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Judge orders NC Democrats to pay some of Green Party's legal fees from ballot battle

Kyle Ingram, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in News & Features

A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the North Carolina Democratic Party to pay partial legal fees to the Green Party arising out of a battle over ballot access for the progressive third party in 2022.

In his order, U.S. District Judge James Dever III wrote that some of the Democrats’ efforts to intervene in a lawsuit over the Green Party’s ability to run candidates were “frivolous” and “without foundation.”

“This is a huge victory that was never about money,” Oliver Hall, the party’s lawyer, said in a statement. “It was about holding the Democrats accountable for their improper and unfounded efforts to suppress North Carolina voters’ choice.”

Dever ordered the party and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee to pay $6,525 in legal fees — far lower than the Greens’ initial request, which was almost $60,000.

The N.C. Democratic Party and the DSCC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

What did the Green Party sue over?

After initially having their petition for party recognition denied by the State Board of Elections in the summer of 2022, the Green Party sued the board in federal court.

The N.C. Democratic Party and the DSCC quickly intervened in the case as defendants.

 

The DSCC had also contacted voters who signed the Green Party’s petition asking them to remove their signatures, saying that having the Greens on the ballot could hurt Democrats’ election chances.

The State Board later reversed its decision, officially recognizing the Green Party. However, it did so after the candidate filing deadline, meaning the party needed a court order in order to get its candidates on the 2022 ballot.

That August, Dever ruled that the Green Party must be allowed to place candidates on the 2022 ballot. The Democrats filed motions attempting to keep Dever’s ruling from going into effect, but were unsuccessful.

These motions were likely to fail and motivated by fear that voters may choose Green Party candidates instead of Democrats, Dever wrote in his order on Tuesday.

The Green Party was able to run two candidates in the 2022 elections: Matthew Hoh for U.S. Senate and Michael Trudeau for N.C. Senate. Neither candidate won.

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