By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH — Want to run for N.C. House? Try to become a Senator? If you aren’t a registered Democrat or Republican, getting your name on a ballot in the Tar Heel state may be more difficult than you ever imagined — a fact that Free the Vote North Carolina hopes to change this year.
The non-partisan organization that includes Constitutionalists, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, Whigs, Republicans, Independents and others, held a press conference in Raleigh Tuesday to promote the Electoral Freedom Act of 2011, a bill expected to be filed in the House by Rep. Stephen LaRoque (R-Lenoir) that would loosen ballot access laws.
“Acclaimed political scientist Giovanni Sartori … once said that ‘voting without free choice cannot result in representative government’ and we here today believe that Sartori was right,” Jordon M. Greene, the group’s founder and president, told those at the press conference. He said North Carolina has the second most restrictive ballot access laws in the nation, including virtually unparalleled signature requirements.
“For instance, for a new political party to obtain access to the election ballot in North Carolina, that party must collect in excess of 85,000 signatures from registered voters, based on a legal requirement of 2 percent of the vote in the last gubernatorial election,” he said.
The Electoral Freedom Act would eliminate percentage-based parameters and require that a new political party present 10,000 signatures to get on the ballot. An unaffiliated candidate would need 5,000 signatures to enter a statewide office, and the requirements for running for everything from U.S. Congress to local City Council would also be lowered.
Promoting the act is a newly formed Free the Vote Coalition, which includes public policy groups such as N.C. Common Cause, Democracy NC, the John Locke Foundation and the N.C. Center for Voter Education, as well as some half dozen political parties that have joined Free the Vote North Carolina’s efforts.
“The Free the Vote Coalition will work to network groups and individuals from across the state, representing all shades and colors of the political spectrum, in support of the Electoral Freedom Act of 2011,” Greene said. He announced that the following lawmakers are expected to join Rep. LaRoque on the bill: Glen Bradley (R-Franklin), Paul Luebke (D-Durham), Jean Farmer-Butterfield (D-Wilson) and Bert Jones (Rockingham), the Legislature’s only unaffiliated member.
To find out more about Free the Vote North Carolina, log on to www.freethevotenc.com.