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
"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,"
"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
We're Back on the Ballot!
Libertarian Party of North Carolina
PO Box 28141 Raleigh NC 27611
Contact: Brian Irving
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.
Petitions Turned In! - May 15, 2008
We delivered 72,935 verified signatures to the SBOE
this morning. Hooray!
PS: We should hear next week that they have accepted
our turn in and you will be able to go register
Getting ready to deliver
BOE signing the receipt
Barbara seals the deal
LPNC ANNOUNCEMENTS - May 12, 2008
WE'RE BACK (ON THE BALLOT)
I just want to quickly update everyone on the status of our petition drive and
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.
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
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
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.
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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 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
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
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"
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.
- 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
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.