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N.C. Supreme Court rules against Libertarians, Greens in ballot access suit

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 1:22 PM

The N.C. Supreme Court ruled* today against the state Libertarian and Green parties in their challenge of North Carolina's petition signature requirements for access to the state election ballot.

Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson writes:

In the present case, the two percent party recognition requirement of N.C.G.S. § 163-96(a)(2) may burden minor political parties somewhat, but it does not impose a severe burden. First, minority parties seeking recognition pursuant to N.C.G.S. § 163-96(a)(2) have over three and one-half years to acquire the requisite number of signatures. Second, section 163-96(a) places few restrictions on signatories. While these persons must be “registered and qualified voters in this State,” they need not register with or promise to vote for candidates of the party seeking recognition. N.C.G.S. § 163-96(a)(2). Signatories are even allowed to vote in a primary of a major party. See id. Third, a handful of supporters can acquire the requisite number of signatures. During the 2004–2008 election cycle, for example, over eighty-five thousand signatures were collected for the Libertarian Party by only five people.

Moreover, section 163-96(a)(2) does not impose a severe burden in that the two percent signature requirement is readily achievable. For instance, in 2008 the two percent threshold required signatures from only 69,734 of North Carolina’s approximately 5,734,000 registered voters. Further, a minor party has met the two percent recognition requirement eight times in the past five gubernatorial elections.

Third parties still could see ballot access restrictions loosened, despite this new Supreme Court opinion, depending on the response to the Electoral Freedom Act under consideration now in the legislature.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this entry listed an incorrect vote in this case.


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