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RFK Jr., Constitution Party nearing ballot access in North Carolina as deadlines loom

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks to supporters during a campaign stop, Monday, May 13, 2024, in Austin, Texas.
Eric Gay
Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks to supporters during a campaign stop, Monday, May 13, 2024, in Austin, Texas.

Friday is the deadline for new political parties to submit signatures to get on the ballot in North Carolina, and two parties appear to have met the initial requirement.

State Board of Elections records show that presidential candidates Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s “We The People Party” and the N.C. Constitution Party have submitted more than the required 13,865 signatures of registered voters to county election offices.

Another third party seeking to get on the ballot in North Carolina, presidential candidate Cornel West’s “Justice For All Party,” submitted 21,723 signatures but only 12,297 of them had been verified as of Thursday afternoon.

The deadline is Friday for parties to submit their petitions to county election boards. But just hitting the 13,865 verified signatures requirement doesn’t guarantee ballot access.

The parties then need to take the petitions to the State Board of Elections in Raleigh for further review before the board votes to certify ballot access. The deadline to bring signatures to Raleigh is June 3, according to elections board spokesman Patrick Gannon.

“The State Board has not received any signatures from We the People,” Gannon said Thursday. “The State Board continues to review signatures provided by the Constitution Party of North Carolina as part of the process to ‘determine the sufficiency of the petition’ as a whole, as required by state law.”

The State Board plans to meet in June to consider ballot access for the Constitution Party. If successful, the party would join the Green Party and No Labels Party in getting the opportunity to put candidates on the ballot.

The board initially voiced skepticism last year about whether No Labels had followed state law for its petition process, but it ultimately voted to recognize the party, which now says it will not be running any candidates this year. The Green Party also faced some hurdles before it gained recognition in 2022.

Kennedy had initially planned to get his name on North Carolina’s ballot as an independent candidate, but that would have required more signatures, and so his campaign is trying to run through the third-party petition process instead.

If the campaign succeeds in getting the “We The People Party” on North Carolina’s ballot, it could change the political calculus for the presidential race in a key swing state.

A poll from the conservative Carolina Journal found Kennedy with 8.8% support in the state earlier this month.

Colin Campbell covers politics for WUNC as the station's capitol bureau chief.