(The Center Square) – Former President Donald Trump has scored a victory in his battle to be included on the primary ballot in Illinois.
The Illinois State Board of Elections voted 8-0 Tuesday to reject a challenge to Trump’s candidacy. Several Illinois voters contend that Trump encouraged the Jan. 6 violence at the U.S. Capitol during protests of the 2020 election results and the 14th Amendment would apply to him.
“He took a leading role in organizing, facilitating, supporting, directing and protecting a conservative armed and violent invasion, seizure and disruption of the United States Congress on January 6,” said attorney Matthew Piers, who represented the challengers.
Trump attorney Scott Gessler said the Illinois State Board of Elections doesn’t have the jurisdiction to decide a complex constitutional dispute.
“It simply does not give the board the authority to weigh into complicated, federal constitutional issues,” said Gessler.
Similar lawsuits have been dismissed on procedural grounds in Minnesota and other states.
After brief arguments last week, a hearing officer for the Illinois board said the ruling should be up to the courts rather than election officials to decide Trump’s eligibility. But the opinion from retired judge Clark Erickson concluded that a “preponderance of the evidence” presented showed that Trump did in fact engage in insurrection and should be barred from the ballot.
Board member Jack Vrett said he agreed that the board doesn’t have the jurisdiction to dive into a complex constitutional debate.
“There was wisdom I believe in the legislature when they created the election code that said what our authority was and what our authority wasn’t, and when we all took an oath to serve in this role, we would be violating that oath if we exceeded our authority and weighed into the constitutional question,” said Vrett.
The decision can be appealed in state courts, where judges could potentially remove Trump from the ballot based on the “insurrectionist ban.”
“Today’s decision by the Illinois State Board of Elections undermines our American system of democracy that is grounded in a recognition of the vote of the people as final,” said Jay Young, executive director of Common Cause Illinois.
The Illinois primary election is March 19.