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LPNC is Suing the State
The LPNC continues to wage its court battle against North Carolina's restrictive ballot access laws. Make your donation online, or call (877) 843-5762. You can also send checks to:

Libertarian Party of North Carolina
PO Box 28141
Raleigh, NC 27611

Judge Upholds Ballot Access Restrictions

News Release
Libertarian Party of North Carolina
PO Box 28141 Raleigh NC 27611
Contact: Brian Irving
Cell: 910.987.5844

RALEIGH (05/28/2008) -- A Superior Court judge ruled May 27 that "there is no fundamental right for a voter to vote for the party of their choice" and threw out the state Libertarian Party's challenge to North Carolina's elections laws.

Judge Robert Hobgood ruled in the lawsuit filed by the Libertarian and Green parties challenging the legality of the State's elections laws under the North Carolina Constitution.

"We're deeply saddened by this ruling," said Barbara Howe, LPNC chair. "Not only did the judge support the State's power to take away our right to choose who represents us, he also upheld the State's assertion that North Carolina voters are not smart enough to fill out a so-called long ballot."

"This is a very sad day for representative government," she said.

The judge agreed with the State's argument that the number of elected offices that may appear on the ballot in Presidential election years, along with the use of optical scanning equipment, can cause "voter confusion."

"The more parties there are that are recognized by the State and that place candidates on the ballot, the greater the chance there is for ballots that are so long as to be unwieldy and to risk voter confusion and frustration of the electoral process," Judge Hobgood wrote.

"In effect, the State says North Carolina voters are not as smart as Iraqis, who had more than 100 parties to choose from in their elections," Howe said .

The party now has to decide whether it can afford to appeal this decision. "We are out of money, having spent nearly $140,000 already to get back on the ballot," she said.

"Whether we appeal or not, the Libertarian Party is not going away. We will continue to fight for our rights and the rights of all North Carolinians," Howe concluded.

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We're Back on the Ballot!

News Release
Libertarian Party of North Carolina
PO Box 28141 Raleigh NC 27611
Contact: Brian Irving
Cell: 910.987.5844

LIBERTARIANS BACK ON BALLOT

RALEIGH (May 22) -- The Libertarian Party is back on the ballot in North Carolina. The State Board of Elections formally certified the party today. North Carolina voters who so choose can now register Libertarian.

"This was our eighth ballot access drive. Without a doubt, it was the most nerve-racking and exhausting one we've conducted," said Barbara Howe, state chair. "We are now back on the ballot, but we are out of funds, so we have no money to support candidates."

Nevertheless, the Libertarians will field a slate of candidates in November, she said. At their 2008 convention in Burlington held in April, the party nominated Dr. Michael Munger, chair of the Duke University political science department, for governor. They also nominated candidates for the General Assembly, U.S. Congress, and the Guilford County Commission.

Libertarians have until July 1 to submit a complete list of candidates to the SBOE, Howe noted. "We expect now that we are officially on the ballot, we will have more people come forward who want to spread the message of liberty."

North Carolina ballot laws are the most restrictive in the nation. "They're designed by the Democrats and Republicans to keep independent candidates and third parties off the ballot," said Dr. Munger. The LPNC spent an estimated $134,000 and logged 2,200 volunteer hours to collect the nearly 70,000 valid signatures needed.

"This also costs the taxpayer, stifles democracy, and, worst of all, kills trees," Dr. Munger quipped. "County BOE clerks spend 4,000 hours verifying the more than 108,000 signatures we submitted." That's based on an estimate of two minutes to verify each signature. In some cases, it takes 5 to 10 minutes, Dr. Munger said.

"And we used more than 20 reams of paper, 400 pounds," Dr. Munger said. "And after all this time, effort and expense, we essentially arrive at the starting line breathless."

"Since the process keeps most parties out completely, the real cost to taxpayers is democracy." Dr. Munger said. "No choices, no new ideas, and no competition in a system that could surely use it.

"Nearly half of the seats in the General Assembly will be unopposed again this year because we have had to spend all our resources on this bizarre exercise instead of recruiting candidates and campaigning."

Meanwhile, Libertarian delegates have departed/will depart for the 2008 Libertarian National Convention in Denver May 22 to 26. The Convention will nominate a candidate for president, who will be on the ballot in 48 states. A debate featuring the Libertarian candidates seeking the presidential nomination will be aired live on CSPAN Saturday, May 24 from 7 to 9 p.m. (MST).

