Friday, August 19, 2005

NC Ballot Access News

We interrupt our coverage for this important commercial announcement. Here is a message I sent to our LPNC membership earlier this evening. (I don't care what the time stamp says, it's still Thursday until I go to bed.) Even if you do not live in NC, there's a way you can help at the end of this message.

Dear Friends in Liberty, there’s a lot of ballot access news to report to you, some good, some maybe not so good, and some downright defiant news.

The dicey news is that the State Board of Elections has scheduled a conference call meeting for Monday at 4.30pm and we’re on the agenda. Under North Carolina statutes, they could vote to decertify us at that time. We have provided them with plenty of sound arguments why they should not kick us off the ballot. LPNC’s Chair Thomas Hill and Executive Director Sean Haugh (that’s me) will be in attendance to make our case. We are hopeful of a positive outcome, especially in light of the timing of the good news.

The good news is that NC House Bill 88, the Electoral Fairness Act, is being heard on Tuesday morning in the House Finance Committee meeting at 8.30am in room 544 of the Legislative Office Building. That’s the one behind the main General Assembly building on Jones St. in Raleigh.

If passed, H88 would reduce the number of signatures needed to keep our place on the NC ballot to 25% of what it is now, and reduce our vote total requirement to stay on the ballot from 10% or Governor or President to 2% in those races.

If passed, we *already* have enough signatures to be done with our current ballot drive. If it doesn’t pass then we will have to collect an estimated 75,000 more signatures, at a cost approaching $100,000. Obviously we have great incentive for this bill to become law now!

We need people at the Finance Committee meeting! Please call Sean Haugh at 919-286-0152 or write to him at director@lpnc.org if you can attend or if you have any questions about this committee hearing.

We also need you to call or write the Representatives on the Finance Committee and tell them to vote FOR H88! Even if you have written already, send another email. If you have called already, call again. There are some talking points for your message later in this email.

When Thomas and I went to lobby these people for our bill a couple weeks ago, many of the Representatives we saw mentioned they had received your messages. That’s how it works folks, they have so much to consider that you need to push your concerns to the front of their minds. You have done this! Thank you! Now we need you to do it again.

Here is the list of House Finance Committee members who *especially* need to hear from you:

Chairman, Rep. Pryor Gibson (Union), 419A LOB, 919-715-3007, pryorg@ncleg.net
Chairman, Rep. Julia Howard (Davie), 1106, 919-733-5904, juliah@ncleg.net
Chairman, Rep. Danny McComas (New Hanover), 506 LOB, 919-733-5786, dannym@ncleg.net
Chairman, Rep. William Wainwright (Craven), 532 LOB, 919-733-5995, williamw@ncleg.net
Vice Chairman, Rep. Bill Daughtridge (Nash), 304B LOB, 919-733-5802, billd@ncleg.net
Vice Chairman, Rep. Larry Womble (Forsyth), 534 LOB 919-733-5777, larryw@ncleg.net
Rep. Bernard Allen (Wake), 1325, 919-733-5772, bernarda@ncleg.net
Rep. Curtis Blackwood (Union), 1317, 919-733-2406, curtisb@ncleg.net
Rep. Alice Bordsen (Alamance), 530 LOB, 919-733-5820, aliceb@ncleg.net
Rep. Russell Capps (Wake), 501 LOB, 919-733-5903, russellc@ncleg.net
Rep. Becky Carney (Mecklenburg), 1221, 919-733-5827, beckyc@ncleg.net
Rep. Bobby England (Rutherford), 2219, 919-733-5749, bobe@ncleg.net
Rep. Bill Faison (Orange), 537 LOB, 919-715-3019, billf@ncleg.net
Rep. Susan Fisher (Buncombe), 420 LOB, 919-715-2013, susanf@ncleg.net
Rep. Dale Folwell (Forsyth), 508 LOB, 919-733-5787, dalef@ncleg.net
Rep. Rick Glazier (Cumberland), 2215, 919-733-5601, rickg@ncleg.net
Rep. Bruce Goforth (Buncombe), 1220, 919-733-5746, bruceg@ncleg.net
Rep. Joe Hackney (Orange), 2207, 919-733-5752, joeh@ncleg.net
Rep. Jim Harrell (Surry), 403 LOB, 919-715-1883, jimha@ncleg.net
Rep. Verla Insko (Orange), 2121, 919-733-7208, verlai@ncleg.net
Rep. Earl Jones (Guilford), 536 LOB, 919-733-5825, earlj@ncleg.net
Rep. Marvin Lucas (Cumberland), 1323, 919-733-5775, marvinl@ncleg.net
Rep. Alice Underhill (Craven), 1206, 919-733-5853, aliceu@ncleg.net
Rep. Doug Vinson (Mecklenburg), 1010, 919-733-5886, dougv@ncleg.net

