The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday September 28th

N.C. Green Party to appear on the ballot in midterm elections after controversy

DTH Photo Illustration of the North Carollina Green Party website.
Buy Photos DTH Photo Illustration of the North Carollina Green Party website.

After allegations of fraud and a past denial of certification by the North Carolina State Board of Elections, the N.C. Green Party was recently certified as an official party and will appear on general election ballots for the 2022 midterms.

The NCSBE voted unanimously to recognize the Green Party on Aug. 1, according to a press release. The Board will be creating new voter registration forms that include the Green Party.

However, this certification did not automatically guarantee that the Green Party would appear on the Nov. 8 general election ballot. The deadline to submit nominees for this year’s elections was July 1, but the NCSBE denied the party on June 30 in a 3-2 vote. But an Aug. 5 decision by the U.S. District Court means the party will appear on the ballot. 

In the June decision, the board cited an ongoing investigation into "evidence of fraud and other irregularities in the petition process used to seek ballot access for the party," according to a June 30 press release.

How parties are certified in North Carolina

The process to be certified as a recognized political party in North Carolina requires that the party meet one of three criteria. The Green Party failed to fulfill two criteria — receiving 2 percent of the votes cast in the most recent general election or having a candidate on the general election ballot in at least 70 percent of the states in the most recent presidential election.

Because of this, it was forced to pursue the third option: petition process. This process required the party to create a petition that received signatures equal to at least 0.25 percent of those who voted in the most recent election for governor.

The Green Party was last recognized as a political party in 2021 after being added to the ballot in 2018, when the NCSBE changed the policy regarding political party certification. 

"Until 2018, I think there was a threshold of 90,000 signatures that you needed, which is not insubstantial — it would take a lot of effort to get 90,000 unique signatures," William Goldsmith, a UNC professor of public policy, said. "So it was very difficult for third parties to get on the ballot in North Carolina for many decades."

The Green Party's lawsuit

After its certification was denied in June, the Green Party filed a complaint in federal district court on July 21 against the NCSBE.

The Green Party’s complaint stated that it had complied with all the requirements to qualify as a new party, saying the Board was investigating unspecified allegations of fraud in petition signing for the certification.

"They provided no evidence, so how can we defend ourselves against it," Michael Trudeau, secretary of the state Green Party and candidate for District 16 in the North Carolina Senate, said. 

The NCSBE did not respond to The Daily Tar Heel's request for comment by the time of publication. 

The party's complaint also included a section stating that petition signers for the Green Party began receiving texts and phone calls requesting they remove their names from the certification petitions.

In the complaint, the Green Party said some individuals who identified themselves as part of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said the Green Party "takes votes" from Democrats. The Green Party added that others falsely claimed to be members of the Green Party. 

The complaint further alleged that a law firm with close ties to the Democratic Party and a legal intern in the office of Gov. Roy Cooper submitted separate public records requests about the Green Party using the same wording. 

"I'm not suggesting we know anything more than that, but it certainly seems like more than a coincidence that public records requests would be filed using the exact same language," Oliver Hall, one of the Green Party's lawyers, said. 

The N.C. Democratic Party did not respond to the DTH's requests for comment. 

Rejoining the ballot

On Aug. 5, four days after the NCSBE certified the Green Party, the U.S. District Court ruled in favor of the party, stating that it must be allowed to appear on the ballot in November. 

The Green Party will be placing two candidates on the ballot according to the document: Matthew Hoh, a U.S. Senate candidate, and Trudeau.

Trudeau said the Green Party is a left-wing, anti-capitalist alternative to the Democratic and Republican parties. He said some specific policies the party calls for are free public higher education, decriminalization of drug use, decrease of the military budget and implementation of universal health care. 

"We are a social justice, racial justice and ecological and environmental justice platform and think that all those issues are intertwined and you can't have some without the others," he said. 

Goldsmith said that while he does not think that the Green Party will gain traction in North Carolina, the additional party on the ballot could split the vote for Democratic candidates.

"Anytime we have these very narrow races, there is always the chance that, however few the votes might be that would go to the Green Party, that it would be enough to affect the outcome of the election," he said.

Trudeau added that the Green Party held a rally after the ruling to celebrate the district court's decision. He said that, despite the success, he thinks the reputation of the Green Party has already been damaged because of allegations of fraud, which he denied.

@_elizabethegan

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com


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