Should the people of Maine decide whether Donald Trump is on the primary ballot? Should Secretary of State Shenna Bellows be impeached? These are the wrong questions to be asking in our democracy.

The duties of Maine’s secretary of state include ensuring that candidates who appear on the primary ballot are qualified for the office they seek. With petitions challenging the qualifications of former President Trump under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, the secretary of state was required to act. Section 3 prohibits potential candidates from holding public office if they have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States. With multiple court cases underway focused on whether Trump obstructed official proceedings for the November 2020 election, it would be difficult to establish with confidence whether Trump was qualified to appear on the primary ballot. Maine’s secretary of state faced an impossible task.

Is Section 3 relevant for today’s elections given that it was originally conceived to keep former Confederates from holding public office? Does the disqualification clause apply to the presidency? What criteria should be used to determine whether a politician participated in or encouraged a rebellion against the government? These are valid questions.

Our democracy is based on the rule of law, which restricts the arbitrary exercise of power and ensures that no one is above the law. If elected officials or citizens disagree with the recent decision, an appeal for court review could be warranted. Personal attacks and calls to bypass established procedures are not.

Dawn Roberts
South Portland

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