Thursday, September 22, 2005

Libertarians say: NC election laws unconstitutional

Libertarian Party of North Carolina
1821 Hillandale Rd. #1B-253 Durham NC 27705

For more information:
Thomas Hill, chair - 704.455.9200
Sean Haugh - 919.286.0152

Libertarians say: NC election laws unconstitutional

DURHAM (Sept. 21) - North Carolina's election laws deny citizens their rights to free association, free elections, equal protection of the law and the ability to vote for candidates of their choice. They should be declared unconstitutional, the Libertarian Party of North Carolina asserted today in a lawsuit filed in Wake County Superior Court.

The party also requested an injunction to retain Libertarian candidates on the ballots in Charlotte and Winston-Salem and to prevent the county boards of elections from changing the registration of Libertarians to unaffiliated.

The legal action was prompted by an Aug. 22 decision of the state Board of Elections to decertify the Libertarian Party.

The complaint said that when taken as a whole, the statutory regulation of political parties denies Libertarians as well as unaffiliated voters the right to association and expression of their political philosophy. The statutes "impede the ability of political parties other than Democrats and Republicans to place candidates on the ballot and otherwise enjoy the benefits of state recognition."

"What we have now is one set of laws giving special rights to Democrats and Republicans and a different set of laws for third parties and unaffiliated voters," said Sean Haugh, the party's executive director, named as a plaintiff in the suit. "That cannot stand under the NC Constitution."

Several Libertarian candidates are listed as plaintiffs. They are Pamela Guignard and Rusty Sheridan, candidates for Charlotte mayor; Justin Cardone and David Gable, candidates for Charlotte City Council, and; Richard Norman and Thomas Leinbach, candidates for Winston-Salem City Council.

The final plaintiff is Jennifer Schulz, a registered Libertarian voter.

The suit not only challenges the requirements for petitioning to be recognized as a political party and the requisite that a party receive ten percent of the vote statewide to retain recognition, it also seeks to overturn other statutory restrictions on so-called third parties.

These restrictions include the disqualification of members of third parties from the state and county boards of election, the unfavorable placement of third party candidates on the ballot and the prohibition against a third party allowing registered voters of other parties to vote in its primary.

Libertarians also want to overturn statutes that allow state officials to change a voter's registration without their permission when their party is decertified and allow third parties the same use of public buildings granted to Democrats and Republicans.

The suit argues the "state scheme of statutory regulation of political parties" violates several provisions of the state constitution. Specifically it cites: Article I, Sections 1, 12 & 14 which protect the individual's right to freedom of expression and association and to due process;

- Article I, Section 10 which provides "All elections shall be free;"

- Article I, Section 19 which guarantees equal protection of the laws to all citizens;

- Article VI, Section 1 which says all eligible voters shall be entitled to vote in any election, and;

- Article VI, Section 6 which says every qualified voter is eligible for election to office unless otherwise disqualified by the constitution.



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