North Carolina is said to be politically a purple state, a mix of red (Republican) and blue (Democrat). Now, we may need to add some green to the mix, as the Green Party has demanded statewide ballot access in the November general election. The row that has erupted over this could change the results of this year’s election, but more importantly, the results in 2024. Let’s try to settle the problem as best we can.
We don’t know much about the Green Party or who is involved in it, but it claims “green” policy principles, such as social justice, environmentalism, and nonviolence. They want to field a slate of candidates to run statewide in the November election, and to comply with North Carolina law, the new party must submit at least 13,865 signed petitions from registered voters to get this approval.
In order to get such large numbers, the Green Party hired several contractors to run petition campaigns across the state and submitted some 22,000 signed petitions to the state Board of Elections.
Democrats and their supporters, including the Elias Group, a law firm known for defending Democrats, complained to the State Board of Elections, claiming that some of the signatures submitted had been “intentionally doctored” and that the Green Party should be denied new party status on the grounds that it did not qualify.
By a vote of 3 to 2, strictly along party lines, the National Board of Elections rejected the Green Party’s request. The three deniers were Democrats and the two supporters were Republican members.
Spokespersons for the Greens group immediately accused the Council of State of blatantly trying to prevent a new party, increasing the chances that the Democrats could prevail. They are suing the board for a reversal of the decision, claiming the board violated their First Amendment and their due process rights. They recognize that some of the signatures might not be valid but, since they collected over 22,000 signatures and over 16,000 had been validated by county councils, they had enough to clear the hurdle of 13,865 required.
After some questions were raised, the state board found that not all county councils had properly verified signatures and ordered all 100 county councils to validate signatures and report back to them by July 29. . But it’s too little, too late for the Green Party.
Even if it is shown that there are a sufficient number of valid signatures and the State Council reverses its decision, the reversal will not help this year. The deadline for submitting nominations for the November election was July 1, and changing that deadline would require either a court order or a vote of the legislature.
Republicans, not wanting to sit on the sidelines, joined the green cause, saying Democrats and their operatives were contacting signers and asking them to revoke their petition signatures, further telling signers that a third party would significantly disadvantage the Democrats’ chances of victory. elections. This could get messy!
Some accuse the state board of partisanship, saying they knew setting a July 29 date for counties to report would prevent the Green Party from voting in November. We also find it interesting that the Republicans are siding with the Green Party. Won’t a third party also part with some of their votes? And what was the real reason behind the Green Party’s petition this year?
The grand prize, unspoken but understood, is the November election for the US Senate. Democrats believe they have a good chance of overturning the seat, but a tie vote may result in the election of another Republican.
As a point of clarification, let us cite the North Carolina law to accept a new statewide political party. “Any group of voters who shall have filed with the National Board of Elections petitions for the formation of a new political party which are signed by registered and qualified voters in this State equal in number to one quarter of one percent ( 0.25%) of the total number of voters who cast their ballots in the last general election for governor. In addition, the petition must be signed by at least 200 registered voters from each of Carolina’s three congressional districts. North. The State Board of Elections reports that there were 5,545,848 votes cast for governor in 2020. Doing the math confirms that 13,865 signatures are required for third-party endorsement this year.
Polls have repeatedly shown that North Carolina voters would welcome a third political party. Of the 7,325,245 registered voters in our state, 34.03% are registered Democrats, 30.17 are Republicans, but the highest percentage (35.12) are registered with no affiliation. Voters increasingly prefer not to belong to either party.
Here’s my turn: I don’t have a pony in this current race, but I know that North Carolina’s ballot access laws are archaic, too difficult for candidates to gain access to the ballot, and need to be changed for ages. years. They weren’t because both political parties don’t want additional competition and have hampered efforts to relax the requirements. Voters need more options, not fewer.
Unfortunately, whatever action the State Board of Elections takes will further divide us and create mistrust in our electoral process. We will await the decision of the Council of State and hope that it will make a decision free from any partisan political influence. Hopefully, then, they will explain it clearly to voters and defend the legislative changes.
Tom Campbell is a North Carolina Hall of Fame broadcaster and columnist who has covered North Carolina public policy issues since 1965. He recently retired from writing, producing and moderating the half-hour NC SPIN TV show that aired for 22½ years. Contact him at [email protected]