Jul 8, 2022 - News

Democrats succeed in keeping N.C. Green Party off the ballot, for now

Illustration of a green checkmark turning into a green no symbol.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

North Carolina's Green Party has found itself in the headlines since the State Board of Elections denied its candidates the opportunity to be on November's ballot.

Driving the news: The majority Democratic elections board voted 3-2 to block the Green Party's certification last week, citing an ongoing investigation into fraudulent signatures on its petition to qualify as a political party.

  • The outrage that's followed has been driven largely by a powerful Democratic law firm's interference in that process.

Why it matters: The November midterms are already expected to be more favorable to Republicans, and a third party on the ballot — especially in the state's highly contested U.S. Senate race — could split votes for Democrats and give Republicans a larger advantage.

"What we're dealing with here is, in my opinion, a pretty blatant effort to keep us off the ballot just to protect the two-party system," the state Green Party's presumptive U.S. Senate candidate Matthew Hoh told The News & Observer.

Details: Since April, elections officials on both the local and state level have been looking into "irregularities" in the Green Party's submitted petitions, NCSBE spokesperson Pat Gannon said in an email to Axios.

  • On June 7, a powerful Democratic law firm, the Elias Law Group, submitted a public records request for information about the Green Party's petition, the state elections board said.
  • In the weeks following, a complainant represented by the firm submitted numerous letters and complaints, alleging many petition signatures were fraudulent.
  • Democrats also launched a campaign asking petition signers to remove their names, WRAL reported.

By the numbers: The Green Party collected more than 22,000 signatures. County boards validated 16,000 of those signatures — a little over 2,000 more than the party needed to be certified.

  • But elections officials on the state level are calling many of those signatures into question, and in May opened a criminal investigation into the petition, citing evidence of fraud. Gannon said specific individuals being investigated are responsible for more than 2,000 signatures.

What's next: The state elections board could still opt to grant the Green Party certification, but a court would need to order that it could be added to the ballot in November, given the deadline to certify has now passed.

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