The Green Party of North Carolina alleges that Democrats are trying to keep them off the ballot in November’s elections for a partisan political advantage, to prevent Green candidates from splitting the progressive vote and facilitating Republican victories.
Most notably, in what is expected to be a tight race for an open Senate seat, a Green candidate could give Republican Ted Budd the edge he needs to beat Democrat Sheri Beasley.
The Greens suggest that Democrats are worried about progressive candidates in past presidential elections, like Ralph Nader in 2000 and Jill Stein in 2016, contributing toward Republican victories. Democrats however deny any inappropriate partisanship in the electoral process.
The Green Party must petition to be placed on the ballot because the Party was unable to garner more than 2% of the popular vote in the Presidential and Gubernatorial elections in 2020. While only 13,865 signatures are required, the Greens were able to collect more than 22,000, nearly 16,000 of which were validated by the county boards of elections.
Nonetheless, the Democratic dominated State Board of Elections is not satisfied. The Board points to numerous “irregularities”, including incomplete information provided with signatures, similar handwriting for different signatures, duplicated names and the names of people who are deceased. Previously validated signatures are now under review. The Board maintains that these concerns must be properly investigated, even though an investigation may not be completed before the deadline for preparing the ballots. The Green Party has already missed the July 1 deadline to nominate candidates.
The Greens admit that about 200 signatures were not legitimate, but insist that there is no evidence of systemic fraud. They argue that there will be problems with any petition. The Greens are suspicious that their petition was rejected on partisan lines, with the three Democrats on the Board voting to reject and the two Republicans voting to allow the petition.
The Greens also suspect Democratic involvement in efforts to have signatories remove their names from the petition. They point to suspicious phone calls by people claiming to be from the Green Party urging petitioners to withdraw their support because a Green candidate would only assist the Republicans.
Now the only way for the Greens to be on the ballot would be through a court order or legislative action. As the State General Assembly adjourned on July 1, the Green Party hopes are vested in a lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina against the State Board of Elections. The Party alleges that the Board denied due process rights by rejecting the petition without first giving notice of any concerns and allowing the Greens to respond and defend the integrity of the petitioning process.
Attorney for the North Carolina Greens, Oliver Hall, explains that, “[W]e filed this case to protect the right of all North Carolina voters to vote in a free and fair election, not the Democrats’ attempt to win by suppressing voter choice.”
Matthew Hoh, the Green Party’s unofficial Senate candidate, states even more emphatically: “[W]e are fighting for our democracy against this corrupt, lawless, and partisan decision by the State Board of Elections. This case will determine whether the political establishment can abuse its power to stop another party from participating in elections.”