Bill Significantly Lowers Ballot Access Barrier

Call Your State Representative and Ask Them To Support SB 656

by Brian Irving
LPNC chair

A bill to significantly lower the signature requirement for parties to qualify for the ballot may soon be heard in the House Elections and Ethics Law Committee. SB 656 Voter Freedom Act of 2017 passed the state Senate unanimously in April. It would lower the signature requirement for a new political party to qualify for the ballot to a flat 10,000 signatures.

The bill would also lower the signatures for an unaffiliated statewide candidate to a flat 5,000 signatures.

This is a major step forward for free, fair, and open elections in North Carolina. We need to do all we can to get this bill passed.

Currently, a new party needs to collect more than 90,000 signatures to get on the ballot. Anyone running statewide as an unaffiliated candidate would have to gather the same number.

Summary

While the bill doesn’t change the ballot retention requirement (two percent of the vote for governor or president), it does reduce the number of signatures a party needs to collect to get on the ballot in the first place.

The bill also lowers signature requirement for unaffiliated candidates running for district offices (General Assembly, Congress, etc.) and local offices from four to three percent of the qualified voters in the district. Signatures need only be gathered in three, rather than four, Congressional districts.

Finally, the bill changes how the winner of a multiple-candidate primary race is determined by lowering the “substantial plurality” from 40 to 30 percent of the total vote

Call to Action

We urge you to call the members of the House elections committee (listed below). Simply urge them to support SB 656 and give it a hearing in the committee. This is the first step in the process. If the bill is heard in committee, there’s a good chance it will pass. And when that happens we’ll be asking you to make another call, to your state representative, to urge them to vote yes on SB 656.

You can use some of these points:

Why North Carolina Needs Ballot Access Reform

  • No state has a higher signature requirement for new political parties to obtain access to the ballot.
  • No state has a higher signature requirement for Congressional candidates.
  • North Carolina required 10,000 or fewer signatures for more than 50 years (until 1983) with no administrative problems related to ballot access.
  • No state that requires as few as 5,000 signatures for access to the ballot has ever had more than eight candidates on the ballot for a state-wide office, including North Carolina
  • 36 of the 50 states require:
    • 5,000 or fewer signatures for Congress (15,000 less than North Carolina)
    • 10,000 or fewer signatures for statewide office (84,000 less than North Carolina)
    • 20,000 or fewer signatures for a new political party (74,000 less than North Carolina) 
  • All States require fewer signatures than North Carolina for a new political party and Congressional candidates.

The legislature is wrapping up its session and may adjourn in early June, So things may happen fast. The bill could be voted on in committee one day and on the House floor the next, with little prior notice. Please make your calls today. This is the best chance we’ve had in many years for meaningful ballot access reform in North Carolina.

House Elections Committee

Name Telephone Email
Rep. Bert Jones- chair (919)733-5779 Bert.Jones@ncleg.net
Rep. David R. Lewis - chair (919)715-3015 David.Lewis@ncleg.net
Rep. Henry M. Michaux, Jr. -vice chair (919)715-2528 Mickey.Michaux@ncleg.net
Rep. John Szoka - vice chair (919)733-9892 John.Szoka@ncleg.net
Rep. Harry Warren (919)733-5784 Harry.Warren@ncleg.net
Rep. Jay Adams (919)733-5988 Jay.Adams@ncleg.net
Rep. John M. Blust (919)733-5781 John.Blust@ncleg.net
Rep. Beverly G. Boswell (919)733-5906 Beverly.Boswell@ncleg.net
Rep. Justin P. Burr (919)733-5908 Justin.Burr@ncleg.net
Rep. Debra Conrad (919)733-5787 Debra.Conrad@ncleg.net
Rep. Ted Davis, Jr. (919)733-5786 Ted.Davis@ncleg.net
Rep. Jimmy Dixon (919)715-3021 Jimmy.Dixon@ncleg.net
Rep. John Faircloth (919)733-5877 John.Faircloth@ncleg.net
Rep. Susan C. Fisher (919)715-2013 Susan.Fisher@ncleg.net
Rep. Elmer Floyd (919)733-5959 Elmer.Floyd@ncleg.net
Rep. Carl Ford (919)733-5881 Carl.Ford@ncleg.net
Rep. George Graham (919)733-5995 George.Graham@ncleg.net
Rep. Destin Hall (919)733-5931 Destin.Hall@ncleg.net
Rep. Jon Hardister (919)733-5191 Jon.Hardister@ncleg.net
Rep. Pricey Harrison (919)733-5771 Pricey.Harrison@ncleg.net
Rep. Howard J. Hunter, III (919)733-5780 Howard.Hunter@ncleg.net
Rep. Frank Iler (919)301-1450 Frank.Iler@ncleg.net
Rep. Darren G. Jackson (919)733-5974 Darren.Jackson@ncleg.net
Rep. Grier Martin (919)733-5773 Grier.Martin@ncleg.net
Rep. Susan Martin (919)715-3023 Susan.Martin@ncleg.net
Rep. Bobbie Richardson (919)715-3032 Bobbie.Richardson@ncleg.net
Rep. Dennis Riddell (919)733-5905 Dennis.Riddell@ncleg.net
Rep. Michael Speciale (919)733-5853 Michael.Speciale@ncleg.net
Rep. Sam Watford (919)715-2526 Sam.Watford@ncleg.net
Rep. Shelly Willingham (919)715-3024 Shelly.Willingham@ncleg.net

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