RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Since the North Carolina Green Party did not receive enough votes in the last statewide election, they spent months trying to get enough signatures to be on the November ballot.

The Green Party submitted 22,521 signatures with 15,953 approved by county boards of elections. 13,865 are needed.

Volunteers asked for signatures but so did hired contractors, including a company that is accused of falsifying signatures in Michigan. While the NC Green Party has waited for the signatures to be validated, the North Carolina Board of Elections has been scrutinizing the petitions.

Prior to voting whether to certify the Green Party as an official party on the ballot the NCSBE went into closed session to discuss a criminal complaint. After the closed session NCSBE executive director Karen Brinson Bell told the board that her staff had found irregularities among the signatures.

“There’s just a lot of concern around what we are finding and the amount of irregularities and possible fraud” said Brinson Bell. 

The power point presentation outlined findings that included similar signatures, duplicate names, dead voters and people who are no longer registered to vote. 

NCSBE staff recommended the NC General Assembly pass a law making it illegal to signatures gatherers per signature. 

Some democrats have made it clear that a vote for the Green Party hurts democrats. That message has been delivered with the past few weeks to petition signers via text, phone calls and in-person.

Democrat and board chair Damon Circosta indicated during Thursday’s meeting the desire to delay the board’s decision, while the criminal investigation is underway.

But after a motion to go ahead and vote the certification of the Green Party for the fall election failed.

Republican and board member Tommy Tucker argued the same standard of verifying signatures wasn’t held in 2020.

Matthew Hoh, who planned to be on the ballot as a US Senate candidate, said “I’m angry, frustrated, disappointed. We feel that the overly partisan nature of this decision, the denial of electoral justice political justice if you will, validates why we are running, validates why we are trying to create a new political party here in North Carolina. So while I agree with a lot of the arguments put forward by the republicans, I am troubled by the fact that it was clearly partisan, democrats vs republicans in terms of whether we as a political party can be allowed to run candidates in November.”

Hoh said the Green Party has continued to cooperate with investigators. “We feel as defrauded by them [the contractors] as you know the state would feel. Certainly, it does not represent the dozens and dozens, hundreds of people who helped us in the effort from everything from college students to grandmothers,” Hoh said. 

In statement Green Party Chair Tony Ngege said “In a Democracy the majority should rule. Our petitions far exceeded the threshold and any signatures submitted by petitioners. Their voices should be honored according to the State Statute immediately and forthwith. In North Carolina, anyone can collect and turn in petition signatures as they are certified by county boards. This decision was grossly undemocratic and unethically overruled the decisions of the county boards. There are clearly very powerful forces applying tremendous pressure and vast resources to silence us and the message of ending wars for profit, living wages, and political independence for working people. We are not deterred because we know that history will absolve us.”

Hoh indicated that his party will explore legal options within the courts.