Restrictive Ballot Access Laws Disenfranchise Voters

North Carolina will continue its tradition of unopposed elections in 2016. Seventy-two General Assembly candidates were either “elected” at the close of filing Dec. 21 or will be elected in the March primary. So in November nearly half of North Carolina voters will no choice about who represents them in Raleigh.

While it’s true gerrymandering is a cause, there’s another more significant reason – highly restrictive ballot access laws. It’s very difficult for a party – other than the Democrats or Republicans – to get on the ballot. It’s nearly impossible for independent candidates to do so.

These high barriers to ballot access thus effectively disenfranchise nearly a third of North Carolina voters, the unaffiliated, the fastest growing voter block.

Most voters don’t realize how the establishment parties manipulate the system through gerrymandering and restrictive ballot access. To qualify for the ballot a “new” party must collect in excess of 90,000 signatures. To run for statewide office without a party label you must hurdle the same barrier. Anyone who wants to challenge an unopposed incumbent in a legislative district or local office, needs to collect anywhere from 2,000 to 20,000 signatures from registered voters.

It’s not gerrymandering, voter IDs, or early voting limitations that disenfranchises NC voters. It’s our ballot access lockout.

From the Echoes of 1776: A Monetary Revolution Is Coming

by Stefan Gleason

Is America on the cusp of a revolution that will usher in a new monetary order? The lessons of history tell us that no fiat currency retains its value for long or lasts forever. And as Shakespeare noted, “what’s past is prologue.”

Major episodes in monetary history often stem from political revolutions. Just as there are boom-bust economic cycles, there are cycles of optimism pessimism that drive cultural, geopolitical, and war cycles. American history reflects the ebbs and flows in social sentiment.

The Founders wrote gold and silver into the Constitution as legal tender. They did so not because the American Revolution was financed with sound money – quite the opposite. The Founders were keenly aware of the dangers of unbacked paper money because the Continental Congress printed huge volumes of it to pay for the Revolutionary war.

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Libertarians To Host Only Presidential Debate in NC

The Libertarian Party of North Carolina will host the only presidential debate scheduled in North Carolina. It is set for March 7 from 9 to 10:30 p.m. EST and will be webcast on Google Hangouts On Air. The debate will feature candidates for the Libertarian presidential nomination.

Carolina Journal Associate Editor Barry Smith will moderate the debate from a location in Raleigh. Candidate will participate from locations across the nation.

“We’re excited to be hosting a virtual debate with our candidates for president so that the public can see and hear their views on the critical issues neither the Democrats nor Republican candidates and parties will address,” said J.J. Summerell, state party chair.

“We especially encourage the 25 percent of North Carolina voters registered unaffiliated to watch, as well as independents across this nation,” he added. “National polls show that a vast majority of Americans want a choice outside the old parties. The Libertarian Party offers that choice.”

The debate will be held one week prior to North Carolina’s March 15 Presidential Primary. Participants in the debate will be selected by online poll conducted by the LPNC from a list of a candidates who will appear on the March 15 Presidential Primary ballot.

Those candidates are: Marc Feldman of Ohio; John Hale of Kentucky; Cecil Ince of Missouri, Gary Johnson of New Mexico; Steven Kerbel of Colorado; Darryl W. Perry of New Hampshire; Austin Petersen of Missouri, Derrick Reid of California; Jack Robinson of South Carolina; Rhett Smith of Texas, and; Joy Waymire of California.

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Legislative Leaders Subvert Campaign Finance Laws


BREAKING NEWS: So much for Republican grassroots indignation. The “new,” supposedly “grassroots” Republican party chair has caved in to the oligarchs. He agreed to a “compromise” that will now allow an additional “affiliated party committee” to be set up by the senior member of the Council of State (i.e. the governor). Gov. Pat McCrory has siged the bill (or course).

Read more here and here.

“As Chair of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina, I’d like to express sincere appreciation to both Republicans and Democrats in our General Assembly and Council of State for placing particular emphasis on their absolute lack of morals, ethics and professionalism,” commented J.J. Summerell.  “By stooping to new depths you have raised the LPNC, the Party of Principle, to new heights in the eyes of informed voters.”


by J.J. Summerell

In an eleventh hour back-door maneuver, the Republican leadership in the General Assembly rammed through a bill giving them the unlimited and uncontrolled ability to raise as much money as they want for candidates they alone select.

