Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Press Conference and Public Forum for NC Ballot Access

A press release from Brian Irving. I will be there!

Political parties, electoral reform groups unite to Free the Ballot in North Carolina

A diverse group of political parties and nonprofit organizations is asking the North Carolina General Assembly to establish fair requirements for independent and third-party candidates who wish to run for partisan office in the state.

The coalition, which includes Libertarians, Greens and members of the Constitution Party, calls North Carolina's ballot access restrictions prohibitive and supports the passage of the Electoral Fairness Act of 2005 (House Bill 88) in its original form.

"We may have different political views, but we all believe North Carolina would have a healthier system if it allowed more people to participate in elections," said Hart Matthews, director of the NC Green Party.

Respected nonprofit organizations from the across the state, including Common Cause North Carolina, Democracy North Carolina and North Carolina Public Interest Research Group (NCPIRG), join these third parties in asking the legislature to open North Carolina's elections to its citizens.

Press Conference:
Announcing the formation of the NC Open Elections Coalition and answering questions about the state's ballot access laws.
9am, Tuesday, June 27
Senate Press Room
NC General Assembly Legislative Building, Jones St., Raleigh

Public Forum:
"Left Out and Kept Out"
A discussion of North Carolina's restrictive ballot access laws
7pm, Monday, June 26
Founder's Hall
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh
3313 Wade Avenue, Raleigh

North Carolina has the third most restrictive ballot access requirements for political parties in the nation. These barriers prevent any third party from successfully maintaining a consistent presence in the political arena.

The Electoral Fairness Act of 2005 (House Bill 88) in its original form would have reduced by three-fourths the signatures required for a third party to be certified in North Carolina. Currently, a third party must raise more than 69,000 signatures.

Because one-third of petition signatures cannot be verified, a third party must raise roughly 105,000 signatures, or one signature for every 73 residents of the state, to be assured of getting onto North Carolina's ballot. No third party has ever met that requirement without the use of professional petitioners.

As it was introduced, House Bill 88 would reduce that requirement to one-half of one percent, or roughly 17,000 verified signatures, an improvement that would still leave North Carolina in the top-20 most restrictive states.

House Bill 88 passed out of two House committees by unanimous vote last year. On the last day of the session, at 2:30 a.m., Rep. Phil Haire (D-Sylva) introduced an amendment that restored the signature requirements to their current level. The bill passed the House in that form.

Because the deadline for submitting signatures has been moved forward four months, House Bill 88 in its current form would make third party ballot access even more difficult.

But getting onto the ballot in North Carolina is not the hardest part. A third party that achieves ballot access must still poll 10 percent in the gubernatorial or presidential race to stay on the ballot. That has happened only once in the last century, which means that in all likelihood a third party must start over every four years.

The Electoral Fairness Act would have reduced the vote threshold from 10 percent to 2 percent, but that improvement was also torpedoed by Rep. Haire's early morning amendment.

The NC Open Elections Coalition asks the NC General Assembly to restore House Bill 88 to its original form and pass it without further amendment.

"People vote when they feel they can make a difference," said Matthews. "In a state where less than half of eligible adults vote, we should be doing everything we can to increase the choices on the ballot."

"These ballot barriers limit voter choice, result in many candidates running unopposed and suppress voter turnout," said Brian Irving of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina. "It's time to restore free, fair and open elections to North Carolina."

House Bill 88 currently resides in the NC Senate Judiciary I Committee.

For more facts and resources on ballot access requirements, visit the NC Open Elections Coalition.


Post a Comment

<< Home