Bellows said in a prepared statement. “Every candidate, including presidential candidates, must follow the law to qualify for the ballot. We are glad that the court recognized that Maine law is workable and fair to all.”


Earlier this month, Christie’s campaign said that it had collected and submitted over 6,000 signatures from Maine voters and that Bellows’ decision that he didn’t qualify was “simply a procedural issue with the way they reviewed signatures.”

When asked about a possible appeal, a campaign spokesperson said on Friday that it disagrees with the court’s decision and is evaluating its options. According to state law, the decision could be appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, but a notice of appeal must be filed within three days of the Superior Court’s decision.

Christie also could run as a write-in candidate, but would have to file with the secretary of state’s office by Tuesday to do so.

In her order, Lipez said Maine law is clear that state statute does not allow a municipal registrar to certify the signatures of voters from other towns and cities, and that the secretary of state’s office had issued clear guidance to candidates about how to gather and submit signatures.

“The secretary argues that there was no error because Maine law unambiguously places the burden on a candidate and his circulators to submit petition forms to the municipalities of each voter signing the petition,” Lipez wrote. “The court agrees with the secretary’s position.”

Lipez also said the Augusta clerk had complied with statutory duties and that Christie didn’t have enough evidence to support his claim about errors in the process.


And even if additional signatures had been verified in Augusta, there still weren’t enough submitted to that municipality to get Christie to the 2,000-signature threshold, Lipez said.

Maine’s presidential primary is March 5. Democrats will choose between President Biden and U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, of Minnesota.

Republicans who qualified for the ballot are former President Donald Trump; North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum; Ryan Binkley, a Texas businessman and pastor; Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis; former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley; and Vivek Ramaswamy, a biotech entrepreneur from Ohio.

Burgum has announced that he has suspended his campaign, but has not asked to be removed from the Maine ballot, a spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office said.

Bellows is currently evaluating three challenges to Trump’s ballot access and is expected to rule on them early next week.

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