They’ll be able to appoint an “affiliated party committee” that won’t have to abide by the same rules and constrains that apply to parties and candidates. And if that doesn’t make a sufficient mockery of the law, individuals, lobbyists, and special interest groups will be able to give as much money as the want to these faux committee.

We agree with the Republican assistant counsel David Williams that this is a “poison pill” for the Republican Party. But it’s also a toxic potion for Libertarians, unaffiliated voters–and most especially the people of North Carolina.

We also agree with Rep. John Blust, one of 19 Republicans who voted against this bill, who said, “Honorable people do not conduct the publics’ business this way. The attitude reflected by the leaders in carrying this out shows a profound disrespect not only for the other legislators, but for the people we represent.”

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North Carolina Deserves a Better Budget

by J.J. Summerell

About 60 days late and many, many dollars short, Republican legislators have finally agreed on a state budget. There are some commendable provisions but overall the budget is still not the best deal for North Carolina.

J.J. Summerell
J.J. Summerell

They continued moving in the right direction by lowering the personal income tax rate again. They also took a small step toward ending corporate welfare by eliminating renewable energy tax credits. But these positives are offset by adding a sales tax to some services, increasing in driver’s license and vehicle registration fees, and reinstating historic preservation tax credits.

Reducing everyone’s income taxes is good. But expanding the sales tax and increased DMV fees, while seemingly fair, will actually have a greater impact on those with lower incomes. That’s not good for anyone.

Overall, the budget increased 3.1 percent over last year. As the Civitas Institute notes, in the last 20 years, our state budget has more than doubled – a growth rate nearly three times the rate of population growth. Even after adjusting for inflation, general fund spending per person has grow by 50 percent over the past 30 years.

The worst part is the process itself. It has become overly politicized, secretive, and easily manipulated by special interest groups – even with one party in commanding control of state government. Passing the budget should be the primary business of the General Assembly during its ‘long session.’ Yet state legislators, Democrats and Republicans, have made it a habit of not meeting their constitutional mandate to pass the budget by July 1.

Another problem is that policy issues have become entangled it what should be just a spending document. Issues like teacher’s assistants, driver’s education, sales tax distribution, and tax credits are important policy matters. They should properly be debated separately and individually, on their own merits.

In short, the General Assembly should first decide what items the spend money on, and then decide how much money to spend on each item.

North Carolina taxpayers deserve better. They deserve a government that does not stifle innovation through regulation, subvert compassion through bureaucracy, and suppress achievement through economic manipulation—and in so doing, limit our potential to work together voluntarily in achieving shared success and individual fulfillment.

J.J. Summerell is chair of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina. He manages a benefits communications and enrollment firm in Greensboro.

 

Short History of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina Project

I’m editing and updating a “Short History of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina,” using several resources, including Wikipedia (which I know is out of date and incorrect), SBOE records, several Google searches, some LPNC archive files, and a section of the legal brief filed in 2005 in LPNC vs. the State of North Carolina.

While I’m working from an old article, I’ve forgotten where it originated or the author (possible Sean Haugh).

I’m trying to reach out to as broad a network of libertarians as possible, which is why I’m posting it here. I’ve also sent it to a list of every activist, candidate, EC member, or anyone who was every involved with the LPNC I could think of and had email address for.

If you have an information, knowledge or experience with the LPNC history, especially the ’70s, or can correct, update or expand anything in this article, and are willing to share it, please email me directly at vicechair@lpnc.org.

Thanks for your help.

Here’s the draft.

Fortenberry withdraws from NC governor’s race

Ken Fortenberry has dropped out of the race for the Libertarian nomination for governor. The nationally recognized award-winning investigative journalist and former newspaper editor cited financial limits for his decision.

“Despite my hopes to give a ‘early foot’ to my candidacy, the reality is that after more than six months into the race I have come to the conclusion that the financial support necessary for me to run an effective campaign into the general election simply is not going to be there,” he said.

Fortenberry was owner and publisher of news@norman, a weekly newspaper serving the Denver and the West Lake Norman area before it merged with the Denver Weekly.

