RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — There's another new official political party in North Carolina that can field candidates in November's general elections.

The state elections board voted Wednesday to recognize the Constitution Party of North Carolina after group members collected more than 12,000 valid signatures from registered voters before a deadline. The Constitution Party joins the recently recognized Green Party in North Carolina as a new party. The two parties are holding conventions later this month to choose nominees for this fall.

Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians already have established state parties. The official designation means voters can register with any of the five parties or as unaffiliated.

The General Assembly passed a law last fall reducing drastically the previous signature threshold of more than 90,000 registered voters. The law also created a new option for recognition if a party had candidates on ballots in at least 35 states in the most recent presidential election. It was this new option that allowed the Green Party to become an official party.

Previous efforts to lower the signature threshold through legislation or litigation had failed.

"This has been ten years in the making and we are very excited," state Constitutional Party Chairman Al Pisano said in a news release, calling the party a "serious and viable option for people who are fed up with what is going on in Washington and Raleigh."

The Constitution Party, which emphasizes fiscal conservatism, a strict reading of the U.S. Constitution, religious freedom and opposition to abortion, hopes to field 15 to 20 candidates for the legislature, Congress and county commissions, a party official said recently.

An elections administration bill finalized by the General Assembly this week and now on Gov. Roy Cooper's desk would prevent candidates who lost in the May party primaries from being Green or Constitution Party nominees for the same office during the fall elections. A "sore loser" provision already in effect under current law prohibits people defeated in a primary from running for the same office as a write-in or unaffiliated candidate.

Kevin Hayes, the state Constitution Party's vice chairman, urged Cooper to veto the measure because the new parties have already started their nomination process.

"Changing the rules in the middle of an election is not only wrong but will be challenged in court," Hayes said in a news release.

After this year, the Green and Constitution parties would hold primary elections like other official parties.

A new party would have to meet the lower signature threshold if the party fails to have candidates on ballots in at least 35 states in 2020, and if the party's candidates for president and governor in North Carolina each fail to get at least 2 percent of the vote.