IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Secretaries of state get ready for possible challenges to Trump's ballot access

Arizona’s secretary of state is the latest to say his office is grappling with the potential effects of a move to block Trump from the ballot.
Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes in Phoenix on Jan. 5, 2023.
Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes in Phoenix on Jan. 5.Ross D. Franklin / AP file

Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes said Tuesday that his office is figuring out how to handle potential complaints over whether former President Donald Trump should be disqualified from appearing on the 2024 ballot. 

The issue centers on the 14th Amendment, which prohibits people who have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” from holding public office. Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson raised the theory at last week’s GOP presidential debate that Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6, 2021, might disqualify him on those grounds — a theory that has gained traction among some legal scholars, though others discount the possibility. 

Now, the people running state elections are trying to figure out what to do if people bring legal challenges against Trump.

“We have to have a final certification of eligible candidates [for the primary ballot] by Dec. 14 for Arizona’s presidential preference election,” Fontes, a Democrat elected last year, told NBC News. “And because this will ultimately end up in court, we are taking this very seriously.” 

New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan is dealing with the same question as he watches a potential challenge to Trump brewing in his state. There, a Republican former Trump ally is considering bringing a 14th Amendment challenge against him. 

“We need to run an election,” Fontes said. “We need to know who is eligible, and this is of incredible national interest. We aren’t taking a position one way or the other.

“If there are people who want to fight this out, they need to start swinging, because I have an election to run,” Fontes added. 

Scanlan of New Hampshire made the same point Monday — that he is “not seeking to remove any names from the presidential primary ballot” but is trying to figure out what to do about potential challenges that are brewing.