More Voices, More Choices Rally

Written Statements of Speakers - Friday, June 14, 2024

Watch the video here

Travis Groo, Moderator - Chair, Libertarian Party of Wake County  

It’s an honor to moderate the More Voices, More Choices rally downtown Raleigh. We all know that the two-party system is not resonating with more than half of all voters in North Carolina. We have more than a binary system and it’s time for the people of North Carolina to see more choices on their ballot.

For far too long, the Republicans and Democrats have had a stronghold on our election process, but the voice of the people is rising up. They want to be heard and they will be heard.

Thank you to all the organizers who put the rally together, and the multiple parties involved. As a libertarian, I believe we can work together in a peaceful manner to achieve our goals, without the initiation of force, fraud and coercion.

 

Wayne Turner - Candidate for Governor, Green Party

In 1998, the linguist and political commentator Noam Chomsky observed, "The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum."

He saw the spectrum of acceptable opinion limited by a self-censoring commercial media and a two-party system more responsive to wealth than the public good. It is to the advantage of the major parties to limit competition in the political arena, because it brings them money and power. Consequently, we have an antiquated electoral system resistant to change, built on a constitution written to limit political control as much as possible to the privileged in service of wealth.

The public, including those present today, do not go before our elected officials as free individuals participating in a democratic society. Instead, we go before them as supplicants, hat in hand, asking for an audience for our views and ideas. If our ideas happen to align closely enough with theirs, we may find some acceptance. If not, our ideas die with their preferences and biases, and are not subject to public debate. Two primary factors have led to this broken system, which disintegrates further daily.

The first contributor is the single-seat, single-district nature of our offices, combined with plurality voting, which routinely devolves into a system of two parties competing for votes in a divided electorate, leading to polarization and ugly, money-fueled negative campaigns. Winners use legislated gerrymandering and oppressive law to cement power and control. Losers have no expectation of consideration in any regard.

Second is the fact that the major parties determine eligibility for competition. An obvious conflict of interest, this creates an inconsistent collection of state laws across the US, a further barrier to entry into the national political system.

We need a comprehensive re-imagination of electoral politics in the US. But there are changes that, if widely adopted, would reduce many of the harmful effects in the current system.

  1. Stop letting the two major parties decide who is or isn’t worthy to share space with them.

  2. Stop the new charade of non-partisan primaries. It presents an illusion of choice while preserving the influence of the major parties.

  3. Move to proportional representation and eliminate single-seat districts. This means legislative bodies must be larger than they are today, and rightly so given our increased population without a proportionate increase in representatives.

  4. Institute ranked choice voting in cases where a single seat is contested.

To the state of North Carolina, I say that the time has come to end the two-party system. It buries the future of the state in ideologically driven public policy that favors profit over people, and it has left us contemplating the total loss of democracy as each party seeks to dominate the other at all costs.

Stop this charade, open the political system to all, and see that your ideas are far from the only possibilities for a brighter future. Your exclusivity is not a viable path forward.

 

Brad Hessel - Candidate for NC Senate District 18, Libertarian Party

Being a libertarian is really easy. There are just two rules:

  • Don’t hurt folks

  • Don’t steal their stuff

Is there anyone here who doesn’t agree with those two rules?

Nope? Great! Congratulations: you’re all Libertarian!

Another thing we likely all agree on is our frustration with the two-party duopoly that produces office holders who seem interested mainly in posting schoolyard insults on X/Twitter to stoke their base and gerrymandering to accentuate and preserve their electoral advantage. Responsibly addressing public policy concerns is way down the list.

Accordingly, electoral reform is a top priority for me. I want to draw your attention to one particular proposal that is gaining me a lot of traction: implementing instant runoff voting—also known as ranked-choice voting—as an option for municipal and county elections.

