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Our view: It's not easy voting Green

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The tenets of the Green Party platform doubtless appeal to quite a few liberals (as well as a few conservatives of a certain mindset).

Greens describe themselves as anti-racist, pro-worker — and, of course, as emphasizing environmental consciousness and protection. The party also seeks to reject the undue influence of money that waters down too many policy proposals on both sides.

These are causes with which Democrats typically feel a strong amount of sympathy.

So when it comes to elections, it’s easy to understand how some might see the less-established Green Party as a spoiler party. It could syphon votes that might otherwise go to the Democratic candidates.

The accusation that such concerns are behind the left-leaning state Board of Elections’ rejection of Green Party candidates on the November ballot is a serious matter that requires serious scrutiny. And the Green Party’s lawsuit against the board, filed last week, is one that we hope will illuminate the situation.

The Green Party has been working hard in North Carolina to get its lesser-known candidates on the ballot through the petition process. In the course of its efforts this time around, the party hired an Arkansas firm to help acquire enough valid signatures to meet its goals. It looked as if the party had succeeded when, earlier this year, it submitted a petition with 22,000 signatures — well over the 13,865 required.

But three members of the five-member elections board — the three Democrats — questioned the validity of more than 2,000 signatures and, by vote, rejected the Green Party’s inclusion.

That still left just under 16,000 signatures that the board validated — well over the number required.

The Green Party sued, saying the vote was motivated by the Democrats’ desire to clear the path for their own candidates — especially in what’s expected to be a close senatorial race between Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Budd.

On top of this, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — which is working to elect Beasley and other Democratic candidates nationwide — has acknowledged contacting signatories of the Green Party’s petition to request they retract their signatures.

That’s just underhanded.

The suit also alleges that Democrats did the same while posing as Green Party members.

That would just be dirty.

As if all this weren’t complicated enough, the owner of the firm hired by the Green Party to help collect signatures is refusing to cooperate with state investigators. The state board has subpoenaed him, but just as recalcitrant as any Trump supporter, he’s referring to their efforts as “overreach.”

To channel the ghost of Jimmy Breslin, can’t anybody here play this game?

We’re glad that the matter is going to court, where we hope it will be sorted out properly. The Green Party candidates could still appear on the ballot, if the court orders it so.

On any petition of this sort, there are going to be some signatures that should be disqualified. Some perhaps inebriated half-wits will always think it’s funny to sign “Mickey Mouse” or “Donald Trump.” That’s to be expected.

But any organized attempt to puff up the numbers with phony signatures would be cheating. If the Green Party or the firm representing it did engage in some kind of mischief to reach its goal, the party deserves to be excluded. And those who committed the mischief should be punished.

But if the Democratic members of the state board invalidated the party’s inclusion for political reasons, they, too, should be punished. Such action would be a violation of the public’s trust. It would also be injurious to the Democratic Party, which has made a lot of hay out of both deceitful Republican tactics to suppress votes and its own efforts to support widespread, free and fair democracy.

Politics today is complicated and convoluted — a situation that has, no doubt, contributed to the loss of membership in both major political parties and the increase in voters who have registered as independent. Dirty-tricks shenanigans just increase the distrust.

All qualifying parties should be allowed to make their case to the voters: Here’s what we stand for, here’s what we pledge to do. An appealing platform should make for a better chance of winning.

And in a state in which many are thirsting for alternatives to what “politics as usual” has become, including more options could be transformational.

Let’s hope this is resolved quickly in a manner that benefits voters.

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