Green Party sues North Carolina Board of Elections over rejection of petition

Written by HANNAH SCHOENBAUM


The North Carolina Green Party on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the state Board of Elections over the council’s refusal to allow party candidates to run in the November ballot.

The court case, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, alleges the council violated the Green Party’s right to due process by dismissing the petition without notice or an opportunity for the party to defend the integrity of its process of petition.

“We are fighting for our democracy against this corrupt, lawless and partisan decision by the State Board of Elections,” said Matthew Hoh, unofficial Green Party candidate for the US Senate. “This case will determine whether the political establishment can abuse its power to prevent another party from participating in the elections.

Photo via North Carolina Green Party.

Two weeks ago, the board rejected the party’s request to appear on the ballot, saying its decision was based on an investigation that questioned the validity of more than 2,000 signatures. After county election commissions validated just under 16,000 of more than 22,000 signatures submitted by the Green Party — apparently exceeding the requirement of 13,865 signatures — state council executive director Karen Brinson Bell, said several county officials had identified irregularities.

At a board meeting last month, she cited examples of petition sheets with nearly identical handwriting, incomplete personal information, duplicate names and deceased signers.

The Green Party said the Democratic-led 3-2 vote was a politically motivated decision. Green Party certification could divide progressive voters and pave the way for GOP victories in key races, including the close U.S. Senate race between Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican U.S. Representative Ted Budd.

Bell said Thursday that some previously validated signatures are currently being reviewed. The state board heard that several county councils failed to properly verify the signatures they received. They were ordered to do so by July 29, giving the state board ample time to reevaluate the Green Party’s certification bid before the ballot printing deadline.

However, the investigation has already led the Green Party to miss a July 1 deadline to nominate candidates – a point of contention between the two Republican board members who voted in favor of certification and the three Democrats. who voted in opposition.

The only way for Green Party candidates to stand in the November ballot would now be a court order or legislative action by the General Assembly, which concluded its business session on July 1, according to the state council.

The lawsuit also alleges that Democratic Party operatives interfered with the petition campaign, seeing multiple examples of signers who said they received phone calls and text messages from people posing as Green Party representatives.

“We filed this case to protect the right of all North Carolina voters to vote in free and fair elections, not the Democrats’ attempt to win by suppressing voter choice,” said attorney Oliver Hall. of the Green Party.

Ahead of last month’s vote, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee acknowledged contacting the signatories of the Green Party petition to ask them to withdraw their signatures. The DSCC is working to elect Beasley and other Democrats across the country.

Texts sent by the committee to signatories warned that the Green Party could spoil the efforts of Beasley and other Democrats, giving Republicans “a huge advantage that will help them win North Carolina in 2022 and 2024.”

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