The September 8 Washington Post has this lengthy story, listing all the election law changes made by the 2013 session of the North Carolina legislature. The story is useful, but unfortunately it will give readers a false impression about ballot access for minor parties. One of the subtitles in the story says, “It’ll be cheaper for third parties to get on the ballot.” The story then accurately explains that the 2013 session of the legislature lowered the number of signatures in lieu of a filing fee, for candidates who don’t wish to pay the candidate filing fee.
Unfortunately, the change in the petition in lieu of filing fee has virtually no practical significance, because it is still cheaper for a candidate to pay the filing fee than to get the signatures of 5,000 voters (the old petition in lieu of the filing fee was 10,000 signatures). Because the article’s subtitle refers to third parties, instead of petitions in lieu of filing fees, an ordinary reader will think that North Carolina recently reformed its severe ballot access petition requirements for newly-qualifying parties and independent candidates, but the legislature rejected bills to do that. North Carolina still requires 89,366 valid signatures for ballot access. The House passed a bill to at least study the issue of ballot access, but the State Senate rejected that bill also.
The story also errs when it says only four states now have straight-ticket devices. Actually twelve states still have them. Thanks to Rick Hasen for the link.