Wednesday, June 07, 2006

NC Open Elections Coalition

From my dear friend and colleague Brian Irving:

Dear Friends of Liberty,

Did you know that North Carolina has arguably the most restrictive ballot access laws in the nation. That third parties, after collecting roughly 100,000 signatures to get on the ballot, routinely lose their ballot access each election cycle? Perhaps you do know that North Carolina ranks in the bottom fifteen states in terms of voter turnout?

This November, more than half of all state legislative races will have only one candidate. Opening the ballot to independents and third parties is one way North Carolina could increase ballot choice, citizen interest and voter turnout. (An independent redistricting committee, same-day voter registration and legislative ethics reform are other important steps to bolster citizen participation.)

The Electoral Fairness Act of 2005 (House Bill 88) was initially designed to reduce the burden on third parties and independent candidates. It would have reduced the signatures required for ballot access by three-fourths and the votes needed to remain on the ballot by four-fifths. House Bill 88 passed two House committees unanimously last year, but it was amended early in the morning on the last day of the legislative session and passed in a form that would make getting on the ballot even more difficult for third parties.

Visit this page to sign a petition asking the NC General Assembly to pass House Bill 88 in its original form.

At 69,734 verified signatures, North Carolina's ballot access requirement for political parties is the third most restrictive in the nation. A federal court recently overturned North Carolina's signature requirement for independent candidates, which stood at roughly 100,000, the second highest in the country.

A great majority of states require 10,000 or fewer signatures for independent candidates to get on the statewide ballot. Many states require 10,000 or fewer signatures for political parties as well, and nine states require 5,000 or fewer signatures for both independents and parties.

As it was amended at the end of the long session, the Electoral Fairness Act would preserve the state's current signature requirement for third parties (69,734 verified signatures) and move the signature deadline forward four months, effectively making ballot access even more difficult.

We can do something about North Carolina's restrictive elections process. Ask your state legislators to improve voter participation in North Carolina. Ask them to restore House Bill 88 to its original form!

Click here to sign the petition today!

Brian Irving
NC Open Elections Coalition

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Free the Ballot!

North Carolina Ballot Access Facts:

- North Carolina has the third most restrictive signature requirements for political parties in the nation (69,734 verified signatures) and, until the state's individual requirement was overturned in federal court, the second most restrictive for independent candidates.

- More than two-thirds of U.S. states require 10,000 or fewer signatures for independent ballot access.

- Twenty-one states, including South Carolina and Maryland, require 10,000 or fewer signatures for political parties.

- Nine states require 5,000 or fewer signatures for both parties and independents.

- Because roughly one-third of all signatures cannot be validated, a political party in North Carolina must raise more than 104,601 signatures to be sure of getting ballot access. That's one signature for every 73 people in the state.

- Our tax money pays county board-of-elections officials to verify every one of those petition signatures.

- No third party has ever met the North Carolina signature requirement without the use of professional petitioners.

- After each four-year election cycle, if a third party does not receive ten percent of the vote for governor or president, the party is de-certified and has to start all over again.

- The Libertarian Party of North Carolina has been certified eight times, often spending nine months and $100,000 on the effort, only to start again after the gubernatorial election.

Join the NC Open Elections Coalition in demanding free, fair and open elections in North Carolina! Sign the petition now!


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