For ‘Fair District’ NC Needs an Independent Redistricting Commission

The establishment parties have proven they’re not only unable but unwilling to draw district lines fairly. We need to take that power away from them, not give them another chance to abuse it.

Brian Irving, former LPNC chair

LPNC Press Release

RALEIGH (Sept. 4) – The Libertarian Party of North Carolina applauds yesterday’s ruling by a state Superior Court panel that orders changes to the state’s legislative district map. But the party also warns that sending the job back to state lawmakers is the wrong solution, and calls for the appointment of an independent commission to do the job instead.

Brian Irving, the LPNC liaison to the Fair Districts NC Coalition, issued the following statement on behalf of the party:

“The establishment parties have proven they’re not only unable but unwilling to draw district lines fairly. We need to take that power away from them, not give them another chance to abuse it.

“The proper solution is to create a fully independent redistricting commission along the lines outlined in Senate Bill 673.

“Nearly 15 years ago, the Libertarian Party of North Carolina argued that our state’s restrictive ballot access laws also violated the equal protection, free elections, and freedom of speech and assembly clauses of the state constitution. At the time, the state Supreme Court disagreed. We are grateful that this panel has ruled otherwise.

“However, placing the execution of this new ruling in the hands of the legislature is asking the foxes to redesign the henhouse―again. The point of ‘fair districts’ is to give voters fair representation, not to give two entrenched parties a fair chance to divvy up the vote. More than one-third of the state’s voters have chosen not to affiliate with either establishment party.”

To learn more about the LPNC’s position on redistricting reform, or to contact an LPNC representative for further comment, please email press@lpnc.org. Or call Brian Irving directly at (919) 538-4548.

HB 69 Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission

At first glance, HB69 Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission seemed like a good bill, although far from perfect. After reading through it, now it appears further from perfect than I realized.

The N.C. League of Women Voters published a white paper last year, “Emerging Alternatives for Reasonable Redistricting Reform,” in which they outlined five basic principles for a redistricting commission. They are:

1. Include the legislature in the process, such as naming some of the commissioners.

2. Include citizens and/or impartial experts as commission members.

3. Set strict rules for the commission’s work that: applies traditional redistricting standards (compact, contiguous, keep local government units and communities of interest whole), does not allow the use of partisan data or partisan objectives, and uses voting rules that require bipartisan support for the maps.

4. Provide for extensive citizen participation and transparency.

5. Make the maps final on the commission’s vote.

I endorsed these principles when running for NC Senate 16. They appealed to me because they recognized political reality. To get anything done, a reform plan must include a role for the legislative leaders. Unfortunately, HB69 gives them too much of a role.

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True Measure of Libertarian Strength is Vote Totals

Most Libertarians look to voter registration numbers as a measure of the party’s strength in North Carolina. That may be a good measure of how well the party is doing, but it’s more of a measure of how poorly the old establishment parties are doing.

Libertarian registration has steadily increased since the Libertarian Party of North Carolina gained more-or-less permanent ballot status in 2008. Meanwhile, the number of unaffiliated (independent) voter registration has surpassed the number of registered Republicans as voter registration for both of the old parties steadily declines. Independents may soon become the largest voting block in North Carolina.

However, a better indication of how well Libertarians are doing are voting totals – how many North Carolinians actually vote for a Libertarian candidate. After all, the primary purpose of a political party is to get people to vote for that party’s candidates.

Many more people vote libertarian than register Libertarian.

During the years when the LPNC needed to get three percent of the vote in order to retain ballot access, their focus was on that race. The LPNC broke that barrier in 2008, the first time in NC history that any “third party” achieve this. And they did it again in 2008 and 2016.

What is even more interesting is that in every gubernatorial election since 2004, the Libertarian candidate for lieutenant governor outpolled the candidate for governor. In two elections during that period, another statewide Libertarian candidate also out polled the party’s candidate for governor.

Michael Monaco ran for state Court of Appeals in 2018 and now holds the record for the highest number of Libertarian votes cast for a statewide office (167,748). He was also the first Libertarian candidate for any judicial seat. That achievement is doubly noteworthy because judicial races generally draw fewer votes than other statewide races. They are listed on the back of the ballot, and many people don’t even bother to flip their ballots over.

The 2018 election was a unique, “blue-moon election,” meaning there were no contests for president, governor or U.S. Senate to attract voters. The only statewide races were judicial races. Pundits predicted low voter turnout. But that was not the case. Voter turnout was the highest for an off-year election since 1990 (53%).

The 2016 election is still the high water mark for Libertarian votes in North Carolina. U.S. Senate candidate Sean Haugh got the highest number of Libertarian votes for a federal office (165,171 votes). That surpassed the votes for Lon Cecil got for governor (101,050), Jacki Cole earned for lieutenant governor (130,253), and Gary Johnson received for president (127,746).

The most important outcome of the 2016 election for the LPNC, however, was that for the first time in party history both the gubernatorial and presidential candidates exceeded the number of votes the party needed to retain ballot statues. And all three candidates received the highest vote totals any Libertarian has ever earned for these offices.

