NC Makes Ballot Access Slightly Easier

Following up our previous post on North Carolina’s crazy ballot access laws, state senators voted today to give a small concession to third parties, by letting any party that gets 2% of the gubernatorial votes to validate as a state party, but stopped short of fixing the massive signature requirements to get on the ballot in the first place:

Only one third party candidate in contemporary North Carolina history has ever met the 2 percent standard. Scott McLaughlin, a Libertarian candidate for governor, drew 4 percent of the vote in 1992.

Senators declined to change North Carolina’s signature requirement for small parties to get on the ballot. The state demands about 69,000 signatures from new parties to get on the ballot, a standard that ranks among the most difficult in the nation, according to the N.C. Open Elections Coalition.

Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger offered a floor amendment that would have lowered the signature standard to about 17,000.

“There are a number of other parties _ a number of other ideas out there,” said Berger, R-Rockingham. “People believe that neither Republicans nor Democrats represent their views, and they have a right to have someone represent them in their government.”

Berger’s motion failed by four votes.

It’s a small victory, but at least we’re heading in the right direction.

14 Comments
  1. Thanks, but in its current form overall the bill is very negative. The reduction in the retention requirement means little if you can’t get on the ballot in the first place, and this bill adds a filing fee. Unfortunately that point of mine to the AP didn’t make it into the article (and my quote was snipped by you anyway ;) – my comment that it was a “small help” was a touch sarcastic.

    FYI, compare the cost of petitioning (over $100K) to the combined filing fees for *all* partisan offices on the ballot in 2008 which includes all statewide offices and US Senate ($75K) – and now they want us to pay both??

    The silver lining is that it’s fodder for our lawsuit and gives me a whole new list of dumbass legislators to depose.

  2. The majors have effectively excluded the LP in NC. So make some lemonades: have a 100 or so NCLPers invade the next
    GOP and Dem primaries, espouse solid Libertarian solutions
    (like ending Drug War), and see what happens. The big boys will have to spend some primary money, distance their party from LP views, etc. Meanwhile, the stealth candidates can be networking, picking up friends and supporters, etc. for the time when the majors will get tired of it and allow reasonable third party access.

  3. R.E.Lee: “[…]for the time when the majors will get tired of it and allow reasonable third party access.”

    How’s the Fifth of Never sound? Two O’clock? Yeah, that’d be great. We’ll do lunch.

    More seriously; the best bet is to do exactly what Bill Pierce is doing. BE QUALIFIED FOR THE JOB and MAKE A REAL RUN AT IT — thereby creating public outcry for said individuals to have access to the ballot.

    It’s that first caveat that really makes & breaks the deal for us; we try to run candidates *as* qualified as the RD’s. (White Wolf — M:tA? Anyone? God I’m such a geek.)We need to run candidates that are actually competent.

    Wouldn’t it be something if we somehow revivified the ancient chinese tradition of making what amounts to a bar-style exam for political candidates and removed all other qualifying mechanisms?

    Of course, sometimes I think that you should have to pass a test that shows you know the basic gist of what you’re voting on before allowed to do so.
    (cont’d)

  4. (cont’d) When I start thinking that way I remind myself of the inevitable abuses involved in tests for voting access.

    Of course, if it were automated & multiple choice… hehe…

    I don’t know. I really like the idea; it grows on me. The idea of causing disenfranchisement via disinformation to be restricted from having electoral impact… and thus *END* such disenfranchisement.

    I already know why it can’t be done. But in an idyllic world… it would be *useful.*

  5. how many signatures did Mr. Pierce need? If NCLP faces insurmountable petitioning obstacles, then they need a difference strategy than Ohio LP.

  6. I’m not necessarily DISAGREEING with IanC’s points… but at the same time I don’t understand Libertarian resistance to running candidates in Republican or Democratic primaries, in locales where ballot access laws exclude third-party candidates in general elections.

    I’m glad that the Republican Liberty Caucus and the Democratic Freedom Caucus are out there, but their positions limit them. By staying “under the big tent”, they can only try to nudge their party gently in the right direction through endorsements. Because they then “come back into the fold” in November no matter who the nominees are, their ability to make an impact is pretty restricted.

    (cont.)

  7. (…cont)

    Ballot access requirements to get on a major party primary ballot are pretty minimal. For goodness sake, just run in a major party primary and say, “Yes, I’m a Libertarian running as a (insert-party-here)”. Spoil an election here, force a runoff there, and the parties may see the advantage of facing you in November instead… where you might help split their opponents rather than their own ranks.

    Using LP funds in a major party primary would probably not be appropriate, but I wouldn’t shun or attach any shame to a Libertarian using this strategy in an area with draconian ballot access requirements. Is Ron Paul a libertarian “traitor”? What am I missing here? Why don’t more state parties do this?

  8. Steve Perkins: I have no disagreement to or resistance against L(l)’s running as R’s or D’s.

    I made the endorsement for Barry Hess to accept the Republican nomination for Governor of Arizona, which he penultimately chose to let go.

    However, when it comes to terms of ballot access… running under the party id of another party will never encourage ballot access.

    The idea *I* was thrusting at in general was to attempt to create public outcry to cause ballot access laws to be altered, by fieldings wholly appropriate, *BETTER* candidates who then face these challenges. *THAT* would work far better.

    Granted, OH is far, far easier than NC. But one has to ask; how did it get that way?

    None of this really *disagrees* or *agrees* with you, Steve P. I’m just fielding thoughts here.

  9. R. E. Lee: Bill needed 5,000 but turned in over 11,000 to make sure he qualified. The problem in Ohio is that he’s listed as “other” because ballot access laws still haven’t caught up far enough to list his party affiliation.

    Regardless, we make sure everyone knows he’s a Libertarian on the issues and people are very receptive to his campaign wherever I go.

  10. Oh I wasn’t directing any heat your way directly, Ian… just kind of venting thoughts out loud also. I’ve suggested the strategy of fielding candidates in major party primaries before, and people look at me with wide eyes like I’m insane. I think at least half of the reaction comes from the thought, “Uh, but what if we accidentally WIN?!?”… there’s always been a fear-of-success undercurrent to the party.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I do believe that a Libertarian running under a major party could attract more media attention. I think it’s for that reason that this WOULD further ballot access… because the major parties would prefer us NOT having the increased attention (not to mention spoiling some of their races and pushing their party in a direction they didn’t want to take it). Of course we must run better candidates than the major parties (and I think we mostly do)… but it does no good if they aren’t getting visibility.

  11. Thanks for supporting the idea, Mr. Perkins. I’ve had one GOP politician tell me, “Thanks for isolating the Libertarians in their own party. They would be embarrassing in ours.” And he said, “Hmmm”, when I suggested it might be wise of him to make ballot access laws even easier.

  12. Steve P — the only reason I think that major party candidacies should be reserved for serious contenders rather than ballot access drives (as an intent, that is) is simply that the former gives people the idea, “Why not just run as one of these?” … and no outcry.

  13. The First Amendment guarantees not only freedom of speech and religion, but freedom of association. Voters have a First Amendment right to sort themselves out into whichever parties they wish. Ballot access is protected by the U.S. Constitution, and laws which keep us off the ballot violate the U.S. Constitution.

    That’s why we, or other minor parties, are in court over ballot access right now in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Washington and West Virginia.

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