Ruling: Trump to stay on primary ballot

Eight voters argued Jan. 6 actions made him ineligible

OLYMPIA — A Thurston County Superior Court judge on Thursday rejected a request from eight voters to remove Donald Trump from Washington’s presidential primary ballot.

Judge Mary Sue Wilson dismissed the legal challenge filed by the Kitsap County voters, who argued that the former president should be disqualified because he “engaged in an insurrection” and “attempted to overthrow the election of Joe Biden through violence.”

Their effort, like ones underway in other states, is based on Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which disqualifies government officials who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” from holding office.

They pinned their hopes on a provision in state law that says committing a “wrongful act” — which they contend is the insurrection — is enough reason for making a candidate ineligible.

But Wilson didn’t agree. In a ruling from the bench, she sided with arguments from the Attorney General’s Office that, because the presidential primary is a nominating process for the Democratic and Republican parties, the placing of names on the statewide ballot is a ministerial chore carried out by Secretary of State Steve Hobbs.

She said that, under state law, she could only remove a name from the ballot if it was clear that the election official made an error.

“Here the court determines that the Secretary of State acted consistent with his duties,” Wilson said. “An order from this court is simply not supported by the statutes and not supported by the affidavit of the electors.”

As a result, she said she was denying the request “to direct the Secretary of State to remove former president Donald J. Trump’s name from presidential primary ballots.”

Wilson’s decision doesn’t shut the door on electors’ efforts to keep Trump off Washington ballots in the November general.

Wilson declined to do so Thursday, saying “it is premature and under legal standards potentially not yet ripe.” When it is, she added, the Kitsap County electors or others might pursue similar issues related to the general election ballot.

That was acknowledgment that the U.S. Supreme Court in February will hear an appeal of a ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court to remove Trump’s name from that state’s primary ballot. The Colorado high court cited the provision of the 14th Amendment in disqualifying the former president.

The presidential primary is March 12. Counties must mail ballots to military and overseas voters by Jan. 27. They will be sent to voters in the state by Feb. 23, the start of the 18-day voting period.