The number of people who vote Libertarian is more important than the number of people who register Libertarian. That holds even if you consider 10 percent of unaffiliated voters as “Libertarian.” Either way the numbers are low – but a substantially larger number of people vote Libertarian than register Libertarian.

So when asked, “How many Libertarians are there in North Carolina,” a Libertarian shouldn’t answer, “35,000 (Libertarian registration as of January 26), but “in 2018 more than 167,000 people voted Libertarian, and more and more people vote Libertarian every election.”

USAA Donates to U.S. Coast Guard Families

USAA is helping federal employees affected by the government “shutdown.” What are the federal employee unions doing? They are suing. Maybe I missed something in civics class, but wasn’t one of the reasons unions were formed in the first place to help union members when they were out of work?

Federal unions sue the Trump administration to get paid for shutdown work

The Hill: Federal employee unions sue over shutdown

Of course, USAA is a private, voluntary organization and federal unions are not voluntary.

When I was in the U.S. Air Force, went through one government “shutdown,” but there was never any talk of walking out by fellow airman. We took the words “public service” seriously. I know people who work for the government who will be hurt by this “shutdown.” I sympathize with them. Getting back pay after the fact is little consolation. Their bills are due now.

But let’s not get distracted by the real problem. First, this entire shutdown is a “manufactured crisis” created by a narcissistic president and irresponsible Congress. The U.S. Congress abrogated its responsibility on just about all it duties — including not passing an actual budget in more than 20 years. Democrats were in favor of border barriers before they were against them. The $5 or $6 million in question is a drop in the bucket compared to other wasteful federal government projects including our perpetual wars.

Irving for NC Senate 16 – People. not Politics

I am standing for NC Senate District 16 because I believe in the people of North Carolina. I believe in their spirit, their integrity, and their compassion.

Our state is a place where individuals succeed through voluntary social cooperation solving our most critical challenges through free-market innovation with dignity, respect, and understanding. That’s why I chose to retire here.

We can be proud of the many ways neighbors help neighbors, families encourage families, and how our people are strengthened when coming together in mutual respect and understanding. We welcome diversity and change, respecting the dignity of all individuals.

Government far too often stifles innovation through regulation, subverts compassion through bureaucracy, and suppresses achievement through economic manipulation. That’s because the establishment parties manipulate government to maintain their power and benefit their special interests – not to serve all the people of North Carolina.

State, county, and local governments should never be allowed to stand as obstacles to the people, obstacles to who we are, who we can be, and what we can achieve.

Libertarians believe that if someone is peaceful, they should be welcome to immigrate to the United States

From LP.org

Libertarians believe that people should be able to travel freely as long as they are peaceful. We welcome immigrants who come seeking a better life. The vast majority of immigrants are very peaceful and highly productive.

Indeed, the United States is a country of immigrants, of all backgrounds and walks of life…some families have just been here for more generations than others. Newcomers bring great vitality to our society.

A truly free market requires the free movement of people, not just products and ideas.

Whether they are from India or Mexico, whether they have advanced degrees or very little education, immigrants have one great thing in common: they bravely left their familiar surroundings in search of a better life. Many are fleeing extreme poverty and violence and are searching for a free and safe place to try to build their lives. We respect and admire their courage and are proud that they see the United States as a place of freedom, stability, and prosperity.

Of course, if someone has a record of violence, credible plans for violence, or acts violently, then Libertarians support blocking their entry, deporting, and/or prosecuting and imprisoning them, depending on the offense.

Libertarians do not support classifying undocumented immigrants as criminals. Our current immigration system is an embarrassment. People who would like to follow the legal procedures are unable to because these procedures are so complex and expensive and lengthy. If Americans want immigrants to enter through legal channels, we need to make those channels fair, reasonable, and accessible.

NC Legislature Overrides Veto of Most Significant Ballot Access Bill in Decades

The NC General Assembly has overridden Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of the most significant ballot access bill passed by that body in decades.It will become law Jan. 1, 2018.

North Carolina’s Libertarian, Green, and Constitution parties issued this statement hailing the vote::

“SB 656 Electoral Freedom Act is the most significant ballot access bill passed by the legislature in decades. It dramatically lowers the barriers for new political parties and independent candidates to get on the ballot, thus giving all North Carolinians more freedom of choice on election day,” the statement said.

“The bill will allow new parties to attain ballot access by collecting signatures from registered voters equal in number to 0.25% of the total number of voters who voted in the most recent general election for Governor. This aligns NC election laws with the majority of states.

“A party will also be able to get on the ballot if it had a presidential candidate on the ballot in 35 states in the previous election.

“Our state’s election laws have long imposed excessive and unreasonable requirements on new political parties and unaffiliated candidates far and above the standard in most states. A viable and vibrant democratic process requires that ballot access laws encourage and promote – not limit – the individual’s right to self-government by securing their right to free choice at the ballot box. It’s about time North Carolina reduced those burdens.

