State board certifies Constitution Party
Published 6:39 pm Thursday, June 7, 2018
North Carolina has a fifth officially sanctioned political party.
On Wednesday, the Bipartisan State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement voted unanimously to recognize the Constitution Party of North Carolina as the state’s newest political party. Now, North Carolina voters may register with the following parties: Democratic, Republican, Libertarian, Green or Constitution. Voters may also register as unaffiliated.
The state board is updating voter-registration forms to include the new party. Until that happens, voters may register with the Constitution Party by checking the “Other” box on existing forms and writing “Constitution” on the line on the “Political Party Affiliation” section of the voter-application form.
Last month, the party collected enough verified signatures of registered voters on petitions to qualify as an official state party. Last year, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law making it easier for political parties to get on ballots. The law lowered the number of signatures needed from 90,000 registered voters to 11,925 registered voters.
The Constitution Party is the first party to qualify under the new law that reduced the number of voters’ signatures required to form a new party to 0.25 percent of the voters who cast ballots in the most-recent election for governor, as well as the signatures of at least 200 voters from at least three congressional districts.
During the petition drive, 338 voters signed petitions for the Constitution Party, with 325 of those signatures verified, according to Anita Bullock Branch, deputy director of the Beaufort County Board of Elections. As of Thursday, no one in the county had registered as a member of the Constitution Party, Branch said.
As of Wednesday, the state board of elections’ website indicates 12,665 signatures of the 16,084 signatures submitted have been verified by county elections boards that have received petitions with signatures. Once the Constitution Party receives the validated signatures from the county boards, the party had until June 1 to submit them to the state board.
Expecting recognition by the state board, the Constitution Party has scheduled a June 16 convention in Charlotte to nominate candidates for the fall elections. The party plans to run candidates for Congress, the N.C. General Assembly and county boards of commissioners.
The Green Party was recognized earlier this year. It’s expected to conduct a convention this summer to nominate candidates for the fall elections.
An elections-related bill approved by the N.C. General Assembly this week and sent to Gov. Roy Cooper’s office would prohibit candidates who lost in the May primaries from being Green Party or Constitution Party nominees for the same office during the upcoming general elections this fall. Kevin Hayes, chairman of the Constitution Party of North Carolina’s vice chairman, advised Cooper to veto the bill because the new parties have started their nomination process.
“Changing the rules in the middle of an election is not only wrong but will be challenged in court,” Hayes said in a news release.
A similar prohibition exists in current law and prevents candidates defeated in a primary from seeking the same office as an unaffiliated or write-in candidate.