RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — By a unanimous vote, the North Carolina State Board of Elections recognized the Green Party as investigators look into reports of fake signatures used to get the party back on the 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 the board has validated 15,472 signatures.

The state Democratic Party announced later Monday that it will sue in Wake County to stop the certification of the party because of the ongoing investigation.

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. 

Democrats respond

From NCDP Executive Director Meredith Cuomo said in a release that the NC BOE had found widespread fraud in the Green Party’s petitions. She said that given “the ongoing criminal investigation, the NCDP is pursuing legal action to ensure North Carolina voters have not been deceived.”

NCDP cited how the board of elections had treated previous fraud cases, including the vote-distribution scandal that forced a new election in 2018 for the 9th Congressional District.

The Democrats’ statement cited how the Green Party had not cooperated with the investigation and what they claimed was evidence involving “at least two petition gathering consultants who have a documented record of committing fraud, and a review of the petitions showed  “Numerous fraudulent signatures” which “indicate organized effort to falsify petition.”