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New York state elections board allows Trump on GOP primary ballot

ALBANY, N.Y. — The New York State Board of Elections on Tuesday granted former President Donald Trump a spot on the state’s GOP presidential primary ballot, allowing him access two days before the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a mammoth case determining his ballot eligibility nationwide.

The two Republican commissioners on the state Board of Elections approved Trump’s ballot line in a brief meeting at the board’s Albany offices. The bipartisan board has four members, but its two Republicans have control over eligibility decisions for GOP presidential candidates.

The Republicans on the board, Peter Kosinski and Anthony Casale, said they had received correspondence urging them to keep Trump off the ballot, but that their decision was confined to state rules on ballot access based on candidates’ national prominence and campaign finances.

“While we understand the opinions shared in these letters, the matter before this board is confined to the law for ballot access in New York State,” Casale said.

The decision came after two states, Maine and Colorado, acted to remove the former president from their Republican primary ballots this winter. The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear oral arguments in the Colorado case on Thursday.

In late December, Colorado’s top court disqualified Trump from the state’s ballot, finding in a 4-3 decision that Trump is not eligible to return to the presidency due to his role in the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack at the U.S. Capitol.

On Jan. 6, Trump gave an incendiary speech to supporters massed on the Ellipse, baselessly asserting he had won the 2020 presidential election “in a landslide” and urging his supporters to “fight like hell” and “take back our country.” His supporters later barged into the U.S. Capitol building, overwhelming police officers.

The Colorado court was the first court of its kind to accept the argument that Trump’s relationship with Jan. 6 runs afoul of a constitutional provision barring people from holding office if they violate an oath to the Constitution by engaging in insurrection. Maine’s secretary of state reached the same conclusion, and also barred Trump from the ballot in December.

On Tuesday, City Councilman Shekar Krishnan of Queens and state Sen. Brad Hoylman of Manhattan, two Democrats, filed objections with the Board of Elections in opposition to Trump’s placement on the New York ballot.

“Donald Trump engaged in an insurrection against the United States of America,” Krishnan said by phone. “The 14th Amendment clearly states that no one can hold the office of the presidency who has engaged in a national insurrection.”

Elections officials and judges in other states, including deep-blue California, have turned back challenges to Trump’s eligibility. The eyes of the nation are to fall on the Supreme Court on Thursday as it reviews the question.

Court watchers have expressed skepticism that the nation’s top court would sweep the 45th president off the ballot. But it is unclear how the court might address the novel and high-stakes question.

Perhaps not since Bush v. Gore, the 2000 case in which the court reviewed the fate of a recount in Florida in the presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore, has the Supreme Court heard such a politically explosive case.

If the court were to remove Trump from the ballot, or to allow him to be removed in some states, it could supercharge the candidacy of his one remaining Republican rival, former Gov. Nikki Haley. She has pledged to keep up her fight after losing to Trump in Iowa and New Hampshire but is far behind in the polls.

Haley’s spot on New York’s Republican ballot was also approved Tuesday.

New Yorkers are not due to vote in this year’s Republican primary until April 2, and it is unclear if Trump will still have a challenger in a month. If Trump’s ballot status is reaffirmed and he continues to hold yawning leads over Haley, she may face growing pressure to drop out.

Trump maintains modest leads over Biden nationally, according to polling. In 2020, Biden beat Trump by 74 electoral votes and more than 7 million votes in the popular vote.

Trump insists that he won, claiming the election was rigged against him, but independent reviews have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud or election rigging.