Free Voter Freedom Act from Senate rules committee

From Free the Vote North Carolina

The legislative session is coming to a close, but HB 794  Voter Freedom Act is stuck in the Senate Rules Committee.  This bill was sponsored by the Free the Vote Coalition, an alliance of groups spanning the political spectrum that includes the Libertarian Party of North Carolina.

The original bill would have dramatically lowered our state’s high ballot access barriers. We agreed with the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jason Saine, when he urged us to support transforming the bill into a study bill in order to get it passed. And it did pass the House with an overwhelming 109-5 vote.

That was a month ago. Since then, both houses have been busy working on various budget and tax reform bills. The bill has been left dormant in the Senate Rules Committee.

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Libertarian state convention focuses on growth, activism

Liberty in action was the theme and focus of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina annual state convention held in Flat Rock over the weekend.

J.J. Summerell, who was reelected state chair, noted that the 50 percent increase in party membership in 2012 can be attributed to the growing dissatisfaction of voters with the Republican and Democratic parties. “A healthy part of that growth can also be attributed to youth groups such as Students for Liberty, which are spreading like wildfire on college campuses,” he added.

That activism was evident at the convention. During the Saturday session, there were a series of seminars and discussion groups on various topics, including fund raising, candidate recruitment and training, team building, and communicating libertarian ideas.

Carla Howell, Libertarian Party executive director, conducted a training session on the LP’s new training initiative “Who’s Driving.”

The game is designed to teach Libertarian candidates, activists and spokespersons in the most fundamental skill needed to be effective communicators: controlling the agenda.

During his state of the party address, Summerell talked about the developing 2020 political plan. “The goal is simple: to win one seat in the state Senate and four seats in the state House by 2020, making statewide races viable for the LPNC in 2020 and beyond,” he said.

In the business portion of the convention, in addition to re-electing Summerell, John Caveny was re-elected treasurer. New officers elected were Alex Vuchnich of Charlotte, vice chair and Barbara Howe of Oxford, recording secretary.

The convention also elected eight at-large members of the executive committee. They are: Jon Byers, Arden; Britton Correll, Waxhaw; Ginny Godfrey, Morganton; Kevin Innes, Morganton; Brian Irving, Cary; Jason Melehani, Durham; Bjørn Pedersen, Chapel Hill, and; Erik Raudsep, Durham.

The convention made some changes to the bylaws, including replacing “Robert’s Rules of Order” with “Democratic Rules of Order” as the party’s parliamentary authority.

Media coverage

Hendersonville News Times – NC Libertarians converge in Flat Rock

Libertarians ‘head to the hills’ for state convention

The N.C. Libertarian Party is asking its members to “head for the hills,” and attend the 2013 state convention in Flat Rock June 7 to 9.

“Today, we find ourselves at an important stage in our development,” said J.J. Summerell, state chair. “The stage where we’ve developed enough critical mass that we can discuss with others the lack of logic in the ‘wasting your vote’ argument.”

The convention will be held at the Mountain Lodge and Conference Center. Noted Libertarian orator and author Michael Cloud will be the keynote speaker. Summerell said Tarheel Libertarians will be among the first to hear Cloud’s latest riveting presentation, “The Impossibility Trap.”

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Libertarian Party state convention June 7-9 in Flat Rock

The Libertarian Party of North Carolina will hold its annual state convention June 7 to 9 at the Mountain Lodge and Conference Center in Flat Rock.

The official business of the convention will be to amend the bylaws and elect new officers. However, convention organizers announced that most of the convention will be spent on learning the special skills that are essential to any social or political movement.

“Millions are waking up to finding their freedoms and liberties being encroached upon and smothered by the monstrous growth of government,” said Kevin Innes, convention chairman.

“Many no longer feel that their government is theirs but has instead become an insatiable monster that looks for every opportunity to grow bigger and more powerful.”

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Vote Freedom Act of 2013 filed in N.C. House

Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincolnton) introduced House Bill 794 Voter Freedom Act of 2013 today to dramatically lower the ballot access barrier for new political parties and unaffiliated candidates.