We use plurality voting in North Carolina which works fine in two-candidate races, the kind that the duopoly prefers... But if you have three or more candidates, it’s possible for a candidate to be elected with less than a majority, which is fundamentally undemocratic. And occasionally, the system mandates a runoff, which not only doubles the cost of that election, but turnout is notoriously terrible… you can have the winner getting fewer votes in the runoff than the loser got in the original election. Not exactly a mandate!

Instant runoff voting (or "IRV") addresses both these problems. You rank the candidates in order of preference, and if no candidate gets a majority, the last-place candidate is eliminated and the votes for her or him are redistributed to each voter’s second choice. If there’s still no winner, the process is repeated until someone gets a majority. Never a need for a runoff, and never a winner with less than a majority.

And bonus: no wasted votes! If your favorite candidate is eliminated before the election is decided, you still get a say in the outcome, presuming you picked a second choice.

But the best thing of all is that IRV incentivizes candidates to build consensus rather than being divisive because candidates who work to attract second- and third-choice votes have an advantage over candidates who only speak to their base and antagonize other voters.

You may ask, if IRV is so great, why am I only advocating it for county and municipal elections?

Pure political practicality. IRV can’t be used anywhere without North Carolina General Assembly approval. And the powers that be at the NCGA are not about to consider IRV for themselves or statewide races; they are too happy with the status quo to risk rocking the boat. But it’s no skin off their nose if a locality uses it.

My hope is that once North Carolinians see the advantages of IRV over plurality voting in local elections, demand for implementing it statewide will grow, both outside and inside of the general assembly.

So, as you guys representing other third parties attain ballot access and get to the point of running state and local candidates, please consider putting instant runoff voting at the top of your electoral reform priorities.

 

Matthew Hoh - Former US Senate Candidate (2022), Green Party

Thank you for inviting me here today.

We here today represent political choice, political imagination and political independence.

These state, corporate media and political elites that locked arms to prevent and deny political choice, political imagination and political independence for me and the Green Party are continuing today to protect and advance their own selfish, greedy and petty concerns and interests.

We see this in their grossly obscene and all too obvious undemocratic actions against the Kennedy, Stein and West campaigns both in this state and nationwide. We see it in their unjust and specious obstruction of the Constitution Party here in North Carolina. We see it in the untold numbers of citizens in every election cycle who realize politics is closed to them unless they possess great wealth or a mindless and slavish disposition to serve those with such wealth.

And, we see it in the millions who don't vote, not because they are lazy or apathetic, but because they know ours is a rigged and corrupt political system that doesn't want, let alone reward, their participation.

Yet, as the elites that control power unite to keep that power, we unite to oppose them. We have no choice but to remember who they are and, despite our differences, who we are. To abdicate to them, to leave them the political space to determine our lives and our futures, is cowardly and treacherous to any of us possessed of the hearts, minds and souls of free men and women.

To give up our self-determination through constitutional and natural rights passed on to us by men and women, ranging from Thomas Paine to Angela Davis, is a diminishment and meanness that none of us here will ever accept.

They will not stop fighting us because political independence is an existential threat to them. Their tactics and strategies will broaden and grow more tyrannical and criminal, and that is ultimately what we want them to do: expose themselves for who they are and who they represent. Faced with such an adversary, knowing the increased oppression that is coming, we will remain steadfast. We will pursue democracy, we will keep to the freedoms as articulated in our Constitution, we will advance and advocate for the rights of all, and we will not surrender our political independence, whether to the state, to corporations or to the elites' failed, noxious and grotesque political parties.

Our fight for political independence will only grow harder and may never get easier, but capitulation is not possible. As the earth and the people the elites have debased, harmed and stolen from erode, devolve and loom heavy with apocalyptic risks, we are left with no choice. Our metaphysical need for political independence is coupled with a bodily danger from a collapsing economic, societal, and military order that endangers us all. I cannot overstate the connection between the need for political choice, imagination and freedom and the consequences the established political elites will bring upon us if we allow their political theater to continue.