Please also take the time to THANK those Finance Committee members who have voiced support for the Electoral Fairness Act. Some of these folks are on the fence, some are strong supporters, but all have said they are inclined to vote for our bill. Of particular note, Reps. Luebke, Rayfield and Weiss (along with non-committee members Paul Miller and Paul Stam) are sponsors of our bill and Reps. Alexander, Lewis and Ross have worked hard to move it along. Now is the time to thank them and tell them to stay strong:

Chairman, Rep. Martha Alexander (Mecklenburg), 2208, 919-733-5807, marthaa@ncleg.net
Chairman, Rep. Paul Luebke (Durham), 529 LOB, 919-733-7663, paull@ncleg.net
Vice Chairman, Rep. Dewey Hill (Columbus), 1309, 919-733-5830, deweyh@ncleg.net
Vice Chairman, Rep. Deborah Ross (Wake), 2203, 919-733-5773, deborahr@ncleg.net
Vice Chairman, Rep. Jennifer Weiss (Wake), 2221, 919-733-5781, jenniferw@ncleg.net
Rep. John Blust (Guilford), 1420, 919-733-5806, johnbl@ncleg.net (yes)
Rep. Jerry Dockham (Davidson), 1424, 919-715-2526, jerryd@ncleg.net
Rep. Hugh Holliman (Davidson), 1213, 919-715-0873, hughh@ncleg.net
Rep. David Lewis (Harnett), 509 LOB 919-715-3015, davidl@ncleg.net
Rep. Bill McGee (Forsyth), 531 LOB, 919-733-5747, williamm@ncleg.net
Rep. John Rayfield (Gaston), 510 LOB, 919-733-5868, johnr@ncleg.net
Rep. Trudi Walend (Transylvania), 1015, 919-715-4466, trudiw@ncleg.net
Rep. Laura Wiley (Guilford), 513 LOB, 919-733-5877, lauraw@ncleg.net

Here is a sample letter to help you compose your personal message to your Representatives. It is better if you write in your own words, and best of all if you live in the district of the legislator you are writing. But the important thing is that you write! They won’t know how to vote unless you tell them how.

“Dear Rep. [name],

“I hope that this message reaches you in good spirits.

“H88, the Electoral Fairness Act, would encourage North Carolinians to vote by giving them more choices at the ballot box.

“Our President George Bush, when asked about the recent election in Iran, denounced them saying, ‘it was designed to maintain power in the hands of an unelected few who denied ballot access to more than 1,000 people who wanted to run.’ He is right to stand up for ballot access around the world. Will you join our President and stand up for ballot access in North Carolina?

“In the recent Supreme Court decision in Clingman v. Beaver, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, joined by Justice Stephen Breyer, wrote that if all of Oklahoma ballot access law were properly brought before them, ‘the Court would want to examine the cumulative burdens imposed by the overall scheme of electoral regulations upon the rights of voters and parties to associate through primary elections. A panoply of regulations, each apparently defensible when considered alone, may nevertheless have the combined effect of severely restricting participation and competition. Even if each part of a regulatory regime might be upheld if challenged separately, one or another of these parts might have to fall if the overall scheme unreasonably curtails associational freedoms.’ Note that Oklahoma ballot access law is extremely similar to North Carolina’s. If you won’t lower the unconstitutional restrictions on free association through ballot access, we will have no choice but to seek redress in court. If O’Connor and Breyer’s concurrence in Clingman is to be believed, it’s a case that you can’t win.

