Constitutionalist tries independent run for state House

Following in the footsteps of his father, Jordon M. Greene is running for elective office as an unaffiliated candidate. Greene recently announced his candidacy for state House District 87, covering Caldwell County.

Jordon M. Greene

“I’m running for N.C. House because you deserve a representative in Raleigh that values the liberty of each citizen equally and respects the diversity of views and opinions held by his constituents while holding firm to his own values,” Greene said in his campaign announcement. “I’m a concerned citizen who simply cannot stand by when liberty is at stake.”

Greene was campaign manager for his father Bryan’s unsuccessful attempt to run for Congress as an unaffiliated candidate in 2008. The elder Greene failed to collect the 16,457 signatures needed under North Carolina’s highly restrictive ballot access laws.

The young Greene said he’s running as an unaffiliated candidate because the party he’s chosen to join, the Constitution Party, is not allowed on the ballot. “North Carolina’s ballot access laws unduly regulate and, in the end, violate my freedom of association by keeping my party off the ballot with overly restrictive signatures requirements unparalleled in most states,” he said.

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Forced annexation ends

Forced annexation is now history in North Carolina. Gov. Beverly Perdue allowed H.B. 845, the Annexation Reform Act to become law without her signature. The key provision of this bill allows property owners in an affected area to stop a forced annexation if 60 percent of the property owners sign a protest petition. The bill would also require municipalities to provide free water and sewer hookups for property owners in the proposed annexation area.

“This represents a huge change to a very bad law that was a blemish on the State of North Carolina,” said Cathy Heath, director of StopNCAnnexation. “This is a change of historic significance.”

StopNCAnnexation was formed eight years ago by a Wake County group fighting a forced annexation with a mission to use the internet to organize citizens across North Carolina into a cohesive effort, to assist each other and convince the legislature to end forced annexation.

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Ballot access reform bill still alive

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.”

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House panel votes to lower ballot access barriers

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.

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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.

State Senate approves annexation moratorium

It is now up to the state House whether or not North Carolina will impose a moratorium on municpal annexations. The state Senate approved the moratorium March 7 in a 36-12. Forced annexation opponents see this as a very important step toward ending the abuse once and for all.

“The new legislative majority has been moving quickly and decisively on the issue of forced annexation on some important fronts,” said Catherine Heath, director of the StopNCAnnexation Coalition. Both the state House and Senate are considering annexation moratorium bills and there are several bills to repeal or suspend forced annexations.

Senate Bill 27, Involuntary Annexation Moratorium, is sponsored by Senators Andrew Brock (R-Davie) and Phil Berger (R-Guilford), the Senate President Pro Tem. “Senator Brock has done an outstanding job of explaining and defending this bill in committees and on the floor,’ said Heath. A similar bill introduced in the House by Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake), HB9, hasn’t moved past the first reading on the floor where it was referred to the House judiciary committee.

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House committee discusses election reform bill

A subcommittee of the state House elections committee considered House Bill 32, The Electoral Freedom Act of 2011 March 2. The bill would dramatically reduce the ballot access restrictions for new political parties and unaffiliated candidates by reducing the number of signatures they must gather to qualify for the ballot. HB32 would set the signature requirements at 10,000 for a new party or for an unaffiliated candidate running for statewide office, including governor, council of state or U.S. Senator.

It would also set fixed numbers for other offices, including U.S. House, state House and Senate and local offices.

The consensus among subcommittee members was to change from fixed numbers to percentages. The members who supported this idea cited the state’s growing population and the need to pass a law that they would not have to come back to change in a few years. They discussed using one-quarter of one percent of the vote for governor for new parties and statewide unaffiliated candidates, and one-half of one percent for district and local races.

Some representatives voiced their concern over the bills elimination of the write-in candidate signature requirement as well. It is likely that the section regarding write-ins will either be stricken from the bill or revised to call for some number of signatures less than those called for unaffiliated candidates in the bill.

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FairVote joins the Free the Vote Coalition

FairVote Action has joined the Free the Vote Coalition, a group formed to work for passage of a bill to dramatically reduce the ballot access restrictions for new political parties and unaffiliated candidates.

FairVote is a catalyst for reforming our elections to respect every vote and every voice through bold approaches to increase voter turnout, meaningful ballot choices and fair representation.

“That brings the coalition membership to eight public policy organizations, six political parties and one news source, a total of fifteen separate and politically diverse organizations,” said Jordon Green, Free the Vote North Carolina president, organizer of the coalition. Free the Vote NC is a non-partisan political action committee dedicated to protecting freedom of speech, association and the right to vote of every North Carolinian through education, research and legislative advocacy.

House Bill 32, the Electoral Freedom Act of 2011, 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.

A subcommittee of the N.C. House elections committee will hold an informational meeting, March 2 to discuss the bill. The purpose of the meeting is for committee members to ask questions and raise concerns. According to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Stephen LaRoque, they likely will work on a “committee substitute.”

Sen. Andrew Brock (R-34) will file a companion bill to HB32 in the state Senate this week. That bill is also expected to have bi-partisan support, including Sen. Eleanor Kinnaird (D-23).

The Free the Vote Coalition now includes the Conservative, Constitution, Green, Libertarian, Modern Whig, and Reform parties, Ballot Access News, the N.C. Center for Voter Education, N.C. Common Cause, Democracy NC, Fair Vote, the Free and Equal Foundation, and the John Locke Foundation.

Lowering ballot barriers for ‘third parties,’ unaffiliated candidates

by Brian Irving

A bill to dramatically reduce the ballot access restrictions for new political parties and unaffiliated candidates was introduced in the state General Assembly Feb. 3.  House Bill 32, The Electoral FreFree the Vote Coalitionedom Act of 2011, would set at 10,000 the number of signatures a new party must collect to be listed on the ballot. It would establish the same number for unaffiliated candidate to run for a statewide office, including governor, council of state or U.S. Senator.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Stephen LaRoque (R-10) and co-sponsored by Reps. Glen Bradley (R49), Paul Luebke (D-11) and Jean Farmer-Butterfield (D-24). Bert Jones, the only unaffiliated member of the House, is a co-sponsor, along with Larry Hall (D-29), Pricey Harrison (D-57),  Harry Warren (R-77), Jonathan Jordon (R-93), Rodney Moore (D-99), and Jennifer Weiss (D-35).

Several alternative political parties and electoral reform groups have formed the Free the Vote Coalition in support of the bill. The coalition is a project of Free the Vote North Carolina, a non-partisan political action committee dedicated to protecting freedom of speech, association and the right to vote of every North Carolinian through education, research and legislative advocacy.

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