Sunday, September 18, 2005

Libertarians are Suing the State

To paraphrase Mark Twain, news of our demise is greatly exaggerated.

By now you’ve probably heard that the State Board of Elections voted to decertify the Libertarian Party as an officially recognized party in North Carolina. If you have not yet received a letter from your county’s Board of Elections telling you that we are no longer recognized, you will soon.

Don’t be discouraged! The Libertarian Party of NC is bigger now than it has ever been, and it is growing! The day the State Board of Elections decertified our party was the very same day we reached over 13,000 registered Libertarian voters in NC for the first time in our history.

How can this be? How can we lose our status as a political party when we are more numerous, more active and more influential than ever before?

The culprit is the General Assembly of North Carolina. According to Ballot Access News, our state has the third hardest ballot access restrictions in the country. They have set the bar so high because they don’t want you to have any choices on the ballot. It takes fewer signatures to get on the ballot in the whole country of Russia. There are dozens more political parties in Iraq. Something is wrong with this picture.

We will not go away. We will not let them slam the door in our face. We will fight! Libertarians are suing the state!

The Libertarian Party has existed in North Carolina for over 25 years. We have been on the ballot on and off since 1978, and continuously since 1996. In that time we have run hundreds of candidates for every office, and elected Libertarians all across the state.

Unfortunately, the Democrats and Republicans in Raleigh want to keep the ballot to themselves. They want to deny your choices at the ballot so only they can have the power to run this state and your life. They can’t stand the notion that the people just might want to run their own lives.

Our case is very simple. North Carolina’s ballot access restrictions cannot be squared the NC Constitution, which says that all elections shall be free and that with very few restrictions every voter shall be eligible for election by the people to office.

Now that we have been denied our place on the ballot, we can easily prove that our elections are not free and that indeed many voters are deemed ineligible to seek public office. Three very similar cases have been fought and won since 1982 (in Alaska, Maryland and Michigan) and one is being fought right now in Oklahoma.

Most election law litigation has picked at the edges, asking courts to strike down one bad aspect of the law. We are taking a different approach. We will be asking the court to strike down all of North Carolina ballot access law and replace it with something that will give the voters truly free and fair elections. We are also going to ask the court to strike down any aspect of election law which gives Democrats and Republicans special voting rights and leaves all other voters out in the cold.

We are hiring a lawyer who has the very most experience with election law in this state. We have learned from our own experience and that of others who have sued their states that when it comes to legal help, you get what you pay for. We are prepared to raise the resources necessary to hire the very best representation.

We are not alone in this fight. The Green Party of NC also stands to gain if we are victorious and will become a strong partner in our suit. Many other partisan and nonpartisan political organizations and people from all across the political spectrum have also volunteered to help, including Common Cause, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg League of Women Voters, the NC ACLU, NC Supreme Court candidate Rachel Hunter and Winston-Salem City Councilman Vernon Robinson.

More will join with us along the way. The Libertarian Party has raised a banner for giving the voters choices at the ballot, and people from all over the map are flocking to it. We are the leaders in this fight and everybody knows it. While we are fighting for our own survival, we are standing for something that will benefit all the people of North Carolina.

Our goal is to file our lawsuit early this week. It will probably have already happened by the time you read this letter. We have to act fast for two reasons. We have to demand that our candidates in Charlotte and Winston-Salem who had already filed for city council be placed back on the ballot. We also have to demand that you retain your right to remain registered to vote as a Libertarian.

We need to raise $10,000 right now to pay our lawyer’s retainer. The estimated cost of the lawsuit could go as high as $80,000, depending on how many people have to be deposed or called to testify on our behalf and whether or not the state appeals when we defeat them in court. We’ll be asking for some immediate injunctive relief, but my best guess is that the entire case could take as long as two years.

We need your help to get this started! We have already raised a large part of the retainer, but we need your help to get over the top.

If you have ever thought about giving the Libertarian Party $1000 or more, now would be the best time to do that. If you have given us $250 before, please think about sending $500 this time. If you have given $25 before, please consider sending us $50 now.

If you have never donated to the Libertarian Party of NC before, now is the best time to start! As I said above, we are proud of our record in how we have spent your money before because we understand it’s your money that you are giving to your party.

If you want free and fair elections in NC, now is the time to contribute! If you want to see Libertarians back on the ballot this year and every year, now is the time to contribute!

Thank you for everything you have done to bring the Libertarian Party to the main stage of North Carolina politics. Together, I know we will eventually emerge victorious! The only way we can be defeated is if we quit!

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Blogger Sean Haugh said...

If you've wondered where I've been lately, well, now you know.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Cicero said...

I sent in a donation.

Give 'em hell, Sean!

9:56 PM  

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