Thursday, September 22, 2005

I Sued the State!

Whooooo-hooooo! I sued the state of NC and I am going to kick their collective butts! Well, to be honest the entire Libertarian Party of NC is suing, but I made sure my name is on there first. Bartlett v Haugh, has a nice ring to it, doncha think?

You can read an AP newswire story here.

I think this feeling is even better than when I got to vote for myself for US Senate.

The lawsuit is so far-reaching that even I am still discovering all the consequences. Our attorney Michael Crowell and his staff have put together an argument brilliant and elegant in its simplicity, one that will shake NC election law to its core.

Basically what we have today is one set of laws with extra special rights for Democrats and Republicans and another set with ridciulous burdens and barriers for everybody else. If you look at the NC Consititution, espcially where it talks about how all elections shall be free, and again where it says all people get equal protection under the law, it's obvious that this cannot be tolerated.

What we have right now is a system run by and for the benefit of two political parties, while the truth is that political parties should only be instruments for the people to use to freely associate and maximize their own participation in our elections.

I'm just so excited!!! We're suing the state and we're going to win! We have the best lawyers in the state and a strong and simple argument that can only be denied by corruption and oppression.

I sued the state!!! Whoooo-hooooo !!!!!!!

Progress Report: Lawsuit Filed!

Our lawsuit has been filed! Wednesday afternoon, the Libertarian Party of NC filed suit against the NC State Board of Elections and the local boards in Forsyth and Mecklenburg Counties. We anticipate our request for a temporary restraining order to prevent our candidates in Charlotte and Winston-Salem from being taken off the ballot will be heard in the next couple days.

Thank you for your help! On Sunday I asked you to contribute towards our legal fees and you responded with over $2600 in donations. It was far and away our most successful email request for funds ever. That allowed us to pay the first installment on the retainer for our attorneys. Thank you!

I’m excited about our lawsuit! Our argument is very simple. North Carolina has two sets of elections laws, one for Democrats and Republicans and another for everybody else. That cannot be allowed to continue under the NC Constitution. Our main goals are to eliminate the excessively high signature requirement to get on the ballot and the retention requirement to stay on it. But we are also asking the court to strike down all other laws which give Democrats and Republicans special privileges over other voters. Here are just a few examples:

* Only Democrats and Republicans are allowed to be appointed to the State and County Boards of Elections.

* Only Democrats and Republicans are allowed to select precinct officials at the polls.

* Only Democrats and Republicans are given a guarantee for public space for their conventions and other meetings.

* Only Democrats and Republicans are allowed to have their candidates listed at the top of the ballot.

This is not your typical ballot access lawsuit. For the first time, the entire basis of our election law will be under scrutiny. What we have now is a system that is run by and for the benefit of two political parties. What we need, and what is demanded under the NC Constitution, is a system where political parties only serve to help all voters participate fully in our elections.

While we were able to cover the down payment on our lawsuit costs, we estimate the entire project will cost anywhere between $40,000 and $80,000. Please help us carry this important lawsuit forward!

Meanwhile, we still have to petition in order to get the Libertarian Party back on the ballot for 2006. We can’t expect any legal relief in time for next year’s elections, so we must not ignore our petitioning efforts.

Fortunately there are many fantastic opportunities to gather lots of petition signatures right in front of us. One-stop voting for local primaries begins today and runs through October 8th. Primary elections are held on October 11th. If you are looking for registered voters to sign our petition, what better location is there than the polls themselves? Please check with your county board of elections to find out where one-stop voting is taking place in your county.

This is also Fair season, and Libertarians will be at them all. The next big event is the Dixie Classic Fair in Winston-Salem, which runs from September 30-October 9. We need many volunteers to staff our booth, gather petition signatures and tell the fairgoers about the Libertarian Party. Please contact Lee Wrights at to find out what shifts are available, or visit the Forsyth County LP website.

We’ll also be at the State Fair again in Raleigh, October 14-23. We need a minimum of two people, and preferably three or four for each shift. Not only is the State Fair far and away one of our best petitioning and outreach opportunities, it’s a whole lot of fun! Please contact LPNC Outreach Director Jim Pitts at to find out when you can help.

We also need volunteers for Durham’s Centerfest on the weekend of October 8-9. Please contact Sean Haugh at to find out what shifts are available for that fun event.

Besides fairs and elections, there are many other great opportunities to circulate the petition. Please visit our ballot access page to download the petition and learn the best locations and methods for petitioning.

Whether you can collect signatures or not, we also need to hire many paid petitioners to complete this task. North Carolina ballot access laws are so strict that we have to spend as much as $125,000 just to get the signatures needed to get back on the ballot. We have to complete this process by June 1, 2006, to get Libertarian candidates back on the ballot for 2006 and 2008.

Please make your best possible ballot access donation now here so we can continue to move forward. Thanks!

These are monumental tasks ahead of us, but we must complete them successfully to continue the fight for Liberty at the ballot box in North Carolina. Everything we accomplish is based on a $100 donation here or a handful of signatures there. Your individual contribution may not seem like much to you, but taken together we have already proven many times that Libertarians can amass the resources needed to win these fights. Now we need to do it again!

If you can donate over the website, please visit:

If you have signatures to send in or prefer to write a check, please send them to our mailing address:

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

Thank you!

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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.


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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New Issue at LFA

We are fully back in the swing of things from our summer hiatus at Liberty For All. As you can see from today's other post I decided to reprint one of my old favorites, Do-ocracy. Hope you don't mind, but it seemed particularly timely again.

I've also updated the links to include the most wonderful Brad Blog, a new LPNC blog from our Press Secretary and all around good guy Brain Irving, and two bits of wonderful levity in the Freeway Blogger and get your war on.

I'll be putting up a special section for LPNC candidates next. Whoo-hooo! I love our candidates!