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How You Can Help Fix Ballot Access Laws in North Carolina

by Richard Winger, published

As already noted on October 5, the North Carolina legislature passed the ballot access bill, SB 656 -- titled the "Electoral Freedom Act." There is a danger that Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, will veto it.

There is a provision in the bill, unrelated to ballot access, that cancels the 2018 primaries for state judicial elections, and Democrats are opposed to this.

Ballot access reform bills have been proposed in North Carolina for 31 years, and this is the first time one has passed the legislature. North Carolina requires a higher percentage of signatures to get a minor party or independent presidential candidate on the ballot (using the easiest method) than any other state.

The current law required 89,366 signatures in 2016, and will require 94,221 in 2020 if the law remains unchanged. The law requires 2% of the last gubernatorial vote.

Because North Carolina elects its governors in presidential years, 2% of the vote total in a high-turnout presidential year is significantly worse than the other 2% states (Indiana and Wyoming) because in presidential years their 2% is based on the midterm turnout.

Here is a brief overview of what SB 656 does:

  • It lowers the petition for a newly-qualifying party from about 94,000 signatures, to about 12,000 signatures;
  • It lowers the petition from 2% of the last gubernatorial vote, to one-fourth of 1% of the last gubernatorial vote;
  • It lowers the petition for independent candidates, but not as much; and
  • It improves the petition deadline for independent candidates, from April to June.

Here is the form by which anyone may send a message to Governor Cooper. If you would rather send him a postal letter, the address is 20301 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-0301.

Important presidential candidates who have been kept off the North Carolina presidential ballot include Eugene McCarthy in 1976, Ron Paul in 1988, Ralph Nader in all the years he ran, all of the Green Party presidential nominees, all of the Constitution Party nominees, and Evan McMullin in 2016.

The right to vote includes the right of choice for whom to vote.

Editor's note: This article originally published on Ballot Access News, and has been modified slightly for publication on IVN.

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone/

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