Two third-party options could be off the North Carolina ballot unless each gathers enough signatures to petition the State Board of Elections to be added again for future elections.

Due to a poor showing during the 2020 general election, both the Constitution Party and the Green Party failed to meet thresholds needed to stay on the ballot. Those statutory thresholds mandate that any political party’s candidate for governor or president receive at least 2% of the vote the preceding election. A secondary option is for the political party to submit documentation proving it had a candidate nominated on the general election ballot in at least 35 states nationwide.

In 2020, the Constitution Party’s candidates for president and governor received 0.14% and 0.38%, respectively, of the vote. The Green Party’s presidential candidate garnered 0.22%.

At a State Board of Elections meeting Tuesday, Feb. 23, Chairman Damon Circosta noted that neither party had submitted documentation proving presidential candidates on the ballots in the required number of states.

But both parties planned to pursue a third way to qualify for the ballot: Securing petition signatures from registered voters from at least 0.25% of the total number of voters who voted in the most recent gubernatorial election, plus signatures from at least 200 registered voters from three congressional districts in the state.

To meet that benchmark, the Constitution and Green parties would need to collect signatures from around 14,000 voters. Currently, the Constitution Party has around 5,200 registered voters, and the Green Party has about 3,900.

The State Board of Elections voted unanimously Tuesday to delay the process of switching voters registered for these two parties over to unaffiliated, in order to provide extra time for collecting the required petition signatures.

The board also voted unanimously to keep the Libertarian Party on the ballot. Even though Libertarian candidates for president and governor earned less than 2% of the vote in 2020, party officials submitted documentation proving gubernatorial candidates in at least 35 states.

David Bass is a freelance writer for Carolina Journal.