Who is Shenna Bellows? Maine secretary of state disqualifies Trump from ballot

Maine on Thursday became the second state to drop former President Donald Trump from its primary ballot based on the insurrectionist clause of the U.S. Constitution.

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In a ruling issued Thursday, Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said she determined Trump “is not qualified to hold the office of the President under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

The 14th Amendment bars people from holding public office if they have “engaged in insurrection” after swearing “as an officer of the United States … to support the Constitution.”

Who is Bellows? Here are some things to know:

She has served as Maine’s secretary of state since 2021 and earlier served in the state Senate.

Bellows is Maine’s 50th secretary of state and the first woman to hold the office. She began her first two-year term on Jan. 4, 2021.

Before that, from 2016 to 2020, Bellows represented 11 towns in southern Kennebec County in Maine’s Senate. She focused her time on addressing online privacy and voting issues and expanding internet access.

In 2020, she was a presidential elector in the Electoral College.

She was executive director of the ACLU of Maine and of the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine.

Before taking public office, Bellows served from 2005 to 2013 as executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine. Earlier, she was the national field organizer at the ACLU in Washington, D.C.

From 2018 to 2020, she operated the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine as its executive director.

She grew up in rural Maine.

Bellows grew up in Hancock with no electricity or running water until she was in the fifth grade, she said in 2021. Her father was a carpenter and her mother was a nurse who sometimes picked up night shifts at a local Christmas wreath factory.

Bellows lives in Manchester with her husband, Brandon.

She has spoken out about the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol before.

One month after a crowd descended on the U.S. Capitol as Congress was in session to formalize President Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election win, Bellows called the incident “an unlawful attempt to overthrow the results of a free and fair election.”

“The insurrectionists failed, and democracy prevailed,” she wrote, adding that Trump “should have been impeached.”

She found Trump ineligible for Maine’s primary ballot after hearing arguments on three challenges.

On Dec. 15, Bellows heard arguments from Maine voters who claimed that Trump is ineligible to run for president based on the events of Jan. 6, 2021, and on his insistence that he won the presidential election. One voter, an attorney and a witness for the challengers testified. Trump called no witnesses.

The former president called on Bellows to disqualify herself from ruling on the legality of his candidacy, accusing her of bias. She said she dismissed the motion as untimely, but that otherwise she “would have determined that I could preside over this matter impartially and without bias.”

“My decision is based exclusively on the record before me, and it has in no way been influenced by my political affiliation or personal views about the events of January 6, 2021,” she said.

Ultimately, she found that the Maine Legislature had given her the authority “to exclude candidates who fail to meet the qualifications set forth in the U.S. Constitution.”

“I am mindful that no Secretary of State has ever deprived a presidential candidate of ballot access based on Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment,” she said. “I am also mindful, however, that no presidential candidate has ever before engaged in insurrection. The oath I swore to uphold the Constitution comes first above all, and my duty under Maine’s election laws … is to ensure that candidates who appear on the primary ballot are qualified for the office they seek.”

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