NC ends discrimination in party financing fund

The state Libertarian Party has scored a minor victory in its struggle to reform North Carolina’s restrictive election laws. The party is now legally entitled to participate in the state’s political parties financing fund as equals with the Democratic and Republican parties.

The program allows taxpayers to decide that $3 of their state income tax go to a political party. Until now that choice has been limited to two parties.

The Libertarian Party was listed on the 2008 income tax form due to a clerical error even though it did not qualify. State law at the time restricted eligibility to political parties with registration of at least one percent of registered voters.

Despite this error, state board of elections officials determined that the Libertarians were entitled to the funds, since they were designated for the party by taxpayers. The party has received about $38,000 from the fund.

Gary Bartlett, state elections director, recommended the change in the law to the legislature. It was included in a bill making various technical changes to the tax laws.

While Libertarians believe the state should do away with away with all political party funding, state party chair Barbara Howe said that as long as the program exists all political parties should be included.

She said this fund is not at all like public financing of elections. “This is a taxpayer checking a box saying please send part of my tax money to the political party of my choice,” she said.

“I wish they provided a check off for taxpayers to direct all their money,” she adds. “It would be interesting to see what would get funded then.”