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.

Here is a summary of the election law bills introduced to date:

H11 Special Election Dates

This bill will require municipalities (towns, cities and counties) to have special elections only on the same date as the general election or the primary election in an even numbered year. But it grants an exception for issues relating to “public health or safety, including a bond referendum for financing of health and sanitation systems.“

H38 Repeal Second Primaries

This bill eliminates the second, or run-off primary, which current law requires if none of the candidates in the first primary gets 40 percent of the vote. In other words, the person who gets the most votes in the primary wins. Free the Votes proposed Voter Freedom Act of 2013 would allow parties to opt out of the primary system altogether.

S12 Appoint Superintendent of Public Instruction

This is a state constitutional amendment to make the office of state Superintendent of Public instruction appointed by the governor, and remove that position from the Council of State. It would result in one less statewide office appearing on the ballot. That may help solve the “cluttered ballot” problem alleged by ballot access reform opponents.

S39 Restore Partisan Judicial Elections

This bill restores partisan judicial elections, which was the way judges were elected until 2002. In effect, this bill ends the charade and spectacle of nonpartisan judicial elections in which both Democrats and Republicans endorse a list of judicial candidates.