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Hawaii committee advances bill that could keep Trump off the ballot

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(The Center Square) – The Hawaii Senate Committee on Judiciary advanced a bill that would bar anyone who violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution from appearing on a ballot.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Karl Rhoads, who chairs the committee, does not state the candidate has to be convicted. Candidates removed can appeal to a district court.

The majority of people who attended a hearing on Tuesday opposed the bill. Former President Donald Trump is not mentioned in the bill, but some said he is the obvious target.

“There are only a few reasons why I can see why someone would desire this bill to go through–the belief that Mr. Trump might have a fighting chance to be elected as the Republican candidate and may even win the presidency,” said Rami Donahoe, who testified in opposition to the bill. “I can guarantee that he will not win in a blue state of Hawaii in the ’24 election. We all know this. But yet its seems like Sen. Rhoads may believe that Mr. Trump has a huge chance of winning.”

Others said the bill removes the voter’s right to choose their candidate.

“I implore you to reconsider the potential consequences of this legislation. We the people have a right to choose, it is not in the best interest of the government to decide what is best for the people,” said Tamara McKay, chairman of the Hawaiian Republican Party. “It is for the people to decide and that is why you were voted into office…for the people, by the people, and to abide by the Constitution of the United States of America.”

Rhoads said the bill does not apply just to Trump but could also apply to others. The Hawaii Office of Elections does not have a process in place if someone tries to challenge a candidate on a ballot, he said.

“Whether the (U.S.) Supreme Court decides in the next couple of weeks that Trump can be on the ballot or not, I still think it would be prudent to have a process for adjudicating these claims because the Office of Elections won’t do it themselves,” Rhoads said.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on Thursday in a Colorado challenge to Trump’s inclusion on the ballot there.

Sens. Brandon Elefante, a Democrat, voted to advance the bill. Sen. Joy San Buenaventura, also a Democrat, voted “yes” with reservations. Democrat Mike Gabbard and Republican Brenton Awa voted against the bill.