The Illinois State Board of Elections (SBE) will hold a vote this month to decide whether to remove former President Donald Trump from the state’s GOP primary ballot after a handful of voters filed a petition claiming he disqualified himself from holding public office.
The petition, similar to those filed in more than a dozen other states, cites the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits anyone from holding office who previously has taken an oath to defend the Constitution and then later “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the country or given “aid or comfort” to its enemies.
The 87-page document was signed by five people from across the state and claims that Trump encouraged and supported those who took part in the Capitol protests on January 6, 2021.
The SBE is now forced to decide whether Trump will remain an option for Republican voters during the March 19 primary.
Matt Dietrich, a spokesperson for the Illinois SBE, told Fox News Digital that the case will be assigned to a hearing officer during a special board meeting on January 17. The hearing officer, Dietrich said, is usually an election lawyer, retired judge or a retired member of the Illinois SBE’s executive staff.
The hearing officer will be tasked with scheduling hearings on the objection with both parties and providing a recommendation to the SBE’s general counsel. Dietrich said the general counsel will then, in turn, make a recommendation on the matter to the full board, which will hear the case on January 30.
“Ultimately the eight appointed members of the Illinois State Board of Elections – four Democrats and four Republicans – sitting as the State Officers Electoral Board vote on objections,” Dietrich explained. “Five votes are required for a board order to take effect, so in the event of a 4-4 vote, no action is considered taken and the objection fails. However, both the objector and candidate have the right to seek judicial review of an unfavorable ruling, so it is possible that any objection may go before the courts.”
The primary ballots will be certified by the Illinois SBE at its next meeting on Jan. 11.
“Assuming nothing completely unexpected happens between today and then, Trump (and any other presidential candidate who has an objection filed against them) will be certified to the ballot with ‘objection pending’ next to their name,” Dietrich said.
That status, however, could change depending on the board’s Jan. 30 vote, Dietrich noted, adding that if it does, the board will issue an amended certification of the ballot.
Reacting to the attempt to bar Trump from appearing on the state’s GOP primary ballot, Illinois Republican Party Chairman Don Tracy told Fox News Digital, “We believe the people, not activist courts, should choose who represents them in the White House.”
Noting that the Illinois GOP is “strictly neutral in the Republican presidential primary,” Tracy said the “attempt to remove President Trump from the ballot without due process is an anti-democracy attempt to limit the voting rights of Illinois citizens and should be dismissed outright.”
The Illinois Democratic Party did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on the matter.
Dietrich said that objections to presidential candidates who filed for the state’s primary ballot can be filed until 5 p.m. on Jan. 12.
Several candidates had petitions filed this week to appear on the state’s Republican and Democrat presidential primary ballots, including incumbent President Biden, Trump, former South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, and Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Candidates who filed first thing Thursday, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, earned a chance for the top ballot spot. Candidates who waited until 4 p.m. Friday to file earned a chance for the bottom spot.
Officials in Colorado and Maine have already banned Trump’s name from primary election ballots. Trump asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to overturn the Colorado Supreme Court ruling from December that stripped his name from the state’s ballot.
In a statement to Fox News, Trump’s team said that if he is prevented from being on the Colorado ballot, it would be the first time in history such a thing has happened.
“Over 74 million Americans voted for President Trump in the 2020 general election, including more than 1.3 million voters in the State of Colorado,” Trump’s team said.
“Yet, on December 19, 2023, the Colorado Supreme Court ordered President Trump removed from the presidential primary ballot — a ruling that, if allowed to stand, will mark the first time in the history of the United States that the judiciary has prevented voters from casting ballots for the leading major-party presidential candidate.”
Following the filing of Trump’s appeal, it was revealed Friday evening that the high court would take up the case and set arguments for Feb. 8.
On Tuesday, Trump appealed the decision to remove him from Maine’s Republican primary ballot. That appeal now heads to the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine.
Fox News’ Sarah Rumpf-Whitten, Louis Casiano, Bill Mears, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.