NC Board of Elections sidesteps changing decision to keep RFK Jr., West off ballot

"We generally do not second guess voters on their decisions and should not do so in this case.” — NCSBE Member Stacey “Four” Eggers

Image courtesy of the North Carolina State Board of Elections.

RALEIGH — The North Carolina State Board of Elections did not overturn an earlier decision to keep two of three proposed political parties off the state’s November presidential ballot at its meeting Tuesday.

During the meeting, the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE) unanimously reversed its earlier decision to keep the Constitution Party off the ballot after the board had questioned the filing address listed on the party’s petition during its June 26 meeting. The board also approved requiring the party to submit its candidate names within the next two weeks.

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When it came to the We The People Party and Justice For All Party, updates were given on the investigation into petition signatures which the Democrats on the board had questioned last month; however, Chair Alan Hirsch wouldn’t bring a vote to certify their status.

Republican Member Kevin Lewis objected to postponing the vote, noting the board reversed the decision for the Constitution Party and the mounting “bad publicity” over the lack of certification.

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

“Mr. Lewis, I know you know this is on the agenda as an update,” Hirsch responded, adding that staff was still looking through the results of inquiries into petition signers. “As chair, I have the authority to set a meeting. And I promise we will do that promptly in plenty of time to get these folks on the ballot should they be approved as parties.”

Member Stacey “Four” Eggers noted the signatures being examined by staff and told Hirsch, “We generally do not second guess voters on their decisions and should not do so in this case.”

“Plus, my understanding from staff is that both of these parties are still well above the necessary signature thresholds set by statute. Is that correct?” Eggers added, with his threshold question subsequently being confirmed by staff.

The continued certification denials mean Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornell West’s are still blocked from the state’s November ballot.

NCSBE Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell was not in attendance at the July 9 meeting as she was reportedly on vacation in Alaska.

The NCSBE voted June 26 not to certify the We The People Party, Justice for All Party of North Carolina and Constitution Party even though they had all obtained more than the required number of signatures to qualify by the July 1 deadline. The votes taken on each party’s certification failed by a vote of 3-2 down partisan lines.

Under state law, the NCSBE is required to certify a party if they meet the signature threshold. The law also states, “Verification shall be completed within two weeks from the date such petitions are presented.”

The June 26 decision to block Kennedy and West from the ballot drew interest from both congressional and state lawmakers.

U.S. House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and U.S. House Committee on Administration Chairman Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) announced a congressional probe into the NCSBE’s decision on July 1.

Following the congressional probe announcement, the N.C. House Oversight and Reform Committee sent letters to certain NCSBE board members requesting a hearing to be scheduled after the board’s July meeting about the matter.  The letters went out to Hirsch, Brinson Bell and Kevin Lewis, the only Republican member.

“Democratic partisans on the State Board of Elections have ignored clear state law and refused to certify third parties that pose a threat to Joe Biden in November,” House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) said in a statement. “This is election interference at its worst, and I anticipate the House Oversight and Reform Committee will examine the board’s decisions at their July 23 hearing.”

The North Carolina Republican Party protested the initial decision as partisan activity designed to protect President Joe Biden, who in recent weeks has seen increasing calls to step aside following his poor debate performance against his opponent, former President Donald Trump.

“It is apparent this board has not learned lessons from 2022, when national and state Democrats sought to keep the Green Party off the ballot over fear their presence would harm their candidate in the U.S. Senate contest,” wrote NCGOP Chairman Jason Simmons in a letter sent to the NCSBE ahead of the July meeting.

Simmons went on to note that Judge James C. Dever in the Eastern District of North Carolina ruled in favor of the Green Party and criticized the NCSBE for missing the legal deadline to certify the party and that the NCSBE should “let the voters decide.”

A group called Fair Election Fund took to social media ahead of the July 9 NCSBE meeting to protest the board blocking Kennedy and West from the ballot.

Fair Elections Fund is a nonprofit that announced its formation in May 2024 with the aim “to expose and stop corruption in our elections in order to restore trust in our democratic process.”

The group said it will spend more than $5 million to “shine a light on fraud and abuse still occurring in our election system,” and its budget will be “devoted to paying whistleblowers like election workers, organizers, and concerned citizens who have witnessed this corruption firsthand for sharing their stories.”

In one post on X, Fair Election Fund included a picture that was projected onto the NCSBE’s building that reads in part the board is “working to block your voting rights.”

About A.P. Dillon 1342 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_