As previously noted, on February 27, the Fourth Circuit upheld North Carolina’s May petition deadline for newly-qualifying parties. On March 13, the plaintiff Constitution Party and Green Party asked for a rehearing en banc (“en banc” means that all the full-time judges of the Fourth Circuit are being asked to re-examine the earlier decision).
The parties’ request for reconsideration argues that the earlier decision is erroneous because it upheld the failure of the U.S. District Court to allow the parties to engage in discovery. In the U.S. District Court, the parties wanted to question state election officials about the state’s claim that the state needs a deadline as early as May, in order to have time to check the signatures. But the U.S. District Court refused to allow discovery.
It seems obvious that North Carolina does not need a May deadline to check signatures, because the state allows a June deadline for independent candidates, and statewide independent candidates need just as many signatures as minor parties. Furthermore, in 1988, the state waived the minor party petition deadline and was still able to check the New Alliance Party petition, even though those signatures were not submitted until July. And in 2004 the state also permitted independent candidates to file their signatures in July, due to late redistricting.