Libertarians Lose Ballot Spot, File Suit

For the first time since 1996, the Libertarian Party has lost ballot status in North Carolina. The party is now faced with a lawsuit against the state and an expensive petition drive to regain access before the 2006 elections.

Monday morning, Beverly Wilcox of Wentworth was one of 13,006 registered Libertarians in North Carolina.

Today, Wilcox is an unaffiliated voter, and the Libertarian Party is no longer recognized by the State Board of Elections.

“It’s phenomenally frustrating for me,” said Wilcox, a member of her group’s state executive committee and a candidate in her town council race.

In general, Libertarians are seen as fiscal conservatives and social liberals, stressing a philosophy that the less government does the better.

Although Democrats and Republicans make up the lion’s share of North Carolina’s registered voters, the Libertarians’ certified status gave their candidates a key advantage. Unlike unaffiliated voters, who have to gather signatures to get on a ballot in a partisan election, members of certified parties simply need to pay a filing fee and submit paperwork.

To give their candidates that advantage again in the 2006 election, the party will have to collect 69,734 signatures across the state. In the mean time, Libertarian candidates in Winston-Salem and Charlotte municipal contests—which unlike most city races are partisan elections—will lose their spots on the ballot. And Libertarians throughout North Carolina will soon get notice in the mail that their party no longer is certified and that they have the option of staying unaffiliated or registering as a Democrat or a Republican.

Top Libertarian officials say they will sue to overturn the state board’s ruling along with North Carolina’s ballot access laws, which are some of the toughest in the nation. They also say they will continue a campaign to gather enough signatures on petitions to regain their certified status.

“If you’re not a Republican or Democrat in this state, you’re a second-class citizen,” said Thomas Hill of Concord, the state party’s chairman.

The board of elections had twice delayed a decision on the Libertarian’s status, but declined to do so again, saying they had to make a decision before this year’s elections.

Sean Haugh, the party’s executive director, said that he had hoped the board would delay the decision Monday to let Libertarian candidates already on this year’s ballots remain. Party officials had also hoped the General Assembly would pass a bill by Rep. Paul Miller, a Durham Democrat, which would make it easier for third parties to stay on the ballot. But Miller said Monday that it was unlikely that the measure would pass before the legislature ends its session for the year.

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2 Responses to “Libertarians Lose Ballot Spot, File Suit”

  1. Mike N. Says:

    Why are the “established” parties so afraid to allow competition?

  2. Seth Dilday Says:

    Don’t forget to donate to LPNC’s ballot access/lawsuit campaign: http://www.lpnc.org/get_involved/ballot_access.html

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