Depending on the decisions of U.S. courts, former President Donald Trump won’t appear on 2024 primary ballots in Maine and Colorado — recent developments that have led to threats against top election officials in those states.
Trump is the GOP’s front-runner to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden — who is seeking reelection next year — despite the Republican’s ongoing criminal cases and arguments that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution disqualifies him from holding office again because he incited the January 6, 2021 insurrection.
In response to Maine voters formally challenging Trump’s eligibility under the 14th Amendment, Democratic Secretary of State Shenna Bellows barred him from the primary ballot on Thursday — though she suspended the decision until courts rule on any appeal, and his campaign plans to file one. A day later, her home was “swatted.”
“We should be able to agree to disagree on important issues without threats and violence.”
“We are away for the holiday weekend. We were not home yesterday when threats escalated, and our home address was posted online,” Bellows explained on Facebook Saturday. “It was a good thing because our home was swatted last night. That’s when someone calls in a fake emergency to evoke a strong law enforcement response to scare the target. Swatting incidents have resulted in casualties although thankfully this one did not.”
“This behavior is unacceptable,” she declared. “The nonstop threatening communications the people who work for me endured all day yesterday is unacceptable. It’s designed to scare not only me but also others into silence, to send a message.”
After a hoax emergency call in which an individual claimed he had broken into the secretary’s residence on Friday night, Maine State Police “conducted an investigation of the exterior and interior of the home at Bellows’ request,” News Center Maine reported, citing state Department of Public Safety spokesperson Shannon Moss.
“Moss said nothing suspicious was found,” the outlet noted. “The incident is still under investigation, and Moss said no further information will be released at this time.”
Along with slamming the swatting, Bellows on Saturday called out “extraordinarily dehumanizing fake images” of her recently posted online, including by the Maine Wire: “These dehumanizing images and threatening communications directed at me and people I love are dangerous. We should be able to agree to disagree on important issues without threats and violence.”
Colorado Democratic Secretary of State Jena Griswold has also faced mounting threats since the Colorado Supreme Court earlier this month disqualified Trump from the state’s primary ballot — a decision that is expected to be swiftly reviewed by the right-wing majority U.S. Supreme Court, to which the ex-president appointed three justices.
“Within three weeks of the lawsuit being filed, I received 64 death threats. I stopped counting after that,” Griswold said Saturday on social media. “I will not be intimidated. Democracy and peace will triumph over tyranny and violence.”
Griswold also shared a recent HuffPost interview in which she discussed threats against her from Trump supporters.
“I’ve been concerned about violence and threats of violence since Donald Trump incited the insurrection,” said Griswold, who has been Colorado’s secretary of state since 2019. “I’ve received hundreds if not thousands of threats at this point.”
“So yes, I’m extremely concerned,” she told HuffPost. “It just underlines that Donald Trump is a major threat to American democracy, elections, and stability. He uses threats and intimidation against his political opponents. When he doesn’t win elections, he tries to steal them. He is a dangerous leader for this country.”
Griswold also pointed out that she is part of the case that got Trump kicked off the ballot in Colorado because of her role, but she didn’t file the suit — it was brought by a watchdog group and legal team representing GOP and unaffiliated voters.
Griswold further explained in an MSNBC appearance on Friday that “in Maine, the secretary of state makes determinations like this. By the way, in Colorado, I would also be in the place of making a determination if a lawsuit wasn’t filed so early.”
“But in Maine, I think Shenna Bellows made the right decision in agreement with the Colorado Supreme Court,” she said. “Donald Trump incited an insurrection to try to steal the presidency from the American people. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment makes it very clear that elected officials can’t do that and then serve in office again.”
“I don’t believe there should be some loophole in the Constitution that puts only Donald Trump above the law and Constitution when he incites rebellion or incites an insurrection,” she continued. “The other thing I would say is I do think Secretary Bellows is brave and courageous.”
“She is the first individual by herself having to make this decision,” Griswold noted. “And we are acutely aware of the threat environment that we work in. So I commend her for her actions and we’ll see how the litigation inevitably plays out in the state of Maine.”