North Carolina elections board finds some voters didn’t know purpose of RFK Jr. and Cornel West petitions when they signed

North Carolina’s elections board has deferred a decision on allowing Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornel West on the state’s ballot after learning that some voters who signed petitions to help the independent presidential hopefuls gain ballot access did not understand the purpose of those petitions.

The findings potentially lend credence to some of the objections filed by allies of President Joe Biden seeking to block access for the two candidates in the key battleground state.

At a North Carolina State Board of Elections hearing on Tuesday, board staff shared that they had reached out to voters who signed petitions to help the minor parties established by Kennedy and West to gain ballot access in the state and found that some of them “were not told the purpose and intent or did not understand the purpose and intent” of the petitions they signed.

In its objections to both Kennedy and West’s ballot access, the pro-Biden super PAC Clear Choice claimed that both candidates were “misleading” voters who signed their petitions, arguing that the candidates had violated a state law that requires newly formed political parties to inform signers of the “general purpose and intent” of the party.

An elections board staff member reached out to 26 voters who signed the Kennedy campaign’s petition to get his We The People party on the ballot and 66 people who signed the West campaign’s petition to help his Justice For All party qualify.

West’s campaign submitted over 17,000 validated signatures, while Kennedy’s campaign submitted over 18,500 validated signatures. Minor parties must submit at least 13,000 valid signatures to be considered for approval by North Carolina’s elections board.

Board staff also spoke to 12 North Carolina voters who said they did not recall signing petitions to help West qualify for the state’s ballot. None of the Kennedy petition signatories recalled not supporting his ballot access, staff said.

The elections board did not take action Tuesday, with board chair Alan Hirsch saying that staffers were still reviewing materials submitted during the petition process for both minor parties.

Tuesday’s brief meeting revealed partisan tensions on the five-seat board, which features three Democrats and two Republicans. The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee criticized the board for delaying a ruling at a hearing last month.

Following last month’s hearing, a conservative-aligned group called Fair Election Fund launched an ad campaign targeting the Democratic members of the board for “blocking Biden’s competition from the ballot.”

Kevin Lewis, a Republican elections board member, suggested Tuesday that the board had an ulterior reason for delaying a ruling, saying, “Your motives are being questioned.”

Democratic board member Siobhan O’Duffy Millen criticized the attacks on the board, citing the Fair Election Fund ads.

“Some of the rhetoric is a little bit out of hand,” O’Duffy Millen said. “Some of these ads that are very personal are unfortunate.”

Meanwhile, Kennedy has qualified for Minnesota’s presidential ballot, a state elections official told CNN on Tuesday. He’s also qualified in Michigan, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Delaware, California, Hawaii and Utah – making him eligible to compete for 110 electoral votes in total. The Kennedy campaign has either gained ballot access, submitted paperwork or completed signature collecting in 27 states so far.

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