The State Board of Elections on Thursday voted not to recognize the Green Party as an official political party in North Carolina, citing an ongoing investigation into evidence of fraud and other irregularities in the petition process used to seek ballot access for the party.
By a vote of 3-2, the Board voted down a motion to recognize the Green Party, concluding that the petitions were not yet shown to be sufficient under the law.
Watch video of the full State Board meeting. (Video will be posted as soon as possible after the meeting ends.)
Recognition would have allowed Green Party candidates to appear on ballots in the November 2022 general election. It would have also allowed North Carolina voters to register as affiliated with the Green Party. Currently, North Carolina voters can register as unaffiliated, or as members of the Democratic, Libertarian, or Republican parties.
Signers of Green Party petitions must be registered voters. Petition pages submitted to elections officials include voters’ names, addresses, dates of birth, and signatures. This allows county boards of elections to check names, addresses, and signatures against voter registration records and validate or reject each signature, as required by law. N.C.G.S. § 163-96(c). The State Board must then examine the petitions checked by county boards to determine their sufficiency.
Over the past several weeks, county boards of elections in North Carolina validated enough signatures by registered voters to put the party over the 13,865 required for recognition under state law.
However, as county boards reviewed Green Party petition sheets and later as the State Board examined these petitions, several counties and State Board staff identified numerous irregularities. The State Board opened an investigation into the apparent irregularities. The investigation is ongoing.
To date, the investigation has found numerous petition pages containing signs of fraud or other irregularities. This includes signatures that had previously been approved by the county boards. Irregularities include:
- The same handwriting throughout a petition page and/or signatures that clearly appear to be written by the same person. It is illegal to sign the name of another person to a petition.
- Three signature-gathering contractors hired for this petition collected 1,472 signatures, but only 624 were accepted. At least three workers were paid by the signature collected.
- Voters apparently signed petitions more than once.
- Voters whose names appear on the signature sheets claim they never signed the petition.
- Petition sheets include deceased voters or voters long-removed from the voter registration files, indicating submission of signature sheets from a past Green Party petition drive.
- Signature pages identify a long-ago Green Party chair, also indicating submission of outdated signatures.
- See additional information about the investigation, including the PowerPoint presentation given at the State Board meeting, which includes examples of apparently fraudulent signature pages.
Under N.C.G.S. § 163-96, there are three ways to create a new political party. The method the Green Party is using requires the party to collect signatures of 0.25% of the number of registered voters who voted in the most recent election for governor, or, in this case, 13,865 signatures.
The prospective party must also get at least 200 signatures from registered voters in three of the state’s 14 congressional districts.
In March 2018, the State Board recognized the Green Party as a political party after a new state law allowed political parties with a candidate on the ballot in at least 70 percent of the states in the last presidential election to seek recognition. The Green Party’s nominee for president in 2016, Jill Stein, was on ballots 38 states. The party lost its recognition after failing to garner the required 2% of the total vote for their candidate for governor or for presidential electors in the 2020 general election. In 2021, voters formerly affiliated with the Green Party were moved to unaffiliated status.