The Libertarian Party supports the bill sponsored by a bipartisan group of legislators to dramatically lower the ballot access barrier for new political parties and unaffiliated candidates.
Rep. Phil Shepard (R-15, Onslow) filed House Bill 769 Voter Freedom Act of 2017. It reduces the number of signatures a new political party must collect to qualify for the ballot from about 94,000 to just under 12,000. That’s equivalent to one-quarter of one percent of the vote for governor or president in the last election.
“We're grateful to these representatives for backing this bill. They recognize that the right to vote is not truly complete where free choice does not exist,” said Brian Irving, state Libertarian Party chair.
“Our state’s election laws impose excessive and unreasonable requirements on new political parties and unaffiliated candidates far and above the standard in most states. It’s time for North Carolina to reduce these burdens.”
“When the state arbitrarily excludes candidates from the ballot as it does now, it undermines the whole voting process,” he added.
The bill would also make it easier for new parties to retain ballot access, by reducing the number of votes they must get to just over 11,000 votes. That’s equivalent to one-quarter of one percent of the votes for governor or president in the last election.
Primary sponsors are Representatives Shepard, Gale Adcock (D-41, Wake), Jonathan Jordan (R-93, Ashe-Watauga), and Rodney Moore (D-99, Mecklenberg). Co-sponsors are Representative John Blust (R-62, Guilford) and Pricey Harrison (D-57, Guilford).
The bill was drafted by Free the Vote NC, a ballot access reform group.
The lower signature requirement would also apply to unaffiliated candidates running for statewide office, Congress, the General Assembly, and local office.
A similar bill opening up ballot access passed the House in 2011 with broad bipartisan support. But none of the almost identical bills introduced in legislative sessions since then ever made it out of committee.
1. Reduce the number of signatures a new political party needs to obtain ballot access from 94,221 to 11,778 signatures. This number is determined by the formula “one-quarter of one percent (0.25%) of the total number of voters who voted in the most recent general election for governor or for presidential electors, whichever is less.”
2. Reduce the barrier for a new political party to retain ballot access from 2% of the vote cast for governor or president to 0.25% of the vote cast for governor or president -- whichever is less.
3. Reduce the number of signatures statewide unaffiliated candidates need for ballot access from 94,221 to 11,778 on average (0.25% of the last vote cast for that office).
4. Reduce the number of signatures unaffiliated candidates need to get on the ballot:
a. For Congressional candidates from 19,952 to 488 on average (0.25% of the total votes cast for that seat in the previous election.)
b. For state Senate candidates from 5,188 to 129 on average (0.25% of the total votes cast for that seat in the previous election.)
c. For state House candidates from 2,161 to 52 on average (0.25% of the total votes cast for that seat in the previous election.)
6. Move the deadline to file a petition back to the third Friday in July.