Majority of NYC councilmembers, all Democrats, say Trump shouldn’t be on NY ballot

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By Dan Sears

More than two dozen New York City councilmembers in a letter on Wednesday called on the state Board of Elections to withhold Donald J. Trump’s name from the state’s 2024 presidential primary and general election ballots.

The letter, signed by 29 councilmembers, all Democrats, represents a majority of the 51-member Council, and follows a similar effort initiated in December by members of the state Legislature. So far, 33 states have seen formal challenges to the former president, according to an analysis by The New York Times.

A spokesperson for the state Board of Elections said on Wednesday that she hadn’t seen the letter yet. The four BOE commissioners are evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. None immediately responded to an email seeking comment.

As with Colorado and Maine, two states that have blocked the former president from appearing on the ballot, the councilmembers argued that Trump was ineligible under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution “because he engaged in and aided an insurrection against the United States after swearing to uphold the Constitution as the nation’s president.”

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The New York City Council members said in the letter, “The Board of Elections must give effect to the Fourteenth Amendment and its safeguards to protect the integrity of New York’s electoral process, maintain the public’s faith in our democratic system, and respect the rule of law.”

Shekar Krishnan, a councilmember who represents Jackson Heights and Elmhurst, said he initiated the letter because Trump “led a violent, deadly attack against the U.S. Capitol and against our country to overturn an election.”

“The constitution bars him from running again,” said Krishnan in an interview. “He is fundamentally disqualified.”

A spokesman for the Trump campaign did not immediately respond to questions about the letter.

Other councilmembers have publicly opposed the effort.

Joann Ariola, a Republican councilmember in Queens, told the National Review the letter was “little more than political grandstanding, and a distraction from the array of serious issues facing New York City.” Joe Borelli, a Republican and the Council minority leader, said on X that the initiative “is just a way to suppress down-ballot races on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley. It’s just a trick to help take back the House.”

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Carlina Rivera, a councilmember in Manhattan who signed the letter, noted that the House of Representatives impeached Trump for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection.

“Mr. Trump’s long record of unscrupulous and corrupt behavior is shameful – and by provoking the violent attack on our nation’s capital, in an attempt to hold on to power following a legitimate democratic election, he should be prohibited from serving as president, per the 14th Amendment,” Rivera said in a statement.

Jerry Goldfeder, an election lawyer with 40 years of experience, said that elected officials, “like any citizen in New York state have every right to petition the board of elections on their views as to whether or not Donald J. Trump is a bona fide candidate.”

Goldfeder, a senior attorney at Cozen O’Connor law firm who wrote “Goldfeder’s Modern Election Law” and has represented Democrats, said the fact that Trump had “engaged and aided and abetted” in the insurrection “appears to disqualify him” from the ballot.

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“Unless and until the Supreme Court of the United States makes a ruling that the states don’t control their own ballots, citizens in the various states are free to challenge their candidacy.”

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