Thursday, September 22, 2005

State Board Of Elections!..You've Been Served!!!

Libertarian Party of North Carolina
1821 Hillandale Rd. #1B-253 Durham NC 27705

For more information:
Thomas Hill, chair - 704.455.9200
Sean Haugh - 919.286.0152

Libertarians say: NC election laws unconstitutional

DURHAM (Sept. 21) - North Carolina's election laws deny citizens their
rights to free association, free elections, equal protection of the law and
the ability to vote for candidates of their choice. They should be declared
unconstitutional, the Libertarian Party of North Carolina asserted today in
a lawsuit filed in Wake County Superior Court.

The party also requested an injunction to retain Libertarian candidates on
the ballots in Charlotte and Winston-Salem and to prevent the county boards
of elections from changing the registration of Libertarians to unaffiliated.

The legal action was prompted by an Aug. 22 decision of the state Board of
Elections to decertify the Libertarian Party.

The complaint said that when taken as a whole, the statutory regulation of
political parties denies Libertarians as well as unaffiliated voters the
right to association and expression of their political philosophy. The
statutes "impede the ability of political parties other than Democrats and
Republicans to place candidates on the ballot and otherwise enjoy the
benefits of state recognition."

"What we have now is one set of laws giving special rights to Democrats and
Republicans and a different set of laws for third parties and unaffiliated
voters," said Sean Haugh, the party's executive director, named as a
plaintiff in the suit. "That cannot stand under the NC Constitution."

Several Libertarian candidates are listed as plaintiffs. They are Pamela
Guignard and Rusty Sheridan, candidates for Charlotte mayor; Justin Cardone
and David Gable, candidates for Charlotte City Council, and; Richard Norman
and Thomas Leinbach, candidates for Winston-Salem City Council.

The final plaintiff is Jennifer Schulz, a registered Libertarian voter.

The suit not only challenges the requirements for petitioning to be
recognized as a political party and the requisite that a party receive ten
percent of the vote statewide to retain recognition, it also seeks to
overturn other statutory restrictions on so-called third parties.

These restrictions include the disqualification of members of third parties
from the state and county boards of election, the unfavorable placement of
third party candidates on the ballot and the prohibition against a third
party allowing registered voters of other parties to vote in its primary.

Libertarians also want to overturn statutes that allow state officials to
change a voter's registration without their permission when their party is
decertified and allow third parties the same use of public buildings granted
to Democrats and Republicans.

The suit argues the "state scheme of statutory regulation of political
parties" violates several provisions of the state constitution. Specifically
it cites: Article I, Sections 1, 12 & 14 which protect the individual's
right to freedom of expression and association and to due process;

- Article I, Section 10 which provides "All elections shall be free;"

- Article I, Section 19 which guarantees equal protection of the laws to all

- Article VI, Section 1 which says all eligible voters shall be entitled to
vote in any election, and;

- Article VI, Section 6 which says every qualified voter is eligible for
election to office unless otherwise disqualified by the constitution.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Ironic Proposed Change To Draft Of Iraq Constitution

The UN is preparing copies of the draft version of the Iraq Constitution. I found one proposed change to be very interesting. The change is being pushed by the United States.

Here it is...[according to an AP story in today's Charlotte Observer]


The removed text: "All individuals have the right to enjoy the rights stated in international human rights agreements and treaties endorsed by Iraq that don't run contrary to the principles and rules of this constitution."

The reason: The United States reportedly sought its removal, out of concern that it allowed the constitution to supersede international treaties

Gee, our government shoudn't be concerned. Our constitution never got in the way of us joining the UN or NAFTA or CAFTA. Why shoud Iraq's constitution be any different. Just like it is here in the USA, whoever is in power is Caesar.

Our constitution has been reduced to dead letter.

I expect the Iraq Constitution will be dead letter before the ink drys.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Libertarians Deserve Their Place At The Political Table

[From Si Cantrell, Wilmington Star]

