In 2022, the Green Party collected all the signatures they needed to get recognized as an official party so their U.S. Senate candidate Matthew Hoh, as well as another candidate for the state legislature, could run on the Green Party ticket. Enough signatures were verified by the county boards of election to more than accomplish this task. But they were not recognized.

Instead, they faced lawsuits from Democrat super-lawyer Marc Elias, with assistance by the state’s Democratic Party. Elias and the Democrats also reached out directly to those who had signed and, allegedly, harassed them until many of them agreed to pull their names. Some of those calling to ask signers to “unsign” the petition even pretended to be calling on behalf of the Green Party, according to audio provided to the Carolina Journal by actual members of the party.

The Green Party also faced endless bureaucratic red-tape and legal hurdles that went right up to, and even beyond, the deadlines. In the end, after great pressure, the state board of elections approved the Green Party to run candidates, and a federal judge ruled that because they had met all the actual legal requirements and the delay wasn’t due to their own negligence, they would have to be allowed on the ballot.

Déjà vu?

According to “No Labels,” a political movement led in part by two North Carolinians — former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and former national NAACP executive director Ben Chavis — a similar dynamic is developing as they try to get approved on the ballot.

No Labels, who is considering running a candidate for president, has collected all the signatures that they need to be recognized as a party and to run candidates. These signatures have even been verified by NC State Board of Elections (NCSBE). But there’s not word yet on whether or when they will be recognized. This is making McCrory and Chavis nervous.

“People will have confidence of our elections if they know politics isn’t being played and what we want to make sure is politics isn’t being played to the voters of North Carolina or in other states, and that the right thing is done and done very, very quickly, three months delay is already too much,” McCrory told CBS 17.

In August, there will be further discussion by the board on No Labels, but McCrory and other leaders in the group believe it is just one of many roadblocks being set up across the country.

The Arizona Democratic Party also objected to No Labels being on the ballot. In their lawsuit, the Arizona Democratic Party was unusually candid, saying that if No Labels were on the ballot, it could “make it more difficult to elect Democratic Party candidates” and “require [the party] to expend and divert additional funds and staff time on voter education to accomplish its mission in Arizona.”

No Labels also sounded the alarm after a report from Washington Post described a meeting of 40 high-level Democratic leaders who came together to discuss how to block a No Labels run. McCrory told Carolina Journal he believed that Marc Elias, the same powerful Democrat lawyer that targeted the Green Party, was one of the leaders of this group.

In North Carolina, the Democrat chair of the NCSBE, appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper, is making a more nuanced case against No Labels than those in Arizona did. He said in their July meeting, as quoted by WUNC’s Colin Campbell, that the No Labels has not made it clear what their “purpose” will be.

Despite the fact that a party’s “purpose” should be fairly obvious (winning elections) and despite No Labels passing out promotional material to those signing that listed goals and positions, Hirsch wasn’t convinced.

“Unfortunately, from my point of view, I am also concerned that this [providing materials to voters with their goals] is not sufficient, in particular, because this is an example,” Hirsch said.

If the NCSBE wants to avoid another PR nightmare like the Green Party ordeal, they should be very careful. No Labels makes clear what their purpose is — to offer an alternative to the two major candidates, who the majority of voters don’t seem to like very much. They frequently cite polling showing 60-70% of voters want neither Biden nor Trump. No Labels also says they want to create a movement where party name doesn’t matter and big challenges — like fixing Social Security and balancing the federal budget — can be taken on without partisan games. It’s in their name. It’s doubtful that those signing were confused about all this when they signed.

The bottom line is that they’ve gathered the requisite number of signatures and had them verified. Democrats want to be taken seriously on “voting rights,” but, apparently, allowing voters to have more options — especially if those options threaten Democratic Party’s chances — is not among those rights.

NC voters increasingly are registering as independent. For the first time in state history, there are actually more voters registered as independent than for either of the two main parties. There are also a lot of disaffected voters from both parties right now due to infighting and unpopular candidates.

Many of these voters may be interested in the pitch from a conservative Democrat like U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia (rumored to be the top of the No Labels ticket) paired with a moderate Republican like Pat McCrory — though McCrory told me it wouldn’t be him. No Labels should get a chance to make their pitch without any of the shenanigans the Green Party faced.