Cooper Vetoes Bill Smashing Ballot Access Barrier

By Brian Irving 

Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed SB 656 Electoral Freedom Act, the most significant ballot access reform bill in NC’s modern history. Once again, an establishment party has placed politics over principle. Democrats have always claimed to champion “voter rights.” Yet the governor vetoed a bill that would have given all voters the right to vote for more people for all officers because of one minor and temporary provision affecting 2018 judicial primaries. 

In his veto message, the governor claims this is the “first step toward a constitutional amendment that would rig the system so that the legislature would pick everybody’s judges in every district instead of letting the people vote for the judges they want.” 

This reasoning is curious because no such constitutional amendment bill exists. And even it did, a majority of North Carolina voters would have to approve it. So how would that be rigging the system? That is how a constitutional republic works.

The primary purpose of the bill is to expand voting rights. It will: 

  • Lower the signatures a political party needs to get on the ballot from 2 percent of the vote for governor (more than 94,000 signatures) to 0.25 percent (between 11,000 and 12,000 signatures). 

  • Allow a political party to gain ballot access status if it had a presidential candidate on the ballot in 35 states in the previous election. The Green Party, and probably the Constitution Party, should be able to qualify under this rule. 

  • Lower the signatures an unaffiliated statewide candidate needs from 2 percent to 1.5 percent (about 71,545). The same reduction also applies to candidates for districts other than the General Assembly. The statewide reduction is not significant, and will probably generate a legal challenge. Federal courts have ruled that states cannot have a higher barrier for independent candidates than for political parties.

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Hogarth Elected LPNC Chair

The Libertarian Party of North Carolina elected a new state chair and executive committee Sunday at its annual state convention held at the Lake Lure Inn, Lake Lure.

Susan Hogarth of Raleigh is the new state chair. The other executive committee members are: Nathan Phillips of Asheville, vice chair; Brent DeRidder of Hampstead, secretary; Clement Erhardt of Greensboro, treasurer, and at-large members; Angela Anderson of Winston-Salem, Matt Clements of Carrboro, Chris Dooley of Charlotte, James Hines of Asheville, Amy Lamont of Oxford, Ryan Teeter of Hampstead, Andreas Steude of Cary, J.J. Summerell of Greensboro, and Alec Willson of Asheville.

“I’m honored to have been chosen as chair of the Libertarian Party North Carolina,” the long-time libertarian activist said. “I couldn't be more excited at the prospect of working with all the intelligent and hardworking folks just elected to the executive committee,” she said.

Hogarth said her first goals as chair will be reaching out to the rapidly increasing number of registered Libertarians, affiliate development, and candidate recruitment and mentoring.

The convention also made some major changes to the bylaws, including redefining the criteria for party membership and expanding the role of the executive committee.

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State of the Party

by Brian Irving
Outgoing Chair

The state of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina is – poised. We’re poised on a precipice partway up what has been until now a very steep mountain. It’s been a hard climb so far, and people have been throwing rocks down. But we made it. The climb is getting easier. We can see the top.

We’ve been poised on this precipice for a while though, since 2008 when we made North Carolina history by becoming the first new party to retain ballot status through the ballot. We repeated that feat in 2012 and 2016. Back then I said the LPNC was on the cusp of becoming a permanent political party in North Carolina. We may now be over that cusp … but we’ve discovered that cusp is a precipice.

We’re all justly proud of the progress made by our party, and the historic votes we achieved in 2016, both nationally and in our state. But we’re still on that precipice.

When you’re on a precipice, you have two choices. Go back down (or fall off) or go up. I don’t think we’re going to take the plunge back down because we can see many people below climbing to join us. But we really haven’t put our hearts and minds into the climb ahead of us.

OK, enough of the climbing analogy. Libertarians love to speak truth to power. And we do. Now let me speak the reality to that truth.

What do we need to do as a political party to start the climb again? I’ve been saying we need to do what the establishment parties do. That comment is usually met with disdain or derision because, after all, we’re libertarians. But being libertarians doesn’t make us immune from political reality. We need to do the things the old parties do, but not in the same way.

We need to do three things:

1. Get organized.
2. Start running
3. Raise money.

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