"Unlike the Democratic and Republican national conventions, ours is not subsidized by taxpayer money," Howe noted.

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Petitions Turned In! - May 15, 2008

We delivered 72,935 verified signatures to the SBOE this morning. Hooray!

Barbara

PS: We should hear next week that they have accepted our turn in and you will be able to go register Libertarian.

Getting ready to deliver

BOE signing the receipt

Barbara seals the deal


LPNC ANNOUNCEMENTS - May 12, 2008

WE'RE BACK (ON THE BALLOT)

Hello Friends:

I just want to quickly update everyone on the status of our petition drive and lawsuit.

Things didn't quite go as planned for a petition turn in last week. Several of the county Boards of Elections did not returned our verified petitions in time for us to prepare for a May 8 turn in.

PETITION TURN IN!!

We are now scheduled to turn all of our petitions this Thursday, May 15 at 10:00 a. m. at the State Board of Elections office. If you want to meet Mike Munger, me and others at the SBOE, please let me know. There are 11 boxes, so we can use the extra hands. The SBOE is located at 506 N. Harrington Street, Raleigh.

The SBOE will take a few days to review the petitions. You should be able to register Libertarian some time next week.

LAWSUIT TRIAL

The second event I told you about in my most recent email did happen as planned. We did have our day in court. Actually, two and a half days.

We were excited to finally have the opportunity to put our case before a judge, in this case Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood.

The LPNC was represented by Ken Soo and Adam Mitchell from the firm of Tharrington Smith in Raleigh.

As you know, the Green Party joined in our lawsuit as intervenors and they were represented by attorneys from the ACLU, Robert Elliott and Katie Parker.

The state was represented by Alec Peters and Karen Long of the Attorney General's office.

The plaintiffs (LPNC) and the intervenor (Greens) called eight witnesses: Barbara Howe (LPNC Chair), Sean Haugh (former LPNC executive director and currently the National LP Political Director), Elena Everett (former Green Party co-chair), Hart Matthews (former GP executive director), and Gray Newman (a Green party member who wants to run for office). The three expert witness were: Richard Winger (ballot access law), our own gubenatorial candiate Dr. Mike Munger (what makes a political party), and Dr. Stephen Greene (the role of third parties).

The state called no witnesses, but offered the deposition and affidavit testimony of Gary Bartlett and Johnnie McLean, both with the State Board of Elections.

There were really no surprises during the testimony. All of our witnesses presented their testimony calmly and thoroughly and all handled the state's cross examination questions with ease.

It came as somewhat of a surprise when Mr. Peters requested in his closing argument that if the judge were to find the law unconstitutional, that he not strike down he entire statute, but that he be specific as to which parts were unconstitutional. Mr. Peters pointed out that we are in the middle of an election cycle and so overturning the entire statute would leave the state with no law regarding elections, which would cause great confusion.

After closing arguments, Judge Hobgood requested both sides present him with what they thought the ruling should be. The judge will, of course, write his own ruling, but this request was made so he would be able to ensure that he is thorough in his ruling. Those rulings are due to the judge by tomorrow (Tuesday, May 12).

I feel reasonably optimistic that the ruling will give us something. It could be something of minor importance like being able to keep party registration even if the party becomes decertified or it could be an order to allow the Libertarians and Greens on the 2008 ballot and a broad range in between.

No matter what the ruling, the decision will in all likelihood be appealed, so it's not over yet.

I am quite inexperienced when it comes to matters of the court, but one thing about which I do feel confident is that the judge was listening. He paid careful attention to the testimony and asked many questions.

It's my opinion that he has to rule in our favor. The state claims that it must have rules controlling access to the ballot to avoid ballot clutter and voter confusion. They presented no evidence that such things exist and did not refute our witnesses that said they did not exist. The state's entire case was based on precedent from other, mostly Federal cases.

The state also claims that since NC elects ten state-wide offices, that allowing additional parties on the ballot would make the election ballot too long. Their own witnesses state that this probably isn't a problem any more because of the advances made in voting machine technology.

Our claim acknowledges those prior cases but asks the judge to make his ruling under the concept of "strict scrutiny." That means, if the state has a compelling interest to control access to the ballot have they done that through the least restrictive means possible. We, of course, claim they have not. NC used to have a flat requirement of 10,000 signatures for most of its history, and only 5,000 signatures for a brief time, and the ballot was not cluttered.

Our attorneys also argued that the court was "trying the state constitution" and should consider the issue based solely on the language of the document itself, and no other.

