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Degraded North Carolina Bill Passes House

Published on August 24, 2005, by in General.

During the early morning hours of August 24, the North Carolina House passed H88, the ballot access bill. Unfortunately, it was amended so that it does more harm than good. The bill does lower the number of signatures needed for a statewide independent from 2% of the number of registered voters to 2% of the last gubernatorial vote, but this is required by a court decision last year anyway. The only other improvement it makes is to lower the vote test (for a party to remain on the ballot) from 10% to 7%. But it makes existing law more restrictive by moving the petition deadline two months earlier, and requiring the nominees of parties that nominate by convention to pay filing fees. The bill cannot pass this year anyway, since the Senate has gone home. However, the bill remains alive and could pass next year.

2 Responses

  1. Elena Everett

    In the middle of the night on August 23, 2005, the North Carolina House succeeded in passing a mutilated version of a bill whose original intent was to reform North Carolina’s reactionary and regressive ballot access laws.

    House Bill 88, The Electoral Fairness Act was the latest attempt from ballot access reformers to change North Carolina’s laws, which are the second worst in the country as far as providing fair and equitable access for citizens seeking to run for office or for citizens seeking form political associations in the form of recognized political parties.

    By dawn, the NC House had succeeded in passing a version of the bill that in effect did exactly the opposite of what it was intended.

    Throughout various amendments to HB88 during committee meetings, Representatives added fees, shortened the timeframe during which independents or third parties could gather signatures, and limited the scope of who could run for office as an independent or third party candidate.

    The final blow came from Representative Phil Haire (D-Jackson), who succeeded in completely gutting the proposed changes to signature requirements on the House floor; this was HB88’s only lasting redeeming quality after passing through 3 versions in the Election Law and Finance Committees.

    In 2004 a federal judge ruled that North Carolina imposes an unconstitutional burden on unaffiliated political candidates who want a spot on the ballot in a suit brought by NC resident Paul Delaney against the NC Board of Elections. The NC House has done nothing to change these conditions.

    Although this amended version of the bill has passed the NC House and is now scheduled for the Senate Judiciary Committee – the NC Green Party opposes its adoption of a bill that has been turned into a mockery of itself.

    The title of HB 88 be amended to: The “Shut Everyone out of the Democratic Process Except You and Your Big Party Donors” Bill

    Sincerely,
    Elena Everett
    Chair, NC Green Party

  2. Plus, the final passed version does not change anything for down-ballot races. The original bill did. Now, it only concerns itself with changes for party status and statewide unaffiliated candidates. This bill is deplorable!

    Brendan Davidson
    Secretary, Socialist Party of NC.
    Candidate for Salisbury City Council.

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