Albany Agenda

Democratic legislators seek to remove Trump from the ballot

State Sens. Brad Hoylman-Sigal, Liz Krueger, Gustavo Rivera, Tim Kennedy and Shelley Mayer want to kick the former president off next year's ticket for inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the New York Young Republican Club Gala on Saturday.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the New York Young Republican Club Gala on Saturday. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Democratic state legislators are calling on the state Board of Elections to bar former President Donald Trump from voter ballots in 2024 in light of his actions during the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

State Sens. Brad Hoylman-Sigal, Liz Krueger, Gustavo Rivera, Tim Kennedy and Shelley Mayer, in a letter sent to the board on Thursday, made the case for removing Trump by placing the blame for the insurrection squarely on the Republican, now running for the presidency once again.

 “The January 6 insurrection was a violent uprising against the United States that tragically resulted in loss of multiple lives. That dark day in our nation’s history was led, facilitated, and encouraged by Trump. The Board must not allow those who participated to run again for office against the mandate of the Constitution,” the letter states. 

The letter states that under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution Trump is ineligible to run for office due to his alleged involvement in the riots on Jan. 6 which led to several deaths. It adds that should the New York State Board of Elections allow his name to appear on the ballot it would be breaking the law because its officers are using their positions to subvert the Constitution. 

A spokesperson for the board was not immediately available for comment. 

University at Buffalo School of Law professor James A. Gardner thought the legal challenge lawmakers put forward had merit. 

Although Gardner, who specializes in election and constitutional law said, “There is one pragmatic issue, which is how the board would determine whether Trump engaged in insurrection within the meaning of Section 3.  What kind of fact-finding would the board have to do?  Would it have to hold an evidentiary hearing?  Would Trump be entitled to defend his eligibility at such a hearing?” 

But such questions,  he added, “are incidental issues, easily resolved.”

When asked if such a request would unnecessarily inflame right-leaning voters in a high-stakes election year for Democrats, Hoylman-Sigal said holding Trump accountable was too important.

“I think the question is what's the future of our democracy, should we allow not just Donald Trump on the ballot but a candidate like him who expressed absolutely no remorse for the events of that dark day,” the state senator told City & State, 

Even though Trump lost New York in 2020 with just 37.8% of the vote, Hoylman-Sigal said, “we can not just sit on the sidelines and hope for the best.”

The New York Republican Committee took issue with the idea of striking Trump from the ballot. “Whether it’s an illegal gerrymander, letting illegal immigrants vote or trying to kick their opponents off the ballot, New York Democrats have repeatedly demonstrated that they would rather cheat than compete,” the committee said in a statement. 

As Trump is expected to be the Republican nominee next November barring a shocking surge in the polls from Florida Gov. Ron Desantis or former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, his forced absence from the ballot would be jarring to many voters. 

Political consultant Hank Sheinkopf said he thinks even talk of removing Trump from the ballot would be an unforced error. 

“They should just give the Republicans more money to register more voters because more people are going to vote Republican,” Sheinkopf said. 

According to him such a proposal is, “called thinking like a Manhattanite when the rest of the state is not.”

Given the growing discontent, Sheinkopf said, that suburban voters have with New York City based policies, to remove Trump like this would mean trouble. 

“It's a slap in the face to anybody that believes in the democratic process,” he added. “In other words, if you don't like the guy just strike him from the ballot right?”

The signatories of the letter, however, insist that it’s of the utmost importance that, “Trump’s name does not appear on the New York ballot.”