Now we wait. I believe a ruling can come as early as Wednesday after the attorneys submit their last suggestions for the order.

As soon as we know, we'll send you notice.

In liberty,

Barbara Howe
LPNC chair


Lawsuit trial update

(05/09/2008) The three-day trial of the LPNC's challenge to the state's election laws concluded Wednesday with oral arguments. The decision is now in the hands of Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood. It could come as early as next week. The judge asked both sides to submit a draft of the order. That's the document the judge will issue as his ruling. He said he would write his own, but wanted to be sure he included all points.

The defense (the State) offered no evidence and presented no witnesses, other than written statements. The state rests its defense of the existing ballot access laws almost solely on two points, 1) the laws had already been upheld in federal court in 1994 and; 2) since North Carolina elects ten statewide state offices in presidential election years, if there are several minor parties on the ballot and they run candidates for all these statewide state offices, it would result in ballot.clutter. The state also pointed out that since some counties use optical-scan ballots, having too many offices and too many candidates in the general election would require more than a single ballot card for each voter.

The plaintiffs, the LPNC and the NC Greens, called two political scientists as witnesses: Dr. Michael Munger and Dr. Steven Greene. We also presented Libertarian Party leaders, Barbara Howe and Sean Haugh; Green Party leaders, Elena Everett, Hart Matthews, and W. Gray Newman; and ballot expert Richard Winger.

Regardless of the outcome of the trial, the LPNC has sufficient signatures to regain ballot access. These will be delivered to the State Board of Elections on Thursday, May 15 at 10 a.m.


LIBERTARIANS NOMINATE DUKE PROFESSOR FOR GOVERNOR

RALEIGH (April 13) -- Dr. Michael Munger was nominated as the Libertarian candidate for North Carolina Governor today at the party's state convention in Burlington. Dr. Munger is a professor and chair of the Duke University political science, economics, and public policy departments.

"We have planted the tree of liberty, now it's time to pick the fruit," Dr. Munger told the convention after the unanimous vote.

His campaign themes will be controlling municipal aggression against property, establishing a broad-based education vouchers system, ending corporate welfare, and imposing a moratorium on capital punishment.

"We're not the third party in North Carolina," Dr. Munger declared. "In many legislative districts we are the second party, since nearly half of the General Assembly seats are unopposed races."

The Libertarian Party is on the verge of collecting the nearly 70,000 signatures required by law in order to be recognized as a political party by the State Board of Elections.

Libertarians also nominated candidates for state and local officers. Mark McMains of Fuguay-Varina was nominated for Insurance Commissioner. Thomas Hill of Concord was nominated for U.S. Congress District 8.

Libertarian candidates for the General Assembly are: Sean Haugh, House 30; Lawrence Hollar, House 96; Susan Hogarth, House 38; Barbara Howe, House 32; Brian Irving, Senate 17; Richard Evey, Senate 44, and; Stephanie Watson, Senate 16.

Paul Elledge is the candidate for Guilford County Commissioner at-large.

Dr. Mary Ruwart of Texas, a candidate for the Libertarian presidential nomination, was the overwhelming choice of delegates in a non-binding straw poll. Several other presidential candidates attended the convention, including former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel and former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr.

Libertarians amended their platform, adding a plank calling on the state to "refuse to implement any national identification program," like the Real ID. Additional new planks include a call for the the repeal of all local sign ordinances as an infringement on free speech, a repeal of state regulations that prohibit the reuse of privately owned water on private property, and a call to stop fluoridation of public water supplies.

The convention filled several vacancies on the state executive committee, chose delegates to the Libertarian National Convention in Denver, May 23 to 25, and selected Presidential Electors.


  • News Release
  • Libertarian Party of North Carolina
  • PO Box 28141 Raleigh NC 27611
  • Contact: Brian Irving
  • Cell: 910.987.5844

NC Ballot Cluttered Again — With Unopposed Incumbents

RALEIGH (March 3) -- The filing period for the November election is now closed and North Carolina's ballot is once again cluttered -- cluttered with candidates running unopposed for General Assembly.

Nearly 40 percent of the candidates running for the state legislature will get a "free" ride into office, paid for by North Carolina taxpayers, even those who were denied a chance to run for office in the party of the choice.

"These races are not just unopposed, they are 'unoppose-able,' " said Barbara Howe, state chair of the Libertarian Party. "The Democrats and Republicans have gerrymandered the districts and restricted ballot access to anyone but themselves to guarantee they maintain control of state government."