When it comes to divvying up the spoils of victory, the two major parties are of one mind: They don’t want anyone else at the table.
That’s why the Libertarian Party was decertified last month by the State Board of Elections.
North Carolina has some of the harshest laws in the nation when it comes to recognizing political parties. A party must get 10 percent of the votes for either governor or president, or it will be abolished.
Libertarians don’t get the votes, so every four years they have to collect signatures equal to at least 2 percent of the votes cast in the most recent governor’s race, about 70,000 valid voter signatures this time.
It cost around $100,000 to gather those signatures four years ago, said Sean Haugh, executive director of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina. Now they have to start over.
Being a party makes it easier for Libertarian candidates to get on ballots. Now, Democrats and Republicans are the only players.
“If there’s one thing the two parties can agree on, it’s that Libertarians need to be held to a high standard,” said John Evans, chairman of New Hanover County’s Libertarians.
He said workers will collect signatures at the upcoming city elections on Oct. 11. He needs volunteers. Call him at 232-0690 if you’re interested.
Mr. Haugh said his party is filing a lawsuit seeking to overturn our ballot access laws. He said as barriers to free elections, they’re unconstitutional.
State Rep. Paul Miller, D-Durham, introduced a bill easing the requirements. It passed the House, but was watered down greatly. Libertarians hope to restore the easier rules before it’s voted on in the Senate next year.
I have mixed feelings about third parties. As a self-confessed Democrat, I didn’t have warm feelings about the decisive role Green Party candidate Ralph Nader played in the close 2000 election. And some Republicans think the great sucking sound they heard in 1992 was Ross Perot siphoning off votes for former President George H.W. Bush, who lost.
It can be irritating when a candidate who hasn’t got a chance costs your man the election. But that’s politics.
Mr. Haugh said that with our state’s districts being so carefully gerrymandered to favor one party or the other, Libertarians are often the only opposition an incumbent faces.
Having people run unopposed in designer districts isn’t good for democracy. Third-party candidates sometimes raise issues others won’t touch.
Mr. Haugh said in 1992, a Libertarian candidate for governor, Scott McLaughlin, campaigned on a crazy idea to get rid of the sales tax on food. Now there’s no state sales tax on the food we buy for home preparation. Mr. Haugh said politicians of both parties clamored to take credit for the change.
Richard Winger of Ballot Access News said North Carolina’s percentage requirements for getting on the ballot and remaining a party are both exactly five times tougher than the national median. Many states count percentages in any statewide election, so if a Libertarian gets the right percentage on an office like high court judge or treasurer, their party would stay alive. Not here.
Mr. Winger said our state requirements were raised after the Socialist Workers Party had some success in 1980. The General Assembly decided that wouldn’t do at all.
Mr. Evans compared the Libertarians’ plight, starting over as a new party every four years, to Sisyphus. He’s the guy in Greek mythology who was condemned to spend all his time trying to roll a big rock up a hill. The rock kept rolling back down.
The Libertarians would rather keep trying to roll that rock up the hill than join the Democrats or Republicans. After watching the endless talking-point debates of Sunday morning news shows, I begin to understand why.
Sign the petition to let them back on the ballot. And call your lawmakers in Raleigh and demand that they make our election laws more fair.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Professor Weighs In On Ballot Access

N.C.'s repressive stance on ballot access

DURHAM -- I'm a registered Libertarian. Or I should say that I was. Now I am an outcast, a pariah. I hope I don't have to go sew a pink "L" on my shirt as an outward sign of my shame.

The State Board of Elections decided on Aug. 22 to take away my right to register or vote as a Libertarian. Now, they are being fair about it: they deny the same right to the Greens, the Socialists or any other third party.

But this was a significant decision, because we had made it onto the ballot. There were 13,000 of us actually registered as Libertarians. And more than 50,000 North Carolinians voted for Barbara Howe, the Libertarian gubernatorial candidate, in 2004.

Do we "need" a third party? Do we need all that clutter, and choice, on the ballot?

Suppose you asked Ford and General Motors if the American public "needs" more choices. They'd probably say no. We don't need those Toyotas, or Lexus sedans or nice little Honda hybrids. We don't even need Dodges, Jeeps, Chryslers or other American cars. Two choices ought to be enough, our leaders with a stake in those "choices" might have us believe.

The result is that by two different measures -- access and retention -- our state has among the top-five most restrictive and undemocratic ballot access laws in the nation. We are in violation of United Nation rules on ballot access and fall well short of the requirements for "Free and Fair" elections that we publish and use to evaluate nations like Nicaragua or the Philippines. We were one of only three states where Ralph Nader was kept off the ballot in both 2000 and 2004.

Now, you can be for Nader, or against him, as a presidential candidate, but how can you argue that voters can't make their own choices? Some people accused Nader of denying Al Gore the election in 2000. But you can't blame the Green Party for trying to articulate an alternative vision of government and society, because that kind of competition of ideas is the foundation of a healthy democracy. The problem is a system of election law that forces us to make such stylized choices.

The state might argue that it doesn't exclude third parties. All a party, or a candidate, has to do is collect signatures on a petition. One hundred thousand signatures!

This means the aspiring party has to spend months of time and all of its meager cash standing on street corners and begging. Not just once. Every time there is an election. That is just too difficult a hurdle for an excluded party to jump over.

Our leaders claim they just want to keep "illegitimate" parties off the ballot. Why should the ruling two-party oligarchy decide which parties are legitimate and which are not? If we need ballot restrictions to keep certain parties away on Election Day, we must be afraid that people might actually vote for such "illegitimate" parties. To me, the fact that people might vote for them is what would prove those parties are legitimate.

The very idea of such ballot restrictions is wrong: these laws are both relatively new and completely unnecessary. Until 1981, North Carolina had much less onerous requirements, and we never had the "cluttered" ballots this law is supposed to save us from.

And other states?

The average petition requirement, across all other states, is just one-half of 1 percent; that's a quarter of our present requirement in North Carolina (2 percent of the total votes cast in the preceding gubernatorial or presidential race). No state with a requirement of at least 5,000 petition signatures has ever had even 10 choices on the ballot. Very few states have as many as four alternatives.

The problem is not with the parties that want to offer choices, or with the citizens who would like to see some challenges to the status quo.

The problem is with the overly restrictive and repressive laws that keep all of us from having a voice in the first place. The Political Repression Hall of Fame is not how we should want to be remembered as a state, or as a people.

(Michael Munger chairs Duke University's political science department. He has announced his intention to run for governor in 2008, if the Libertarians regain ballot access.