Ballot Access Reform

The right to vote is one of our most cherished and important rights in our democratic system. Without the right to vote only a few would make the choices that affect every single one of us in our daily lives with little to no recourse to protect our life, liberty and happiness. This often time overlooked right, as well as civic responsibility, ensures that those in positions of authority are accountable to the people and in doing such ensure to the people their right to self-government.

New Political Parties

Legal Requirement: 2% of the last vote cast for Governor

Signature Requirement: 89,366 (2014 & 2016)

Reference: NCGS 163-96(a)(2)

Statewide Unaffiliated Candidates

Legal Requirement: 2% of the last vote cast for Governor

Signature Requirement: 89,366 (2014 & 2016)

Reference: NCGS 163-122(a)(1)

District Unaffiliated Candidates

Legal Requirement: 4% of the total number of registered voters in the district

Signature Requirement:
Congress: 19,952 (avg), 21,909 (max)
State Senate: 5,188 (avg), 6,072 (max)
State House: 2,161 (avg), 2,727 (max)

Reference: NCGS 163-122(a)(2-4)

Ballot Access Resources

The issue of ballot access law is an issue that has the dangerous potential to impede the citizen′s right to vote based on their political affiliation or candidate choice.

Ballot access laws, while a necessary component of our election system, have been sorely abused in our state in varying degrees since their inception in 1901 (legal history). While some level of legal requirements to obtain access to the election ballot are needed and serves to provide smooth and legitimate elections excessive legal requirements have the opposite effect. Instead, these requirements, like North Carolina′s, virtually outlaw political competition and harshly encroach on the individual′s ability to exercise their right to vote effectively, to be able to vote for the candidates and views of their choice.

These laws restrict voter choice and participation by making it nearly impossible for unaffiliated candidates or candidates of alternative parties to gain a spot on the North Carolina election ballot by requiring huge sums of signatures. North Carolina′s ballot access laws present a case of excessive regulation on access to the voting process that is seldom paralleled in other states and even nations. Our state′s ballot laws rank as some of the most restrictive in the entire nation and regretfully require the absolute highest number of signatures within the United States for access to the ballot for new political parties (89,366) and often times for unaffiliated congressional candidates (24,000 approx.).

While some regulation is needed, North Carolina′s ballot access laws are unjustifiably restrictive and serve no legitimate function but to limit political competition. Such is evidenced by the fact that over two-thirds of the states require 10,000 or fewer signatures. The only state that even comes close to North Carolina?s excessive 89,366 requirement is Georgia, which still requires some 30,000 signatures less than North Carolina. As evidenced by our state′s own history, our election process was in no way put in jeopardy when North Carolina required only 10,000 signatures for a new party to appear on the ballot for over fifty years.

Studies, such as Dr. Barry C. Burden′s in 2003 have shown that ballot access requirements like North Carolina′s ″effectively eliminate all competition aside from the Democrats and Republicans.″ It is time to restore voter choice and in doing such to restore the free speech, freedom of association, more accurate representation and self-government that come from it.