The Democrats have focused on “voter suppression” during their campaign in the midterms… but some Democrats were happy keeping a competing party off North Carolina’s ballot.
The Democrat-controlled North Carolina State Board of Elections rejected the Green Party’s petition as the board investigated fraud on the signature sheets.
Eventually, the board reversed its temporary decision. On Monday, it voted unanimously recognize the Green Party as a new political party.
In the meantime, liberals became divided over the board’s actions. Some liberals have accused the Green Party of doing the GOP’s bidding, and others have criticized the Democrats’ hypocrisy on election integrity.
Katelyn Love, the board’s legal counsel, announced Monday that the North Carolina Green Party has submitted more than enough signatures validated by both the state and county elections boards to earn immediate recognition. But Green Party candidates still face an ongoing legal battle to appear on the November ballot after the state board’s initial rejection of the petition led the party to miss the July 1 deadline to submit its nominees.
Though the elections board determined it does not have authority to extend the deadline, an Aug. 8 federal court hearing in Raleigh could widen the window for a new political party to nominate candidates in North Carolina.
“This was never a political decision, but always an important one,” board chair Damon Circosta, a Democrat, said Monday according to the Associated Press. “I personally did what I said I would do from the start. If there came a time when I believed there were enough valid signatures to recognize the Green Party, I would vote to do so.”
The elections board’s Democratic majority previously rejected the Green Party petition in a 3-2 vote on June 30, citing petition sheets with nearly identical handwriting, incomplete personal information, duplicate names and deceased signatories.
The Green Party then sued the board on July 14, alleging Democratic interference in the petitioning process and asking the court to reverse the board’s decision. The board filed a response to the lawsuit on Friday, opposing the Green Party’s demand that a judge order the board to include its candidates on the ballot.
The board agreed the court should extend the candidate filing deadline should the party earn official recognition at Monday’s board meeting, the brief states.
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Democrats have warned that Green Party certification could divide progressive voters and clear a path for Republican victories in key races — particularly the tight U.S. Senate race between Democrat Cheri Beasley and Trump-endorsed Republican Rep. Ted Budd. Prior to the board’s initial vote, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee acknowledged contacting signers of the Green Party’s petition to request they remove their names.
The Democrats have faced accusations of hypocrisy for sloganeering about the norms of our democracy but then discouraging the Green Party from getting on the ballot.
Still, some liberals have defended the Democrats’ actions. They’ve accused the Green Party of spoiling the Democrats’ elections. On Twitter, some users joke that “GREEN” stands for “Get Republicans Elected Every November.”
After the 2020 Democratic primaries, Jill Stein — a former Green Party candidate — went on Twitter and issued more criticisms about presumptive nominee Joe Biden than about Donald Trump, the president at the time. Ralph Nader, a Green Party candidate in 2000’s presidential election, still faces criticism for sinking the Democrats’ chances in Florida.
The Green Party was not on the ballot during Joe Biden’s surprise victory in Georgia… but the Libertarian Party was.
Take a look —
Well what do you know? Pretty much confirms that the Green Party helps to get Republicans elected every November. https://t.co/yJ6suUZNjI
— my middle name is NMN (@mmnisnmn9) July 26, 2022
Democrats already attempted to end democracy in North Carolina. WEIRD that you’re okay with that. https://t.co/3XoBNmsjPo
— Brendan Haskins (@BrendanHaskins) July 28, 2022
Here is the corrupt lawyer who engineered the Green party’s removal from the ballot in North Carolina tweeting about “free and fair elections.” https://t.co/Nhmi5ecTHB
— Ryan Knight ☭ (@ProudSocialist) July 23, 2022
K. Ryan Parker, a plaintiff in the Green Party lawsuit, called the board’s decision “a welcome surprise and a huge win for democracy,” which he believes was prompted by the recent onslaught of media attention and a desire to settle the matter outside federal court.
“It doesn’t change the fact that the Democratic Party attempted to disenfranchise North Carolina voters like me by hiring operatives to call, text and visit voters in their home, attempting to compel them to remove their signatures from the petition,” Parker said in an interview Monday.
“And it doesn’t change the fact that this two-party system, this duopoly, has failed us at every turn and continues to force voters into a dilemma every four years of voting for a lesser evil.”
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Ballot preparation begins in mid-August, which Love said should give Green Party candidates enough time to appear on the North Carolina ballot alongside Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians if the court rules in their favor.
Circosta said the board also plans to recommend legislative changes aimed at ensuring those who commit fraud in the signature collection process can be easily identified and brought to justice.
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article.