State Board of Elections Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell on Thursday updated the public on the investigation into suspected fraudulent signatures gathered for the Green Party’s bid for new party recognition in North Carolina.
The investigation continues, Brinson Bell said, but has been hindered by the refusal of consultants and signature collectors hired in the effort to cooperate with State Board investigators as they attempt to quantify the number of suspected fraudulent signatures submitted by the Green Party.
Green Party representatives have themselves acknowledged in published statements that fraudulent signatures were submitted. The question is whether there are still enough valid signatures to qualify the party for recognition in North Carolina. Under state law, the party must receive 13,865 real signatures from registered voters, including at least 200 signatures from at least three congressional districts.
“We all recognize how important this decision is, but we cannot provide a clear recommendation to the State Board without enough information to determine whether the party has collected the number of valid signatures required by law,” Brinson Bell said. “We continue to investigate and make further attempts to contact individuals we believe were involved in submitting false signatures. To date, they have not been cooperative. Hopefully, we will be able to make a concrete recommendation to the State Board – based on facts – in the near future.”
The State Board opened an investigation into the Green Party petition process on May 13, after several county boards of elections contacted the State Board about irregularities discovered as they reviewed petition pages.
So far, the investigation has found:
- Numerous fake signatures on petition pages, indicating an organized effort to falsify signatures.
- 38 individuals who contacted a single county board of elections stating they did not sign the petition in which their names were listed.
- Among a sample of voters listed on pages gathered by a subject in the criminal investigation, an overwhelming ratio of such voters told state investigators they did not sign versus those who said they did.
- The Green Party and a putative Green Party candidate hired individuals who submitted numerous false signatures and were paid by the signature. These individuals, who collected thousands of signatures, have not cooperated with the investigation, so investigators have been unable to determine exactly how many false signatures were submitted.
- Same handwriting throughout many pages
- Numerous lines with incomplete information, or where the name, address, or date of birth was crossed out
- Duplicate voters
- Partial dates of birth
Brinson Bell’s update came during the State Board meeting on Thursday. See the Executive Director Report (PDF). For additional information on the investigation, see Consideration of Recognition of the North Carolina Green Party from the Board’s June 30 meeting.
The State Board has also requested that county boards of elections that did not previously check signatures on the Green Party petition pages against signatures on file to do so by July 29. Under North Carolina law, county boards of elections must “examine and verify the signatures” on a petition and verify that the “signatures on the petition have been checked against the registration records” (N.C.G.S. § 163-96). This is how election officials authenticate the voter’s identity.
“This is how petition-checking must be conducted under North Carolina state law,” Brinson Bell said. “We are adhering to the law to ensure the integrity of elections and the petition process.”