Donald Trump

This Jan. 6, NY Democrats are vocal about removing Trump from the ballot, but decision remains with the BOE

New York City Council members and state lawmakers have written letters to the state Board of Elections urging them to exclude the former president.

On the three-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, New York lawmakers are calling on the state Board of Elections to exclude Donald Trump from the Republican primary ballot.

On the three-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, New York lawmakers are calling on the state Board of Elections to exclude Donald Trump from the Republican primary ballot. Brent Stirton/Getty Images

New York City Council members joined the push to get former President Donald Trump struck from the Republican primary ballot this week, sending a letter to the state Board of Elections urging the board to exclude Trump. While some have argued that doing so would unnecessarily inflame conservative voters in a key year for New York Democrats, City Council members stressed that Trump is a threat “the foundational ideals of democracy.” While other states have begun similar movements to get Trump off the ballot, New York’s lawmakers are still waiting on a decision from the state Board of Elections about whether he will appear. Once the BOE decides, there could be an official challenge to his likely GOP nomination. 

Jerry Goldfeder, a veteran election attorney, said that if someone lodges an official complaint to Trump’s nomination, the Board of Elections will have no choice but to act. 

“We have an objection process that once the board certifies him as a candidate and there are objections before the Board of Elections, the board has the authority to rule at that time and depending upon how they rule, then one party or the other can then go into court,” said Goldfeder. NY1 reported the state Board of Elections is expected to make their determination next month.

So far, New York Democrats have expressed their feelings in largely symbolic epistles. To have any effect on Trump’s candidacy, according to Goldfeder, the complaints would need to be filed with the state Board of Elections after Trump has been certified as a candidate for the upcoming primary. 

New York City Council members’ letter sent Wednesday mirrored a similar letter from state lawmakers from December. In both cases, lawmakers felt that the clause in the 14th Amendment of the Constitution disqualifying from public office anyone who had engaged in insurrectionist behavior applies to Trump given his actions during the deadly Capitol riots on Jan. 6, 2021.

Also according to Goldfeder, a conviction is not necessary for the amendment to apply.  

In Congress, the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol found that Trump’s call out to followers to respond to his election loss in force at the Capitol was the impetus for the riots and eventual deaths. 

As New Yorkers wait to see if Trump will be taken off the ballot in a few months, adding more chaos to an election year where district lines have yet to be redrawn and could be challenged in court once they are, many are waiting with bated breath for the outcome of a Supreme Court case tackling Trump’s legitimacy as a candidate.

In December, Colorado’s Supreme Court ruled that Trump be struck from the ballot in line with the 14th Amendment but Trump and his attorneys appealed that case to the Supreme Court, which has a conservative majority. Their ruling could preclude any hopes of state boards of elections striking Trump from ballots once he is certified for the GOP primary. 

John Bonifaz, president of Free Speech for People, a nonpartisan organization responsible for petitions calling for Trump’s removal from ballots, questioned the speed of New York’s Board of Election commissioners’ response to the letters. 

“The New York State Board of Elections has yet to follow up with us on this letter, but needs to address this critical question of whether they are going to move slower and allow a disqualified candidate to appear on their state ballot,” said Bonifaz. 

His organization has been involved with ballot removal efforts from Michigan to Maine and he added that with the House Select Committee’s report and testimony heard during Colorado’s 14th Amendment case, New York’s election commissioners have the necessary information to bar Trump from ballots. 

“I think with all that evidence combined, there is more than enough of a basis to demonstrate for the New York State Board of Elections that he is disqualified from holding future public office,” Bonifaz said. 

State Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal, a signatory to the December letter, agreed and said between the Supreme Court case and local efforts to get Trump disqualified, he was “hopeful but not overconfident.”

Hoylman-Sigal compared the situation to a “five-alarm fire” for democracy and added that in the face of fears that a Democratic attack on Trump’s ability to seek office would have a negative effect, party lines weren’t the crux of the issue. 

“This is hardly a deep blue state issue,” he said. “This is an issue that originated in a state that has routinely elected Republicans. And I think it transcends party affiliation.” 

If Americans and New Yorkers do nothing, Hoylman-Sigal warned Trump could end up on the ballot and “possibly win.”