“According to Ballot Access News, North Carolina currently is ranked 47th in the country for ballot access fairness. If passed, H88 would bring North Carolina to the median among all states in this critical aspect of free and fair elections.

“For example, NC was one of only three states in the country where votes for presidential candidate Ralph Nader in 2000 were not counted. The Libertarian Party had to spend $100,000 on a nine month petition drive just to maintain their ballot access.

“Clearly, our current laws are too restrictive to parties with significant grassroots support in NC. They are not in line with ballot access requirements in neighboring states. Worse still, they are unfair to the voters, who are stay away from the voting booths in part because they don’t have enough choices to satisfy them.

“I ask for your support of the Electoral Fairness Act to make our political system in North Carolina fair and competitive. I believe, as I am sure you do, that the people of our great state deserve a choice at the ballot box.

“Thank you for your time and for your potential support on this very important issue.

“Best wishes,
“[your name and contact info]”

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about the defiant news. It is time we take the fight to court!

The last time I wrote to you about ballot access, I told you we were beginning to look into legal action against ballot access law. There has been significant progress on this front. We have begun negotiations with an attorney to take our case and are preparing to file in state court.

We feel we have a very strong case. Very similar cases have been won since 1982 in Alaska, Maryland and Michigan, and one is being fought in Oklahoma right now. We are collecting our evidence and honing our arguments with a goal to be ready to file by the end of next week if we have to.

If the State Board of Elections votes to decertify us, we will have to file immediately so we can protect our strong candidates in Charlotte and Winston-Salem, where city council elections are partisan. If the General Assembly adjourns for the year without passing the Electoral Fairness Act, we can’t wait another year. Our resolve is firm.

The ONLY thing that will prevent us from suing the state now over ballot access is if the General Assembly passes our bill before they get out of town in the next week or so. That’s why we need you to write these Representatives now!

Meanwhile, we have to keep collecting signatures and raising money. As hard as we are fighting, we still cannot count upon any relief from either the legislature or the courts. We can’t afford sit back and wait.

Please visit our ballot access page. Download the petition and pass it around. Give money if you can so we can hire a great lawyer and productive professional petitioners.

Any way and every way you can help is appreciated! It takes a lot of work to create a political party, but that’s exactly what you are doing here in North Carolina. Every bit of progress we make happens because you sent in a $100 donation, or made a $25 monthly pledge, or sent an email to your Representative, or wrote a letter to the editor, or showed up at your city council meeting, or registered to vote Libertarian, or even just mailed in your own signature on our petition.

Take your contribution and add it to those from thousands of Libertarians all across North Carolina, and what you get is a strong voice for Liberty that elects Libertarians to office and changes public policy for the better. What you get for your contribution is more freedom.

Thank you!

yours in liberty –
Sean Haugh
Executive Director, Libertarian Party of NC

To subscribe or unsubscribe to LPNC Announcements, please reply to this message or send email to director@lpnc.org.

2 Comments:

Anonymous GregD said...

Sean,

We went through the same thing here in Michigan. I would urge you to read my not-so-fictional story about that situation on my blog at:
http://www.smallgov.org/?p=30
"Evil Keith and the Ballot Access Law."

8:11 AM  
Anonymous George Whitfield said...

Hello Sean,
I am shocked to hear of the NC Libertarian Party ballot loss. The last time I had heard anything about the petitioning was on the Badnarik for President website and he was requesting people to go to North Carolina to get petition signers on election day at the polls. Then I recall seeing in Ballot Access News a couple of months ago, the number of petition signers and it struck may as looking low given the requirement.
Anyway, I am going to send a contribution to help you guys out. I think the North Carolina Party is too important to write off.
Good luck in court but don't count on it.
Regards,
George Whitfield

8:04 AM  

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