New voters continue to shun major parties

The number of voters registering in a major party continues to decline in North Carolina, even as the total number of registered voters in continues to rise. As of Nov. 2, there were 6,475,017 registered voters: 2,764,123 registered Democrats, 1,990,192 registered Republicans, 22,173 registered Libertarians, and 1,698,529 registered unaffiliated.

The decline in the percentage of voters registered as Republicans or Democrats reached a new record low of 42.69 percent. The number of unaffiliated voters is now at 26.23 percent and the Libertarian portion is at 0.34 percent.

The number of registered Libertarians, 22,173, while still proportionally small, is an historic high for the party.

The Democratic share of registered votes is now at a new record low of 42.69 percent, and the Republican portion is down to a low of 30.74 percent.

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Libertarian elected, but can’t serve

One Libertarian was elected to a municipal office Nov. 5, but unfortunately he won’t be able to serve. According to unofficial results, Matt Hoerner was elected to the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners in Cumberland County. But he’s serving as a federal government civilian employee in Korea. He said if his election was certified, he would resign.

He emailed the county board of elections in October withdrawing from the race. Hoerner wasn’t taken off the ballot, however, because the BOE needed a signed written statement. He received 551 votes (10.81 percent).

Andrea Boyer ran a classic door-to-door, grassroots campaign for Woodfin town alderman. This was her first run for office. She received 179 votes (15.9 percent) in an unsuccessful bid for one of four seats on the board.

But she told her supporters, “I am not going away – see you around town! Many thanks and lots of love to everyone who voted for me, supported the campaign, and sounded your voice! Your voice needs to be heard at town hall in the weeks and months ahead!”

In Charlotte, Eric Cable received 7,459 votes (2.12 percent) for city council at-large and fellow Libertarian Travis Wheat got 443 votes (4.55 percent) in the district three race.

“Historically speaking these were great results for Charlotte,” Cable said “I was expecting one to two percent and got 4.55 percent, and Eric (Cable) broke two percent in an at-large race, I believe getting more raw votes and percentage than we did in the last two at large races.”

Cable also noted that more than 63 percent of voters choose a straight Democratic Party ticket. That will not be possible in future elections.

Jason Varner is another candidate who said he’d be back. He got 619 votes (6.19 percent) for Thomasville City Council in Davidson County. He placed eight in a 12 candidate field vying for seven seats.

“I would like to thank everyone who has supported me during this election process,” he told his supporters on Facebook. “While I regret to inform you that I fell a little over 300 votes short, my race is not over. 2015 will be here before you know it. I will never quit.”

An outsiders view of Moral Mondays

The rounds of charges and counter-charges swirling around the Moral Monday demonstrations illustrate just how low political discourse in our state has fallen. It’s like children exchanging insults on a playground: “I know you are, but what am I.”

This farce is the inevitable result of a political system designed as a duopoly, with Democrats and Republicans taking turns being in charge, yet offering few differences between themselves.

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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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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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George McGovern is dead

George McGovern, the Democratic Party’s last anti-war candidate, died today. Sadly, McGovern’s obits will focus on his disastrous 1972 bid for the White House, when he only got 17 electoral votes, and not his anti-war activism. Libertarian author David Boaz wrote this tribute.

Nick Gillespie eulogies George McGovern, Libertarian Hero on Bloomberg.com

U.S. appeals court upholds NC ballot access restrictions

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.

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‘Gerrymandering’ film airs May 25

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 laurenz@nccve.org or call 919-783-8811. For more information and to see a preview of the film, go here.

U.S. justice argues citizens can’t defend voting rights in court

U.S. Department of Justice attorneys argued in a Washington DC Federal courtroom Monday that neither voters nor candidates had the legal standing to challenge the constitutionality of federal law.

The case involved citizens from Kinston who were challenging the DOJ’s overturning a municipal referendum in which voters overwhelming approved changing the city’s elections from partisan to nonpartisan.

The DOJ claimed that making ballot access more difficult doesn’t injure a candidate and therefore doesn’t given them grounds to sue. Writing in National Review Online Hans von Spakovsky called this argument “strained and hypocritical.”

“This position completely contradicts the position the department has taken on numerous prior occasions when it has argued that ballot-qualification requirements violated Section 5 (of the Voting Rights Act of 1965),” he wrote.

Spakovsky wrote that it was “embarrassing” and “astonishing” to see NAACP lawyer Anita Earls argue citizens don’t have standing to see the U.S. Attorney General or contest the constitutionality of federal law. “It was astonishing to watch the NAACP, which shared the government’s argument time as interveners in the lawsuit, argue for restricted access to the courts by aggrieved voters — like their members.”

For background on the lawsuit, go to Free the Vote NC.

Read the complete National Review Online article here.

No party really has a majority

It’s almost certain that newly elected Republicans will go roaring into the U.S. House and the N.C. General Assembly beating their chests and claiming they have a majority and a mandate to run things. In reality, however, no major party earned a majority of the votes in the 2010 election, according to an analysis by the nationally-recognized ballot access expert Richard Winger writing in Ballot Access News.

Based on the vote counts for the highest office up for election, governor, U.S. Senator or U.S. House, the Republicans polled only 46.1 percent of the vote and the Democrats 45.6 percent. Libertarians polled at 1.2 percent, with the Constitution party at 1.1 percent, the Green Party at .6 percent.

North Carolina is an example of this no-major party majority. In straight party voting, Democrats got 51.1 percent, Republicans 48.1 percent and Libertarians .8 percent. Yet in the top-of-the-ticket race for U.S. Senate, Republican incumbent Richard Burr pulled in 55 percent of the vote, Democrat Elaine Marshall got 43 percent and two percent went to Libertarian Mike Beitler.

Even though Burr won a decisive victory in the U.S. Senate race, the results in the state’s U.S. House races favored Democrats. Even though Republican candidates drew a higher percent of votes, 53.5 to 44.5, only one Republican challenger won, and that race is subject to a recount.

Less than half of voters, 43 percent, voted a straight party ticket. That percentage is coincidentally the same as the percentage of registered voters who actually voted. On the other hand, 98.6 percent of voters made a choice for U.S. Senator. The state constitutional amendment banning felons from being county sheriffs drew 91 percent of the voters.

Participation in judicial races was lower. The contest for a seat on the state Supreme Court drew 74.6 percent of voters. Interestingly the appeals court race that had 13 candidates drew 72 percent of voters. Apparently, most voters were not confused at all by the cluttered ballot. Voter confusion and a cluttered ballot are arguments state elections officials used to justify and defend North Carolina’s highly restrictive ballot access laws in the lawsuit challenging the laws brought by the Libertarian and Green parties.

The state Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case in September and is expected to issue a ruling early next year. Whatever the court decides may impact any gerrymandering scheme the Republicans try to enact while redistricting the state’s Congressional and legislative districts.

Go to LPNC vs. The State for background on the lawsuit.