House Bill 794 has bipartisan sponsors, Representatives Paul Luebke (D-Durham), David Lewis (R-Dunn), and Rodney Moore (D-Mecklenberg). A broad and diverse coalition of political parties and public policy groups from across the political spectrum also backs the bill.

The Voter Freedom Act of 2013 would reduce the number of signatures a new political party must collect to qualify for the ballot from nearly 90,000 to about 11,000. The bill would also make it easier for new parties to retain ballot access, by reducing the number of votes they must get to about 11,000 votes.

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More election laws introduced

Several more election laws bills have been introduced in the General Assembly, including two that would eliminate straight-party voting.

HB185, called the Ballot Reform Act, would end straight-party voting. But it would also reinforce the preferential treatment given the Democratic and Republican parties when listing candidates on the ballot.

The bill would provide for the party that won the governorship to be listed first on the ballot, followed by other parties with more than five percent of registered voters, in an alphabetic order starting with the first letter of the governor’s last name.

All other political parties would then be listed in alphabetical order by party. Independent candidates would be still be listed last, using the alphabetical order formula based on the governor’s last name.

HB185 sponsors are Representatives Bert Jones, Susan Martin, Debra Conrad and Bob Steinburg, all Republicans.

In contrast, Senators E.S. Newton and Thom Goolsby have filed SB82, which simply eliminates straight-party voting.

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Free the Vote NC calls for an end to straight-party voting

Eliminating straight-party voting will be a step toward ending the two-party duopoly that controls North Carolina’s electoral process and discriminates against alternative parties and independent candidates, a spokesman for Free the Vote North Carolina said in a statement today.

“The straight-party voting system tends to perpetuate this cycle of individuals going to the polls and casting votes based simply on party label in the hopes of voting for someone that shares their common values,” said Jordon Greene, founder and president of Free the Vote NC.

Two bills ending straight-party voting have been introduced in the General Assembly. Free the Votes opposes one, HB185 and supports the other, SB82.

“Straight-party voting encourages uneducated voting and demeans the value of the individual’s vote,” Greene said. “The manner in which the device is used in North Carolina also is confusing to voters, since it doesn’t apply to the presidential race.”

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N.C. Libertarians set another record

The North Carolina Libertarian Party has achieved another historic milestone in state politics. It now has the highest share of registered voters than any other third party in modern history, according to an analysis by Richard Winger of Ballot Access News.

Although the actual number, 0.31 percent, is very low, the Libertarians have steadily increased their portion of voter registrants despite having to overcome North Carolina’s draconian ballot access laws every four years.

“Although our numbers are still small, the fact that more and more people are registering either as unaffiliated voters or Libertarians makes these numbers significant,” said state party chair J.J. Summerell. “It’s evidence that more and more people think the Republican and Democrats have failed to effectively manage our government.”

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Check Libertarian on your state income tax form

 LPNC_PPFF

The N.C. Political Party Financing Fund programs allows taxpayers to check a block on the state income tax form and designate $3 of their state income tax to a political party. Although the Libertarians oppose giving taxpayer money to political parties, they’re asking people to designate $3 of their state income tax burden to support the state Libertarian Party.

“The PPFF should be abolished immediately,” said J.J. Sumerell, Libertarian Party state chair. “However, the North Carolina Libertarian Party will continue to accept the funds and encourage members of all parties and unaffiliated voters to check the Libertarian block on your NC tax return.”

He noted that while the designation doesn’t reduce the income tax burden, it does allow people to direct their money to a cause they support.

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Election law bills filed in the General Assembly

In the first two days of the N.C. General Assembly, four election law bills were introduced. A controversial voter ID bill was not among, even though House Speaker Thom Tillis listed it as part of the Republican Party’s agenda. The GOP is expected to use its veto-proof majority in both house to push the bill rapidly through the legislature.

Free the Vote NC, a ballot access reform group, is expected to have a bill ready in the next few weeks which would dramatically lower the barriers for third parties and independent candidates to get on the ballot. It will be similar to a bill which passed the House last session, but failed in the Senate.

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