RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN)–By a unanimous vote, the North Carolina State Board of Elections recognized the Green Party, clearing the next hurdle for it to be on the fall ballot. 

The board was told by NCSBE staff that the criminal investigation into evidence of fraudulent petition signatures continues. NCSBE investigators have or continue to contact voters, issue subpoenas, review subpoenaed records and review signature sheets.

The Green Party was required to gather 13,865 signatures to become a recognized party after it didn’t reach the necessary threshold of votes in the last statewide election. NCBSE said 15,472 signatures have been validated. The total signatures in question would not bring the total signatures below 13,865. Signature sheets that missed the deadline are also not included. 

The NCSBE said the criminal investigation involves fraudulent signatures that were submitted by two collectors. The petitions that are being examined include fake signatures and signatures from previous petitions according to the NCSBE. Any evidence of wrongdoing will be passed on to prosecutors.

Prior to Monday’s vote the National Republican Senatorial Committee filed a brief with the courts saying they support the Green Party’s Emergency Motion for a Preliminary Injunction. Democrats typically lose votes to the Green Party.

CBS 17 also obtained a letter to the NCSBE from attorneys for the Democratic Senatorial Committee claiming the level of fraud is greater than originally thought.

The Green Party has denied any wrongdoing that’s not related to an outside contractor and says they were unaware of any potential wrongdoing prior to delivering the petitions to county boards of elections. 

The board’s vote does not automatically qualify the Green Party to be on the November ballot. Litigation in federal court will address the July 1st deadline for a new political party to submit nominees and whether that date can be extended. That hearing is scheduled for Aug. 8th. 

Finally, following the vote, the North Carolina Democratic Party announced it will file a lawsuit in Wake County Superior Court to “protect the integrity of the North Carolina political process.”

“Given the North Carolina State Board of Elections’ own investigation finding widespread fraud in the North Carolina Green Party petitions and the ongoing criminal investigation, the NCDP is pursuing legal action to ensure North Carolina voters have not been decided.

The NCSVE’s vote today represents a sharp departure from how the board has treated past fraud cases, most notably in the 2018 election fraud scandal in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, in which the board ordered a completely new election after finding evidence of balance tampering.”