Waiting on Supreme Court, States Go It Alone in Trump Ballot Cases

When the U.S. Supreme Court agreed in January to hear an appeal of a Colorado ruling that disqualified former President Donald J. Trump from that state’s primary ballot, many thought the court would soon resolve the issue for the entire country.

That sense only grew after oral arguments in early February, when justices across the ideological spectrum appeared skeptical of the reasoning used to disqualify Mr. Trump.

But three weeks have passed, Mr. Trump has solidified his lead in the race for the Republican presidential nomination and, with Super Tuesday looming, there remains no nationally binding answer to questions that strike at the heart of American democracy: Did a major political party’s likely nominee participate in insurrection? If he did, does that disqualify him from running for president?

The uncertainty from the Supreme Court has left states to go it alone, with divergent results that have left some voters confused. On Wednesday in Illinois, a Democratic state judge disqualified Mr. Trump from the state’s primary ballot, a decision that she stayed until Friday to give Mr. Trump time to appeal. By Thursday morning, Republicans were calling the clerk’s office in McLean County, in central Illinois, unsure of what it all might mean for them. After all, early balloting in the March primary was already underway.

“They were mad — not terribly angry, but upset — with what was going on and they didn’t know what it meant,” said Kathy Michael, the county clerk, who is a Republican. “One had already early voted. One had voted by mail. And they asked, ‘The question now is, will my vote count?’”

Without federal guidance, the nation’s patchwork of rules and deadlines has left local judges and election officials to weigh complex constitutional issues. This week, the Indiana Election Commission voted 3 to 1 to reject a challenge to Mr. Trump’s eligibility, though one Democratic member said she believed that Mr. Trump had participated in insurrection and should be removed from the ballot.

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