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North Carolina election board stalls on two, approves Constitution Party

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(The Center Square) – Sparks flew as the North Carolina Board of Elections decided Tuesday to further delay voting to approve ballot access for the We the People Party and the Justice for All Party.

The Constitution Party, a third which met the signature threshold as mandated by state statute, was approved. Randall Terry is its presidential nominee. Conservative values are the party’s calling card; the two delayed trend in the opposite direction and threaten to siphon votes for Democrats.

This comes as the board, which met June 26 and delayed all three parties’ access, faces a federal investigation by the Committee on the Judiciary of the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.

“I’m just completely at a loss for what is going on here,” Kevin Lewis, a Republican, said in the Tuesday meeting. “It’s not making sense to me. I think the board is bringing a lot of bad publicity on the board. Your motives are starting to be questioned.”

At the last board meeting, each of the parties were denied 3-2 by a party-line vote.

Chairman Alan Hirsch, Jeff Carmon and Siobhan Millan, all Democrats, voted against while Republicans Stacy Eggers and Kevin Lewis voted in favor.

This time around, the board moved to approve the Constitution Party, while refusing to vote to approve the other two parties, instead delaying the vote for an unspecified amount of time.

The Constitution Party will have until July 23 to submit all candidate nominations. The timeframe was unanimously approved.

The federal investigation launched a week ago. It comes two years after the state board was litigated and shown to have improperly denied the Green Party access to the ballot in 2022.

“The Committee on House Administration and the Committee on the Judiciary are concerned that the NCSBE’s decision was politically motivated and may have been done to influence the 2024 presidential election by limiting the candidates for which voters may cast their ballots,” wrote Jordan and Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wisconsin, and chairman of the House Administration Committee.

While longshot Terry will gain access, still awaiting are presidential hopefuls Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (We the People) and Cornel West (Justice for All Party).

According to previous reporting by the Center Square, adding the candidates would not be beneficial to Democrats. While ballot access is for any race, the presidential race draws the most attention in this growing scandal.

Democratic presidential candidates since Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1964 triumph have only won the state twice in the last 14 cycles – Jimmy Carter in 1976, and Barack Obama in 2008. Each failed to win the state four years later.

North Carolina has 16 electoral college votes and is considered one of seven key battleground states representing 93 electoral college votes. The others are Pennsylvania (19), Georgia (16), Michigan (15), Arizona (11), Wisconsin (10) and Nevada (six).

All board members confirmed they have no conflicts of interest in the matters they were considering. Lewis challenged that, expressing concerns about the motivations of his fellow board members.

“I’m a little just a little bit disappointed about how this board is dragging its feet on this issue,” Lewis said. “You know how I voted last time and I hope fellow board members will do the right thing and approve these parties.”

Hirsch, the chairman, asked to discuss Lewis’ concerns “offline” before saying he will “promptly” schedule the next meeting. He said he wanted to allow staff to complete their investigations into the signatures submitted by the We the People party and the Justice for All Party.

The Democrat’s reasoning is ironic. Photo identification laws and U.S. citizenship laws are routinely challenged by his party, inclusive of litigation despite overwhelming approval by North Carolina voters in the case of the former.

In response, Eggers said the board should avoid going on a “fishing expedition” to try to find invalid signatures, especially as both parties were significantly over the required threshold for signatures.

The Justice for All Party also called the board’s subpoenas “illegal.”

“This is political persecution orchestrated by Marc Elias and the NC Democrats. Regardless of your party affiliation, should be rebuked entirely,” the party said in a statement.

Outrage over the board’s actions has been widespread among the Republicans.

“Despite Democrats having to pay legal fees for frivolous interference with the Green Party’s ballot access in 2022, Democrats appear to be using their control of the State Elections Board to run the same playbook against the parties supporting Cornell West and RFK Jr.,” said North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop on social media.

The North Carolina GOP also released a statement in favor of the parties.

“This board is yet again engaging in blatant partisanship, this time clearly aimed at preserving the political prospects of Democrats, specifically President Joe Biden in this state’s General Election,” said North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Jason Simmons in a letter to the board.

Board member Millen added that she is aware of the large amount of publicity around their decision since the investigation was opened.

“I take all the letters we’ve received very seriously,” she said.

No date was set for the next meeting.

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