While much of the news generated during the past week in the N.C. General Assembly centered on budgetary issues and health care, a little-ballyhooed bill was introduced that could have significant impact on state’s elections. And to make it more intriguing, HB 32
(the Electoral Freedom Act of 2011 — its full title happens to be some 94 words long) even carried the distinction of bipartisan — even tri-partisan — sponsorship.
Current N.C. ballot-access laws are among the more restrictive in the country. New political parties must petition the State Board of Elections with voter signatures totaling at least 2 percent of the number of votes cast for governor in the preceding general election. Those signatures must also include 200 voters from each of the four congressional districts in the state. Then, having gained access to the ballot, the party must poll at least 2 percent of the entire vote cast for governor or for presidential electors in order to keep itself listed on the ballot.