Lawsuit claims Cooper's office assisted in purge of North Carolina Green Party from November ballot
A lawsuit challenging the North Carolina State Board of Elections decision to exclude the North Carolina Green Party from the November ballot alleges collaboration with the governor’s office.
Democrats on the state board outvoted Republicans 3-2 in late June to exclude the North Carolina Green Party from the midterm ballot over "questions" about signatures verified by county boards of elections, despite the party submitting 2,000 signatures above the required threshold, The Carolina Journal reports.
The Center Square
By Victor Skinner
July 18, 2022
The decision sparked a lawsuit from the Green Party requesting the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of North Carolina declare the board’s decision unconstitutional and ensure the party’s participation on the ballot.
The lawsuit alleges Democratic Party operatives harassed and tricked those who had signed onto the Green Party petition into removing their names, and implies Gov. Roy Cooper’s office may have collaborated with the effort.
The lawsuit cites public information requests from the Elias Law Group, a national Democratic firm that spearheaded the effort to exclude the Green Party, as well as a public information request from Amelia Brown, an alleged legal intern for Cooper. Both requests used identical language.
"I should clarify that the complaint specifies that we don’t know for sure that the Amelia Brown that made the request is the same Amelia Brown that is an intern in the governor’s office; but that’s what we believe and that’s what we alleged," N.C. Green Party attorney Oliver Hall told Carolina Journal.
The Journal attempted unsuccessfully to contact Elias Law Group, Cooper’s office, and Brown to discuss the allegation.
"You can draw your own conclusions about how these requests ended up being virtually identical in substantial respects, but it speaks for itself," Hall said. "Both requests were for the same material — Green Party petitions and related information and documents. And both requests used verbatim language. They weren’t completely identical; they were made at different times a few weeks apart… That seems like more than a coincidence."
Among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is Matthew P. Hoh, the Green Party’s selected candidate to fill the seat of retiring Republican Sen. Richard Burr. U.S. Rep. Ted Budd won the Republican primary in the race, while former chief justice Cheri Beasley won the Democratic primary.
The Green Party lawsuit alleges many folks who signed the petition to get the party on the ballot were contacted by unknown individuals who requested they remove their names. Some of the individuals declined to identify themselves, others stated they were calling on behalf of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and some fraudulently claimed to represent the Green Party, according to the lawsuit.
The callers told petition signers they needed to remove their names from the petition because the Green Party "takes votes" from Democrats, and "we want to make sure the Democratic candidates have the best chance to win this November," the lawsuit alleges.
North Carolina State Board of Elections alleged in a statement Thursday that efforts to investigate signatures submitted by the Green Party have been hindered by uncooperative consultants and signature collectors.
"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," Brinson Bell said. "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 State Board has also requested that county boards of elections that did not previously check signatures on the Green Party petition pages against signatures on file to do so by July 29. State law requires the party to submit 13,865 signatures from registered voters, including at least 200 from at least three congressional districts.