NC Green Party files lawsuit against BOE over ballot access
The North Carolina Green Party reached out to Carolina Journal and other media on July 14 with news that they had filed suit against the N.C. State Board of Elections (NCSBE) over their exclusion from the 2022 midterm ballots as a recognized party. They ask that the court declare their exclusion by the NCSBE unconstitutional and guarantee the party is recognized and able to run candidates. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of North Carolina received the suit.
The suit, which can be read here, begins by saying:
Plaintiff North Carolina Green Party (“NCGP”) timely complied with all
requirements under state law to qualify as a new political party and place its candidates on North Carolina’s November 8, 2022 general election ballot. Nevertheless, by a divided 3-2 vote,
Defendant North Carolina State Board of Elections (“NCSBE”) declined to certify NCGP as a new
political party. NCSBE cited no legal authority for its action. NCSBE claims to be investigating
unspecified allegations of “irregularities” in NCGP’s petitions, but NCSBE concedes that NCGP
submitted over 2,000 more valid signatures than required under state law. Moreover, NCSBE has
not presented NCGP with evidence of the purported “irregularities” in its petitions, nor has it given NCGP any opportunity to defend the validity of the signatures on its petitions.
The plaintiffs in the case include members of the party, candidates, voters, and signers of the petition for recognition of the Green Party. The defendant is listed as the N.C. State Board of Elections.
The NCGP’s attorneys in the case are Oliver Hall and Pooyan Ordoubadi.
The prayer for relief in the suit asks that the court:
A. Enter a declaratory judgment holding that NCSBE’s failure to certify NCGP
as a new political party pursuant to § 163-96(a)(2) is unconstitutional as
B. Enter an order directing NCSBE to certify NCGP as a new political party
entitled to place its candidates on North Carolina’s November 8, 2022
general election ballot pursuant to § 163-96(a)(2), with sufficient time to
ensure the candidates’ inclusion on the ballots to be prepared in mid-August
2022, and enjoining NCSBE from enforcing the July 1 filing deadline under
§ 163-98 as applied to Plaintiffs;
C. Award other and further relief as the Court deems proper;
D. Award litigation costs and attorney’s fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988; and
E. Retain jurisdiction over this action and grant the Plaintiffs any further relief
which may in the discretion of the Court be necessary and proper.
The NCGP cried foul in late June when the board voted 3-2 not to certify them over “questions” about the signatures verified by county boards of elections. The Green Party had more than 2,000 signatures past what they needed, but the Democrats on the state board said there was potential fraud present.
The Green Party countered that those who had signed their petition had been hassled and tricked into pulling their names from the petition. One example of what the Green Party alleges Democrat Party operatives did is below in audio provided to Carolina Journal.
UPDATE: The Green Party’s suit also claims that an Elias Law Group attorney, Elizabeth Poston, used identical language in her public records request to language used by Amelia Brown, a legal intern for Gov. Roy Cooper. Elias Law Group is the powerful Democratic firm that spearheaded the effort to get the NCGP off the ballot. Assistance for their efforts from Cooper’s office would be a new front in the battle over the Green Party’s access to the ballot.
UPDATE: In a July 14 statement provided to CJ by the NCSBE, executive director Karen Brinson Bell said, “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. 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 statement was titled, “Investigation Continues into False Signatures for New Political Party.” The main thrust of the statement was that the NCSBE is trying to verify the signatures but that Green Party signature collectors are not cooperating.