There are 52 unopposed candidates in the 120 member House and 13 unopposed in the 50 member Senate. All but one are incumbents and only one has a primary challenge.

One of the unopposed candidates is Rep. Thomas Wright (Dem-18th District), who is pending trial for fraud and may be expelled from the House for ethics violations.

"Of course, the Democrats and Republican will claim this is better than previous General Assembly elections, because in 2002 and 2004 close to half the seats were unopposed," said Howe. "But it still is a symptom that North Carolina does not suffer from 'ballot clutter' but 'ballot deficit disorder.'"

In previous attempts to reform the state's ballot access laws, arguably the most restrictive in the nation, some legislators argued that multiple candidates would "clutter the ballot" and confuse voters. Howe scoffs at this argument.

"We have a deficit in the number of candidates allowed to run and a deficit in the quality of candidates put forth by the so-called two major parties," she added.

The two so-called major parties are actually a political duopoly whose sole purpose is to maintain its grip on power, Libertarians assert. "They collaborate in gerrymandering the districts to create 'safe' seats for their anointed candidates, and divide the spoils," Howe said. There are 30 Democrats and 13 Republicans running unchallenged.

North Carolina Libertarians are very close to being able to challenge the two-party duopoly, Howe said. They are near completion of their ballot access drive, which requires them to collect about 70,000 verified signatures to be certified as a political party. They are about 3,000 signatures short of meeting that goal. The deadline for the petitions is June 1.

"We hope to give the voters of North Carolina a real choice in these unopposed races," Howe said. The Libertarians will nominate candidates for the General Assembly and state offices at the convention April 11-13 in Burlington.

In 2002, the party had candidates running for a majority of the seats in the legislature. "If it weren't for Libertarians running, that election would also have had a majority of the seats unopposed," Howe noted.

North Carolina has arguably the most restrictive ballot access requirements in the nation. It requires a new party to collect signatures from two percent of the number of people who voted in the most recent gubernatorial election to be recognized under state law.

This equates to about 70,000 signatures, five times more than the median requirement of any other state with similar rules. Then, the new party must achieve two percent of the vote in order to maintain state recognition.

The Libertarians are challenging North Carolina's election laws in court. They filed suit in September 2005 and were later joined by the Green Party. Several individual Libertarian and Green party members are also listed as plaintiffs.

The suit asks the court to declare invalid all North Carolina's statues regulating political parties. This includes the number of signatures required to get on the ballot and the number of votes need to retain ballot status.

A superior court judge recently denied motions for a summary judgment in the case. It will probably go to a trial court "we hope very soon" said Howe.

The LPNC has their ballot access petition on line at www.lpnc.org. You can download and print the petition, then sign and mail it to LPNC, PO Box 28141, Raleigh, NC 27611.

-30-


  • News Release
  • Libertarian Party of North Carolina
  • PO Box 28141 Raleigh NC 27611
  • Contact: Brian Irving
  • Cell: 910.987.5277

NO SUMMARY JUDGMENT IN LPNC LAWSUIT

RALEIGH (January 30) -- A superior court judge denied motions for summary judgment today in the Libertarian Party of North Carolina's lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state's election statutes.

Judge Leon Stanback Jr. said that, although he personally believed North Carolina's signature requirements for ballot access are too high, both sides in the case clearly do not agree on all the facts presented to him. Therefore, he said the case should be properly decided by a trial court.

"We're surprised, and pleased, by this ruling," said Sean Haugh, former LPNC executive director and a plaintiff in the suit. "Neither side expected this result." The trial will probably be held in March.

The LPNC initiated the suit in September 2005 and was later joined by the Green Party. Several individual Libertarian and Green party members are also listed as plaintiffs. The suit asks the court to declare invalid all North Carolina's statutes regulating political parties. This includes the number of signatures required to get on the ballot and the number of votes needed to retain ballot status.

Libertarians contend that North Carolina has the most restrictive ballot access rules in the nation.

State law requires a new party to collect signatures from two percent of the number of people who voted in the previous presidential or gubernatorial election in order to be recognized under state law. This equates to about 70,000 signatures, five times more than the median requirement of any other state with similar rules.

Then, the new party must achieve two percent of the vote for governor of president in order to maintain state recognition.

Meanwhile, the LPNC continue the ballot access drive. Currently, we have collected about 97,000 raw signatures and have about 58,000 signatures verified. Our goal is still 100,000 in order to reach the "magic number" of need 69,733 valid signatures.

-30-




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