State and local boards of elections are being criticized as a result of the voting debacle that was the 2020 election, during which mail-in ballots were accepted with little scrutiny to assure the accuracy and integrity of the votes. North Carolina’s State Board of Elections’ (SBE) decision to deny the Green Party ballot access for the 2022 mid-terms only confirms that this board is nothing more than an arm of the Democrat Party.
On June 30 the SBE in a 3-2 party line vote, denied the Green Party’s petition to be recognized as an official party, which would have allowed their candidates to be listed on the state ballots. Because of this decision Matthew Hoh, the Green Party’s U.S. Senate Candidate will not share space with Democrat Cheri Beasley, Republican Ted Budd and Libertarian Shannon Bray.
Becoming a recognized political party in North Carolina has been a very arduous endeavor, requiring the party to jump through a myriad of hoops, to include collecting a minimum of 0.25% of the total number of registered voters participating in the most recent election.
In addition to the petition process, third parties can gain recognition if the party fields a presidential candidate who was recognized in 35 states in the most recent election, or if the party or group receives at least 2% of the votes in the last gubernatorial election.
Since the Green Party could not use the presidential or gubernatorial quota, it was required to provide signed petitions of at least 13,865. Recognizing that a petition campaign might be sloppy, the party went out of its way to provide more than 22,521 petitions to be reviewed by the local election boards and then to be sent to the state board for final approval.
There’s no question that a campaign of this nature will experience some inaccuracies and yes, even the possibility of fraud, often times caused by over exuberant petitioners. That is why the party sought more than the number of signed petitions required.
In the review of the petitions several local boards of elections had questions, discarding several petitions, but they still validated almost 16 thousand, well beyond the number required to justify the Green Party presence on the ballot.
But Democrat operatives were and are concerned that because of the general malaise within the party and across the nation, any alternative candidate could harm the chances of the party’s U.S. Senatorial candidate Cheri Beasley. Polling data currently shows that she is trailing her Republican opponent, Ted Budd.
As the petitions were being collected by the party and submitted to the local boards and then on to the state board, copies of the petitions with names, addresses, and dates of birth of the signers were provided to the Elias Law Group, described as a powerful law group representing a variety of Democrat causes. This is the same law group that successfully navigated the N.C. Democrat Party’s lawsuit to have the state’s first redistricting map overturned following the 2020 census.
Using the information provided by the SBE, the Ellias Law Group initiated its own investigation of the petitions, finding supposed fraud and other inaccuracies. But the involvement of this third party didn’t stop there. Democrat operatives began scouring the names, addresses and numbers to cajole or, in some instances, intimidate signers to get them to remove their names from the petitions.
While that was going on the Green Party continued to submit petitions, not knowing that a third party was involved, only to discover this when the SBE announced the rejection of the Green Party’s efforts. Anthony Ndege, co-chair of the N.C. Green Party and former national chairman, noted in a recent interview that the party was to have the petitions returned following review by the local board of elections. In some cases, particularly in major metro markets such as Durham County, the board would not return the petitions, stating that investigations were ongoing.
Then on June 30, the last day for the party to be certified for ballot inclusion, the SBE denied the application, stating that there are numerous discrepancies that justified possible legal action.
This is not the first time that a third or alternative party has been quashed to protect one of the establishment parties. Republicans remember well the impact of Ross Perot’s candidacy as the candidate for the Reform Party which political historians contend caused presidential incumbent George H.W. Bush to lose to Bill Clinton in the 1992 election. Likewise, Democrats are constantly reminded of the impact of Ralph Nader’s run on the Green Party ticket in 2004 which ostensibly took votes away from Democrat John Kerry, who lost to Republican candidate George W. Bush. These instances have resulted in state boards of election tightening the process for ballot inclusion.
The very makeup of the SBE brings into question the chances of any third or alternative party. At both the local and state level the boards’ five members are split along party lines with the majority representation being the party of the Governor- in this case Democrat since that is Gov. Cooper’s party.
Based on the historic impact of third parties in general elections there’s political incentive to create barriers.
It is interesting that this time the SBE was very concerned about the signatures on the Green Party petition. This was not a concern in the 2020 election when questions were raised about both the accuracy and credibility of the tens of thousands of mail in ballots that were used. In some cases those ballots were never marked by the voters, but instead by operatives aiding voters who were confused by the process.
Tommy Tucker, one of two Republicans on the SBE, questioned why the board was so intent upon reviewing all of the Green Party petition signatures when that same scrutiny did not exist in the 2020 election, noting to Carolina Journal reporter David Larson that “nary a signature, meaning not one,” was reviewed by the SBE in that election.
Obviously the verification and integrity process is only important to the party holding all the cards and in this case that’s the state’s Democrat Party.
This experience by the Green Party of intentional political malfeasance on the part of the SBE is yet another example of why voters are losing faith in the electoral system. To create a better and more credible environment the state needs to make the Board of Elections participation independent of any political party. But that is doubtful since the current makeup of the state and local board of elections assure that both establishment parties remain in power.
In conclusion, elections are not about the voters or the issues, they are all about political, and by extension, economic power.