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Chris Christie files appeal over failure to qualify for Maine primary

Republican presidential candidate former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NewsNation on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, at the Moody Music Hall at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Gerald Herbert
/
AP
Republican presidential candidate former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks during a Republican presidential primary debate hosted by NewsNation on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, at the Moody Music Hall at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The presidential campaign of former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is appealing a decision by Maine election officials denying him a spot on the Republican primary ballot.

Maine's secretary of state says Christie's campaign fell more than 1,100 signatures short of the 2,000 it needed to qualify for the March 5 primary. But in an appeal filed last week, Christie's campaign says they submitted more than 3,100 signatures before the late-November deadline but that he was denied because of a "minor administrative procedural requirement."

Based on the court filing, it appears that Christie's campaign was counting on municipal clerks to verify the signatures of voters not only in their own towns but also other municipalities.

But that is not how the process typically works in Maine. Instead, the law only requires that clerks certify signatures of voters from that town. Candidates are not prohibited from filing petition sheets with voters from multiple towns. But guidance from the secretary of state's office advises candidates to file separate petition forms for each municipality "for ease of municipal verification of voters."

In their appeal, attorneys for Christie suggest that clerks could have verified voters from other towns using the state's central voter registration system and that directing clerks to do such "would be an extremely low burden."

Six Republican candidates did qualify for the Republican presidential primary in Maine: Former President Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, Doug Burgum and Ryan Binkley.

Trump's participation in the March primary is being challenged by five individuals in three separate challenges filed last week. Two of those three challenges claim that the former president is ineligible to serve as president under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which bars anyone from holding public office if they have participated in an insurrection against the government.