“At its heart, this is a voting rights bill. It is unfortunate that the media has ignored the most significant parts of this bill. The judicial primary provision is only a minor part of the bill and it only affects one election in one year. The bulk of this bill will give voters more choices in more elections for many more years.

“This is the most dramatic improvement in ballot access anywhere in the nation in 20 years, when Florida reduced its petition barrier for offices, other than president, for both minor parties and independents from three percent of the number of registered voters to zero, according to ballot access expert Richard Winger.

“This bill could also influence policy across the nation. Republican-majority legislatures in Tennessee and Indiana, and perhaps Alabama, may pass similar bills.

“Our three parties have been working together on this issue for decades, despite our differences on other issues. We’ve also had the support of individual Democrats and Republicans, as well as public policy groups from across the political spectrum, most notably Free the Vote North Carolina.

“We are also grateful to former Sen. Andrew Brock who introduced this bill, and thank all those Republicans and Democrats who supported the bill.”

Susan Hogarth
Chair, Libertarian Party of North Carolina

Jan Martell and Tony Ndege
Co-chairs, North Carolina Green Party

Al Pisano
Chair, Constitution Party of North Carolina

Cooper Vetos Bill Smashing Ballot Access Barrier

Gov. Roy Cooper has vetoed SB 656, the most significant ballot access reform bill in NC’s modern history. Once again, an establishment party has place politics over principle. Democrats have always claimed to champion “voter rights.” Yet the governor vetoed a bill that would have given all voters the right to vote for more people for all officers because of the claim that canceling judicial primaries in one year is “taking away the right of the people to vote for the judge of their choice.”

In his veto message, the governor claims this is the “first step toward a constitutional amendment that would rig the system so that the legislature would pick everybody’s judges in every district instead of letting the people vote for the judges they want.”

This reasoning is curious because no such constitutional amendment bill exists. And even it did, a majority of North Carolina voters would have to approve it.  So how would that be rigging the system? That is how a constitutional republic works.

Sadly, SB 656 has become entangled in the partisan “I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I” bickering. The original version of the bill passed the state Senate unanimously in April. A slightly revised version passed the House in June in a bipartisan vote. In fact, only seven Republican opposed it.

The bill went to a conference committee to reconcile differences between the versions. Unfortunately, when it got to the Senate floor this week, Republicans attached an unrelated provision to cancel the 2018 judicial primaries to the bill. This drew Democratic opposition, and no Democrats voted for the final version of the bill when it passed both houses.

UPDATE: The General Assembly may vote on an override of this veto Tuesday.

It is not clear when the legislature will consider an override vote. It may not come until the short session in January. Meanwhile, all advocates can do is call, email or possibly visit their legislators and the leadership of both parties, and ask them to put principle over politics. Here are some talking points to use when contacting your legislator. If you legislator asks for additional information, please contact me.

Look up your state legislator.

House Leadership

Senate Leadership

Meanwhile, NC’s “major” media have misrepresented, or missed, the impact of this bill, instead focusing on the partisan squabbling over a judicial primary.  Only the Carolina Journal reported on the primary purpose of the bill.

Earlier post.

NC’s Ballot Access Barrier Smashed

The NC General Assembly just passed the most significant ballot access reform bill in modern state history, dramatically lowering the ballot access barrier for political parties and independent candidates.
SB 656 Electoral Freedom Act of 2017 reduces the number of signatures a “new” political party must collect to get on the ballot to a number equal to 0.25 percent of the vote for governor in the last election. The previous barrier was two percent. Currently, that is about 11,000 signatures, rather than 89,366.
A party can also get state recognition if it had a presidential candidate on the ballot in 35 states in the previous election. It also lowers the signature barrier for an independent (unaffiliated) running for statewide office, or district office other than the General Assembly, from 2 to 1.5 percent.
Under these new rules, it’s almost certain the Green Party, and possibly the Constitution Party, can qualify for the NC ballot in time for the 2020 presidential election.
Unfortunately, a provision regarding judicial primaries that some people in one of the establishment parties don’t like may jeopardize the bill. There are indications the governor may veto it. If that happens, we are not certain the legislature can — or will — override.
As former chair of the LPNC, I’ve been working with a broad coalition spanning the political spectrum led by Free the Vote NC. The coalition included Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, and Constitutionalists, as well as public policy groups ranging from Democracy NC to the John Locke Foundation.
Political parties, public policy groups and individuals with such divergent views uniting in such a common cause clearly attest to the fact that ballot access reform is not a partisan or special-interest group issue, but a question of fundamental freedom that transcends political differences.

Republican state Sen. Andrew Broke introduced the original version of the bill in April, and it passed Senate unanimously. A slightly different version of the bill passed the state House 107-7 in June with only Republicans opposing it.

The bill went to a conference committee to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions. When it got to the Senate floor this week, Republicans attached an unrelated provision to cancel the 2018 judicial primaries to the bill. This drew Democratic opposition, and no Democrats voted for the final version of the bill when it passed both houses.

The Republicans are also attempting to redraw judicial district lines in a separate bill.