Continue our fight for political independence. There is no other option.

 

Vinny Smith - Treasurer, Constitution Party - Candidate, Governor

During our petition drive for ballot access, I've had the opportunity to speak with thousands of registered voters. You shared with me that you believe there are better third party candidates running for office than those of the uniparty. We thank the thousands of North Carolinians who signed our petition.>

When you signed our petition, that was your voice saying you believe a third party, the Constitution Party of NC, should have ballot access and take part in the electoral process.

Well I am here to tell you today that the State Board of Elections is trying to silence your voice and they are doing all they can to deny us ballot access. On April 1, the Constitution Party of NC turned in all of the petitions we had on hand to the State Board of Elections for the certification process. At that time, the State Board of Elections Petition Tracking Website showed we had more than 1,100 valid signatures above the required threshold. On April 12, the State Board of Elections notified us that there was an error in their online reporting system and they deducted over 2,000 signatures leaving us roughly 1,300 signatures below the requirement.

We immediately began petitioning again and on April 30 we went over the threshold requirement for the second time. Despite being 630 valid signatures over the threshold, we received an email from the State Board of Elections on June 7 stating that we were only 9 signatures over the threshold. Yesterday, June 13, after 4:00pm, the Constitution Party of NC received an email from the State Board of Elections saying that they are going to conduct an audit on 1,050 of our signatures.

These are the games the State Board of Elections is playing, but we are not going to stand for it.

We demanded that the State Board of Elections put the Constitution Party of NC’s Petition for Ballot Access on their agenda during their meeting Monday, June 17. They did not, and unfortunately, we will have to look at legal action if our petition validation continues to be stalled. The Constitution Party of NC has won two court cases against the State Board of Elections over the past few years and we will win this one also.

The Constitution Party of NC will ensure that the voice of North Carolinians is heard and that you have another third-party option.

 

Myia Hall - Founder and Vice Chair, Forward Party

I joined the Forward Party after my college best friend gave me Andrew Yang's book, Forward: Notes on the Future of Our Democracy. It opened my eyes to the structural issues within our democracy that have often taken a backseat to social issues. I realized that under Democratic and Republican leadership, the shape of our lives has been determined by significant gaps in our government infrastructure.

We watched our parents lose houses in 2008, experienced tyranny in my first voting experience, and faced a pandemic as I entered the workforce after graduation. The world stopped, and I followed the rules—working hard, studying, getting good grades, and securing a job—but the path that allowed previous generations to buy new homes on a modest salary no longer exists for us.

I felt the need to see people like myself in politics—people with new ideas, not part of the old guard, and willing to work for the changes I wanted to see. When my best friend from undergrad asked me to help build a new political party, I was initially at a loss. My education in biology hadn't prepared me for political activism. I understood the central dogma of biology (DNA makes RNA, RNA makes protein) and could trace the pathway of blood through the heart, but I was clueless about engaging with lawyers, judges, legislators, senators, and the chair of my own national party. My only certainty was a growing fear as I watched the country's temperature rise, igniting small fires in the lives of those around me.>

Fortunately, the leaders I approached were receptive and eager to engage. Many shared my fears, though they masked them better, articulating their concerns eloquently in suits rather than cargo pants and a bandana. I soon realized that beneath the party lines lay a network of individuals united in their struggle. It became clear that the nature of our fight had evolved in recent years. The prevailing sentiment was that we needed a fresh approach because the status quo ensured no one truly won. Politics was tearing families apart, leaving people like me feeling stagnant as social issues took precedence. My generation faces the grim prospect of unaffordable housing.

Despite these pressing issues, social discourse often takes precedence, and I say this as a member of several marginalized communities. The struggles that plague the LGBT community, such as homelessness, early death, and human trafficking, are replaced by blog pieces asking whether Santa Claus should be androgynous. These are problems that plague all youths in our society. 

