Reporter's notebook: What inspired 8 WA voters to challenge Trump's presence on the primary ballot?
Last week, a challenge to former President Donald Trump's place on Washington's 2024 ballot was filed just before the state's deadline for voters to officially speak up. Frankey Ithaka, who is spearheading the effort for eight state voters, said that after hearing a segment on KUOW, they realized "the timeline was kind of tight."
Ithaka recently spoke with KUOW's Kim Malcolm about their challenge to Trump on the ballot, and noted that the idea initially started with another interview Malcolm aired a week prior. That interview was with Secretary of State Steve Hobbs, who commented that no Washington voters had filed any challenges around Trump, and the deadline was fast approaching.
"And given that any registered voter could make this challenge … I’m a registered voter," Ithaka said, adding that they didn't want to simply think someone else would do it and move on.
“It’s sort of like when you’re driving on the freeway and you see a burning house, and you think somebody else has called 911. I wanted to make sure somebody filed (a challenge).”
Ithaka argues that the issue surrounding Trump goes beyond political divides, and notes that similar challenges in other states have been filed by Republicans.
“When your own party is filing to make sure you don’t get on the ballot, because that’s how concerned they are about you being president again, that says something," Ithaka said. "That’s not just Democrats. That means something.”
The argument fueling these challenges is based on the 14th Amendment, which prohibits people who have engaged in insurrection from running for office. Challenges to placing Trump on the 2024 presidential ballot have been filed in 30 states, largely with the support of two left-of-center nonprofit groups — Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, and Free Speech for People. Some Republicans also have been behind the effort, though not exclusively.
Republican John Anthony Castro has filed challenges to placing Trump on the ballot in 27 states, according to The New York Times. Before this, in August 2023, two Conservative academics — William Baude with the University of Chicago, and Michael Paulsen with the University of St. Thomas — wrote a paper in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, promoting that the third section of the 14th Amendment should bar Trump from being on a presidential ballot, based on his actions on Jan. 6, 2021.
But not all conservatives agree with this argument. When Ithaka and the other voters who are currently challenging Trump's place on the 2024 ballot appeared in Kitsap County Superior Court to make their case, they were balanced out in the room by red MAGA hats. A representative from the Washington State Republican Party was also present on the side of the defendants.
The Kitsap judge ultimately denied hearing the case, saying that it should instead be heard in Thurston County where the state Capitol is located.