RFK Jr., West ballot bids delayed in North Carolina

North Carolina’s election board delayed bids from political groups representing independent presidential candidates Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornel West from gaining ballot access in a meeting Wednesday.

The board, which includes three Democrats and two Republican members, said it needs more time to review ballot applications from the We The People Party and the Justice for All Party of North Carolina. Parties have a lower signature requirement to get on the ballot than individual candidates.

The board affirmed that both parties had met the required 13,000 signatures to make the ballot, though Democrats questioned the parties’ methods for creating the petitions. The three dissenting board members said more examination is needed of how signatures were collected, how party volunteers presented the petition’s goals to voters and what information was placed on petition lists.

The “delay is not intended to deny your status as a party,” board Chair Alan Hirsch told We The People leaders participating in the three-and-a-half-hour online meeting, according to The Associated Press. ”It’s just to do our job and to be sure that … the people that signed the petition know the purpose and intent” of the proposed party, he added.

If Kennedy or West were to file for ballot access individually, they would need more than 80,000 signatures.

The board will meet again next month, tentatively on July 9, to further consider the parties’ applications.

Republican board members criticized the decisions by the Democratic majority, saying it wasn’t the board’s place to question the motives of organization officials.

“I think these people have done everything that they needed to do to comply with the law,” board member Kevin Lewis said. Another Republican member, Four Eggers, said the Democrats were yielding to political groups who filed objections to the certification requests.

The objections were filed by Democratic political group Clear Choice Action, which claimed that both parties’ petitions were riddled with false signatures. The state Democratic Party also claimed that the party applications were merely attempts to avoid the higher signature requirements for individual independent candidates.

The Kennedy campaign denounced the challenges in a statement Thursday.

“Our supporters turned in nearly twice as many signatures as we need so the Democratic Party’s efforts to disenfranchise North Carolina voters won’t succeed,” the campaign said. “Our party, We The People North Carolina, has broad precedent on its side, will fight this decision, and will win.”

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