In 1987, writing for the McCormick (S.C.) Messenger, his coverage of corruption in the sheriff’s office led to federal prison terms for the sheriff, a bribery conviction of the sheriff’s replacement and changes to state law enforcement certification. During the investigation, his home was bombed.

Fortenberry only other foray into politics came in 2012, when he lost the Republican nomination for N.C.’s 10th congressional district to incumbent Patrick McHenry.

“I had wanted to be able to share the Libertarian message far and wide long before next spring, but without digging deeply into my own pockets, that is just not possible.”

He said by withdrawing now he hopes someone more qualified, perhaps younger and stronger financially, will be able to mount a strong campaign.

“I believe strongly in the Libertarian message of maximum freedom and minimum government, but I have decided to enjoy my retirement and leave the heavy lifting to someone else.”

The governor’s race is critical to the Libertarian Party. It must get two percent of the vote in that race in order to retain ballot status. In 2008, the Libertarians were the first party in N.C. history to meet that burden. The repeated the feat in 2012.

If the State is going to kill people, it must be open about it

It’s becoming standard operating procedure for the Republican-controlled legislature to ram bills through with little public notice or debate. Their latest exercise in oligarchical power is House Bill 774, with the factious title Restore Proper Justice Act.

The bill removes safeguards, removes requirements for public rule-making processes, allows for the state to withhold basic information about the execution drugs and protocols, and no longer requires doctors to be present. This will make it more likely executions will be botched, as has happened in other states.

North Carolina is not a democracy. It’s not even a republic. It is becoming an oligarchy, and not a very good one at that.

Rep. Leo Daughtry says the bill is not about the death penalty. He’s right. But it is about government integrity, transparency and openness. It is about the people’s right to know.

Even if you believe in state-sanctioned executions, it is a dangerous activity. Secrecy further increases the risk by hiding from the public information critical to ensuring an execution is carried out properly. Executing a person is one of the most serious actions the state can take. The process should be open and transparent. No government program should operate in secret.

For the record, the Libertarian Party of North Carolina believes state-sanctioned revenge never serves the cause of justice and therefore opposes execution of prisoners.

Independence Day to do list

Here are two things to do on the Fourth of July 2015, in between eating hot dogs and drinking beer, and before you watch the fireworks: 1) Read the Declaration of Independence, and; 2)  Read this excerpt from a speech by President Calvin Coolidge (you read that right) on the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration.

“The American Revolution represented the informed and mature convictions of a great mass of independent, liberty loving, God-fearing people who knew their rights, and possessed the courage to dare to maintain them.

coolidge“It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history …. These were the doctrine that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed.

The idea that the people have a right to choose their own rulers was not new in political history. It was the foundation of every popular attempt to depose an undesirable king. This right was set out with a good deal of detail by the Dutch when as early as July 26, 1581, they declared their independence of Philip of Spain. In their long struggle with the Stuarts the British people asserted the same principles, which finally culminated in the Bill of Rights deposing the last of that house and placing William and Mary on the throne. In each of these cases sovereignty through divine right was displaced by sovereignty through the consent of the people.

“Running through the same documents, though expressed in different terms, is the clear inference of inalienable rights. But we should search these charters in vain for an assertion of the doctrine of equality. This principle had not before appeared as an official political declaration of any nation. It was profoundly revolutionary. It is one of the corner stones of American institutions.

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Legislators fail to pass budget – again

For the seventh time in 10 years, the General Assembly will be derelict in its duty to fulfill a major constitutional responsibility. The new fiscal year will begin without the legislature passing a state budget.

It’s no wonder North Carolinians have such a low opinion of government. Even though both houses and the governorship are controlled by the same party, they cannot complete this most basic government function. Although in session for six months, they’ve waited until the last minute to consider this important issue.

Not only were the competing budgets drafted in secret by a small, closed group of legislators, lobbyists and special interests group agents, these same people are now meeting behind closed doors to cut deals for a final budget. There’s nothing fair, impartial, or reasonable, and certainly not democratic, about this process.

Perhaps if legislators actually read the state constitution they’ve taken an oath to uphold this problem wouldn’t come up every year. Under that charter, the governor is responsible for drafting the budget. The state House and Senate can review it and make changes, and must approve it. But the fundamental responsibility rests with the governor.

There’s no need at all for both houses to separately, and secretly, draft their own budgets – other than to score political points and provide cover for political favors.