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.”
North Carolina is No. 2 in a national ranking – in gerrymandering. And it has the most gerrymandered U.S. House district in the nation, District 12.
Read this item in Under the Dome, the News & Observer political column:
Azavea, a firm that applies mapping software GIS in online media, updated a previous report that uses four geographical measures of compactness for every Congressional district in the country, and by the group’s estimate, N.C.’s 12th District is literally the worst in the country.
The report also ranks U.S. House District 4 as the sixth worst gerrymandered in the nation. The district, which I think resembles a map of Viet Nam, actually splits U.S. House District 2. At one point District 4 literally runs down the Cape Fear River. I think it’s safe to say very few people live in the river.
Two of the major Republican presidential hopefuls are learning what third party and independent candidates have known for years, that ballot access laws in most states are rigged against offering voters any real choices in primaries and on election day, said Jordon Greene, president of Free the Vote North Carolina.
“If Newt Gingrich thinks it’s difficult to get on the Republican primary ballot in Virginia, he ought to try getting a new party or unaffiliated candidate on the ballot in North Carolina,” Greene said in a statement. “Then he’d understand how the major parties limit voter choice by imposing restrictive ballot access laws.
There will be no action taken on HB 32, The Electoral Freedom Act of 2011 this year. Sen. Peter S. Brunstetter (R-Forsyth) told Free the Vote NC president Jordon Green bluntly, “There is no chance that HB 32 will be heard during the November 7 session.” He said that many legislators won’t even attend. We take Sen. Brunstetter at his word.
The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld North Carolina’s restrictive ballot access rules for unaffiliated Congressional candidates. In October, the court ruled in Bryan Greene v. Gary Bartlett that requiring unaffiliated candidates to collect signatures from four percent of the registered voters in the district was Constitutional. This equals about 20,000 signatures in the typical district.
Greene, who attempted to collect signatures to run for Congressional District 10 in 2008, argued that N.C. law severely burdens independent candidates and violates the rights guaranteed in both the First and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The plaintiffs in the case include Bryan E. Greene, his son Jordon M. Greene, Todd Meister, and intervenor Bradely D. Smith.
An election bill that would dramatically lower the threshold for a new political party to gain and maintain ballot access in North Carolina may still be considered by the state General Assembly when it reconvenes in July. H.B. 32, The Electoral Freedom Act of 2011, passed the House in a bipartisan 68-49 vote, but the Senate adjourned before considering the measure.
The legislature will return in July primarily to deal with redistricting but may consider other matters, including election law bills.
“We’re hopeful that legislators will pass this bill when the return,” said Jordon M. Greene, president of Free the Vote North Carolina. His group is heading a coalition of political parties and public policy groups from across the political spectrum supporting the bill. The measure has backing from the Libertarian, Green and Constitution parties, Democracy NC, the John Locke Foundation and the N.C. League of Women Voters.
“Clearly there’s a broad base of support from across the political spectrum to offer voters more choice on the ballot. We hope the state Senate will consider this and take action,” Greene said. “It is past time that North Carolinians were given as much choice on the ballot as they do in the grocery store.”
In a bipartisan 67-50 vote, the state House of Representatives approved a bill to dramatically lower the threshold for a new political party to gain and maintain ballot access in North Carolina. The bill lowers the number of signatures a new party must obtain to 0.25 percent of registered voters. That party could then retain ballot status by getting 0.25 percent of the votes for president, governor or any council of state office, whichever is lower.
Rep. Stephen LaRoque (R-Lenoir) introduced H.B. 32, the Electoral Freedom Act of 2011, with both Republicans and Democrats as primary sponsors. “There’s a wide-variety of membership in support of this bill who have come together for the idea that it is too difficult under present law for those citizens who want to create a small party to get on the ballot,” said Rep. Paul Luebke (D-Durham), a primary sponsor.
The House vote reflected bipartisan support with 38 Democrats and 29 Republicans voting in favor. The measure also has backing from a broad spectrum of groups from across the political spectrum, including the Libertarian, Green and Constitution parties, Democracy NC, the John Locke Foundation and the N.C. League of Women Voters.
“When political parties and public policy groups with such divergent views unite in a common cause it clearly attests 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 and ideological differences,” said Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield (D-Edgecombe, Wilson), another primary sponsor.
The House elections committee approved a bill today that would dramatically lower the threshold for a new political party to gain and maintain ballot access in North Carolina. The bill lowers the number of signatures a new party must obtain to one-quarter of one percent of the registered voters in the state. That party could then retain ballot status by getting one-quarter of one percent of the voters for president, governor or any council of state office, whichever is lower.
North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform will sponsor a free screening of the critically acclaimed documentary “Gerrymandering” and an inside look at the significant flaws in our current redistricting process. The screening will be Wednesday, May 25, at 7 p.m. at the Galaxy Cinema, 770 Cary Towne Blvd, Cary.
This entertaining and engaging film looks at the abuse of power that too often occurs when you have politicians drawing their own district lines and choosing their own voters. Following the movie, a panel of experts will lead a discussion on redistricting and its implications here in North Carolina, as well as take questions from the audience.
If you have any questions, please email Brent Laurenz at email@example.com or call 919-783-8811. For more information and to see a preview of the film, go here.
The vice chairman of the N.C. Republican Party has endorsed passage of House Bill 32, the Electoral Freedom Act of 2011.
In a statement, Tim Johnson said, “House Bill 32, The Electoral Freedom Act of 2011, is a great opportunity to level the playing field and to give all citizens the equal opportunity to fully participate in the governing of our Republic.”
“As a Republican, I believe this party represents the best choice for Americans, but as a Republican I also believe allowing more political parties and individuals to participate in the electoral process will result in the best ideas and best people winning, and ensure that we’re not stuck with the status quo,” he said.
The bill will dramatically reduce the ballot access restrictions for new political parties and unaffiliated candidates. It would set at 10,000 the number of signatures a new party must collect to be listed on the ballot, or for an unaffiliated candidate to run for a statewide office, including governor, council of state or U.S. Senator.
“We welcome Mr. Johnson’s endorsement and thank him for his support of the individual’s right to self-government,” said Jordon M. Greene, president of Free the Vote North Carolina, the group that originated the bill. “This endorsement is further proof that the issue of free choice and ballot access reform goes beyond partisanship and is truly a matter of basic freedom and equality of opportunity.”