January 22, 2021
Governor Roy Cooper
State of North Carolina
State Capitol Building
Raleigh, NC 27601
Dear Governor Cooper:
We are contacting you on behalf of the thousands of constituents, registered voters, and tens of thousands of North Carolina residents who have voted for North Carolina Green Party (NCGP) candidates and who support voter choice in our state. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, National Centers for Disease Control guidelines, and North Carolina Executive Orders 118, 121, 131, 133, 135, 138, 141, 147, 151, 155, 163, and 169 and other state guidelines, the NCGP was not able to campaign in a traditional capacity to achieve 2 percent of the vote for our presidential nominee in 2020. As you know, fairs, festivals, shows, parades, mass gatherings, and other means by which candidates normally campaign and raise money were canceled. Most importantly, we found it socially irresponsible to engage in mass distribution of campaign literature.
Even if the NCGP had chosen to ignore public-safety concerns and engage in public campaigning, the general population was averse to social contact and overwhelmingly followed stay-at-home orders and social-distancing guidelines. Our Green presidential nominee also made the difficult ethical and legal decision to not put volunteer petitioners, canvassers, and voters in harm’s way during this unprecedented pandemic. As a result of the pandemic, our Green candidates were excluded from all debates, excluded from almost all polls, and had almost zero media coverage. This exclusion from media and from normal social events and gatherings made it nearly impossible to get our message out to voters in 2020.
During the 2016 election cycle, the NCGP had certified around 12,000 petition signatures, which would have qualified us to be certified as a party in 2018. The NCGP also qualified to be on the ballot in 2018 and 2020. Therefore, we strongly feel that we have demonstrated enough support to remain a ballot-qualified party, and we would have garnered the same support if not for the pandemic.
Today, Covid-19 cases have reached record levels in our state—far higher than during the March–June 2020 shutdown. Executive Orders 181 and 188 have extended stay-at-home precautions across the state, to avoid the spread of the pandemic. Large gathering events, where we have traditionally gathered signatures, are understandably still prohibited. This has made it next to impossible to physically collect signatures. Even professional signature-gathering firms have found it exponentially difficult in most areas to obtain signatures.
Last year, many states and court rulings dramatically reduced the petition requirements for new parties and independent candidates. The governor of Vermont waived them altogether for independent candidates. States like IL, GA, VA, MD, and NY were court-ordered to reduce their petition requirements. In MN, MD, and NJ, candidates and parties were permitted to collect signatures electronically.
We are asking the Office of the Governor:
- To immediately issue an Emergency Executive Order to the State Board of Elections to keep the North Carolina Green Party certified and/or retain all North Carolina voters presently registered as Green as a Green-Inactive status, honoring their wishes to remain Green Party voters, for a period of 18 months. Please honor the democratic wishes of your constituents to remain registered with the party of their choice.
- To issue a one time Emergency Executive Order to waive the petition requirement for all parties that had ballot access during the last election cycle due to the extreme dangers of petitioning during Covid-19. The NCGP does not wish to ask for special treatment; we ask out of legitimate and urgent concern for the safety of our volunteer members and the general public.
- To issue an Emergency Executive Order to lower by at least 75 percent the petition requirements toward establishing a new political party and to allow provisions for electronic petition signatures toward establishing or re-establishing a political party.
By honoring these few reasonable requests in the interest of the safety of our volunteers and the general public, the office of the governor would be sending this message to North Carolina residents:
- NCGP and other alternative parties should not have to risk the health of their volunteers and the general public to maintain ballot status and survival as a political party. Instead these parties should follow the guidelines of the Executive Order and not participate in dangerous and socially irresponsible public petitioning.
- The state of North Carolina respects the democratic wishes of its constituents to remain registered with their party of choice during the exceptional circumstances of this pandemic.
Governor Cooper, we are confident that you will look beyond partisan politics and make the just and ethical decision to ensure the health, safety, and democratic participation of the residents of North Carolina. You have long argued against voter suppression, and we ask that you honor those same intentions and values by fulfilling our request to uphold democratic participation and voter choice.
Cochairs, North Carolina Green Party