Performance has taken the place of common-sense actions and solutions, and fear of exile from your political party makes you betray your beliefs. Everyone should be able to disagree with their parties without fear of alienation, but this is not possible with our current system. I'm done falling for the trap and am committed to fighting for the change I want to see. I will work with anyone from both sides of the aisle committed to listening to others, whether we agree or not. This is how we move our country forward together.

 

Ryan Rabah - Vice Chair, We the People Party

Thank you all for being here.

First, let me say I love that we are all here together, united in speaking out against the systems that silence third parties in this state. Can you imagine the Duopoly parties standing shoulder to shoulder and having a civil political discourse about anything? I can't.

To paraphrase George Orwell, the final thing the Party will tell you is to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. My friends, that day has arrived. The duopoly wants us to believe there are no alternatives, that we should not believe our eyes and ears.

They use our money on forever wars and tell us it's peace; they feed our children poison and tell us it's food; they suffocate our constitutional rights and tell us that is how democracy breathes. And they continue to feed us lies.

But Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s revolutionary approach to politics is to just tell the truth. We The People built our foundation on that very same maxim. Truth to power: we need environmental stewardship, access to safe food, transparency in politics, protection of free speech, medical freedom, and a break from the corporate-captured duopoly. It wasn't always easy, but We the People did the work.

  • We were there at the community college when it was literally below freezing, and our hands were shaking so much we didn't know if the signatures would count.

  • We were there in Freedom Park when it was so hot that a bead of sweat fell on the petition, so we asked the person to re-sign to make sure it would count.

  • We were there at all the county boards where official after official praised the quality of our signatures.

  • We were there almost three weeks ago, right up the street, when we proudly handed in our thousands of petitions to the North Carolina State Board of Elections.

And now we hear about potential acts of sabotage: groups calling and harassing our petition signers, groups trying to pressure and coerce the board to not certify us. These are the same groups that, in order to "save democracy," are willing to eviscerate democracy.

Because of that, I stand before you calling for the State Board to certify We The People as an official political party in our state. We have followed all the rules, we have followed all the statutes, and we deserve to be certified immediately.

The people of North Carolina have spoken; they started this job. The We The People volunteers went out and got their signatures; we did our job. The 100 county boards across our state verified all those signatures; they did their job. Now, we humbly ask the State Board of Elections to follow suit and finish the job. We need our certification so that we can get to the actual job of working for the great people of this state.

 

Sean Haugh - Vice Chair, Libertarian Party - Candidate, NC Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services

The Libertarian Party has been through this struggle for decades. While we have secured our own ballot access already, it is very important to us to show support for absolutely anyone who wants to participate in electoral politics and run as a candidate to offer themselves up for public service here in North Carolina. Anybody who is here to help us fire the uniparty, you are my friend and my ally and I am happy to support you today.

The Libertarian Party had to petition several times to get on the ballot every four years. One thing we never had to put up with in all of our petitioning struggles was any question about the number of valid signatures that we had submitted.

The statutes in North Carolina are very clear. The county boards of elections examine the signatures that third party and unaffiliated candidates have collected. They verify them, and once the counties have certified that there are enough petition signatures to meet the requirement, that's it. The State Board of Elections has no statutory authority whatsoever to ask questions or investigate beyond that point.

They have no statutory authority to listen to people, like Democrats, who want to complain and keep the ballot just to themselves. So yes, we urge the North Carolina State Board of Elections to do their duty and certify these parties and independent candidates who want to be on the ballot and to reject any of these frivolous complaints against them from people who just want to have their own party on the ballot and no one else.

What is the value of having as many candidates on the ballot as possible? It’s so a voter can walk into the voting booth and vote FOR somebody they want. The more options that are on the ballot, the more likely a voter will show up. And just as important, that voter will be excited about voting for what they believe. They won’t be voting against what they fear the most. 

This is what will revitalize our democracy and this is what we need.


Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
Get Involved Volunteer Donate