North Carolina will continue its tradition of unopposed elections in 2016. Seventy-two General Assembly candidates were either “elected” at the close of filing Dec. 21 or will be elected in the March primary. So in November nearly half of North Carolina voters will no choice about who represents them in Raleigh.
While it’s true gerrymandering is a cause, there’s another more significant reason – highly restrictive ballot access laws. It’s very difficult for a party – other than the Democrats or Republicans – to get on the ballot. It’s nearly impossible for independent candidates to do so.
These high barriers to ballot access thus effectively disenfranchise nearly a third of North Carolina voters, the unaffiliated, the fastest growing voter block.
Most voters don’t realize how the establishment parties manipulate the system through gerrymandering and restrictive ballot access. To qualify for the ballot a “new” party must collect in excess of 90,000 signatures. To run for statewide office without a party label you must hurdle the same barrier. Anyone who wants to challenge an unopposed incumbent in a legislative district or local office, needs to collect anywhere from 2,000 to 20,000 signatures from registered voters.
It’s not gerrymandering, voter IDs, or early voting limitations that disenfranchises NC voters. It’s our ballot access lockout.
The most important factor in the 2016 presidential election won’t be the candidates but the fact that the American electorate is now divided into two warring partisan camps. Moreover, this blind party allegiance won’t be based on support for “their” candidate, but on fear of the “other “ party – and its members.
That is the conclusion of an essay “The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is the Other Party,” by Alan I. Abramowitz and Steven Webster of Emory University.
“In the seven decades since the end of World War II, Democrats and Republicans have never been as divided as they are today,” they wrote. “Intense dislike of the opposing party and its candidates by supporters of both parties means that party loyalty and straight-ticket voting are much more prevalent than in the past.”
Abramowitz and Webster discount the 10 percent of Americans who identify as independents, concluding that their vote will almost evenly divide between the Democratic and Republican candidates.
Their essay notes that the rise of “negative partisanship” has drastically altered the nature of electoral competition in the United States. This is part of “a vicious cycle of mutually reinforcing elite and mass behavior” and negative views of the other party “encourage political elites to adopt a confrontational approach to governing.”
This essay reinforces some of the points made by political analyst John Davis in his “Strike While the Ire is Hot” presentation to the 2015 Libertarian Party of North Carolina Convention.
Progressives, and the News & Observer, are up in arms again over another alleged attempt at voter suppression. This time they claim the Republicans have deliberately prevented people from registering to vote. The basis for the charge is that the number of people registering to vote while applying for public benefits or a driver’s license has decreased.
Under the federal National Voting Registration Act of 1993, state agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Motor Vehicles, in addition to boards of elections, must give anyone who uses their services the opportunity to register to vote.
Groups including Democracy North Carolina, Action NC and the A. Philip Randolph Institute claim applications at these agencies have dropped more than 50 percent in the last two years.
While admitting that the reason for the drop was unclear, a May 17 News & Observer editorial concluded, “The likely explanation is that when the McCrory administration took over, new leaders at DHHS, the Department of Motor Vehicles and the State Board of Elections simply overlooked the requirement.”
Oddly, the editorial notes this has happened before – ten years ago when Democrats controlled state government. So it appears such manipulation of the electoral process may be a bipartisan practice – like gerrymandering and restrictive ballot access barriers.
The second primary in the history of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina will be held Tuesday. The Libertarian U.S. Senate primary is open to all registered Libertarians and unaffiliated voters. Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.
If you are registered Libertarian, when you go to vote the poll workers should give you the Libertarian ballot. If the don’t, ask for it. Don’t take no for an answer. If you have to, speak to the senior poll worker, the chief judge.
If you are registered unaffiliated, the poll worker should ask you which primary ballot you want. Ask for the Libertarian ballot. Again, if they don’t tell you – ask – and insist.
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.
Eliminating straight-party voting will be a step toward ending the two-party duopoly that controls North Carolina’s electoral process and discriminates against alternative parties and independent candidates, a spokesman for Free the Vote North Carolina said in a statement today.
“The straight-party voting system tends to perpetuate this cycle of individuals going to the polls and casting votes based simply on party label in the hopes of voting for someone that shares their common values,” said Jordon Greene, founder and president of Free the Vote NC.
Two bills ending straight-party voting have been introduced in the General Assembly. Free the Votes opposes one, HB185 and supports the other, SB82.
“Straight-party voting encourages uneducated voting and demeans the value of the individual’s vote,” Greene said. “The manner in which the device is used in North Carolina also is confusing to voters, since it doesn’t apply to the presidential race.”
Tomorrow is the deadline to register to vote for the November election. Go here to get more information or check your voter registration. Please don’t miss this opportunity. Your vote is the most precious thing you can give to anyone seeking office.
At this point, I strongly urge you to go directly to your county Board of Elections and fill out the registration form in person before close of business tomorrow.
Vote like your life depended on it. It does.
It never ceases to amaze me that people will not tolerate shoddy workmanship, poor performance or overcharging when it comes to plumbers, electricians and auto mechanics. They won’t even stand for a player on their favorite sports teams who doesn’t given one hundred percent.
But they’ll willingly vote for a political party or candidate who has proven, time and time again, that they won’t keep their promises. They’ll willingly cast their vote for the “lesser of two” evils.
This reminds me of a story:
“If we move in mass, be it ever so circuitously, we shall attain our object; but if we break into squads, everyone pursuing the path he thinks most direct, we become an easy conquest to those who can now barely hold us in check.” – Thomas Jefferson
BURNET, Texas (Aug. 3) – It never ceases to amaze me how many citizens can vote for a candidate who doesn’t represent their views merely because he’s not as bad as the other guy, and then complain about the results. This phenomenon reminds me of a joke that circulated after the 1964 presidential election. That campaign was particularly vicious and decisive, especially the debate over the increasing American involvement in a far-off country called Vietnam and the fight against the “Communist Menace.” While President Lyndon Johnson pledged, “We are not going to send American boys nine or 10 thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves,” Sen. Barry Goldwater countered by saying he’d make “a damned swamp out of North Vietnam” if they didn’t quit their aggression.
“Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it. Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real.“
– Gen. Douglas MacArthur
BURNET, Texas (July 23) – Fear is a very powerful emotion. Fear can paralyze you into inaction, or stampede you into doing things you would not ordinarily do. In certain situations fear can be beneficial; it can heighten your senses when you’re facing danger, stimulating the adrenalin necessary to survive or the sense to avoid the situation altogether. But more often than not fear simply overwhelms principle, reason, logic and common sense and drives you into a state of paralysis or panic that may ultimately destroy you.