In a statement on X Thursday (formerly Twitter) Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, D-Wake, announced that he intends to file legislation that would empower the North Carolina State Board of Elections with the authority to remove a presidential candidate from voter ballots under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution.
Chaudhuri is the Democratic Whip and a vocal member of leadership for the minority party in the North Carolina Senate. In an eleven-part social media post, he shared draft legislation that would modify existing law to extend the authority of the NCSBE to rule on a challenge to candidacy based on the 14th Amendment. The law states that the challenge “must be made in a verified affidavit by a challenger based on reasonable suspicion or belief of the facts stated.”
Chaudhuri made clear in his post that his proposal is linked to Thursday’s hearing at the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court is hearing arguments on Colorado’s effort to disqualify former President Donald Trump from the state’s presidential ballot. Trump has not be charged or convicted of the “insurrection” that plaintiffs in this case allege.
As reason for his proposal, Chaudhuri points to a December 20, 2023 decision from the NCSBE. In a 4 to 1 vote, the board determined that it did not have the statutory authority to remove Trump from North Carolina’s ballot. The vote was in response to a complaint filed by Brian Martin of Stokes County asking the board to disqualify Trump.
North Carolina’s State Board of Election is partisan, with the majority appointed by the state’s governor which, in this case, is Democratic Governor Roy Cooper. The legislature passed a law in 2023 to make the state elections board non-partisan by splitting the appointments between the majority and minority legislative leaders. Cooper vetoed it in September of 2023, and his veto was overridden by the Republican-led legislature the next month. Cooper then asked the courts to intervene, saying it interferes with the executive branch powers. In November, a three judge panel blocked the law until a trial could proceed.
In December, Sen. Thom Tillis announced that he would file federal legislation barring state’s from taking such action. The Constitutional Election Integrity Act clarifies that the United States Supreme Court has sole jurisdiction to decide claims arising out of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution. If approved, the legislation would withhold federal funding for election administration from states that misapply the 14th Amendment for political purposes.
The North Carolina Senate is scheduled to convene on Wednesday February 14, 2024.