By Richard Winger | Ballot Access News
On September 14, the North Carolina legislature adjourned its 3-day special session without having passed any election law bills. The session only passed three bills on any subject. The legislature may reconvene on November 7, 2011. That will be the last chance for ballot access reform to pass in time for the 2012 election, because in 2012, the legislature won’t convene until May.
The best chance for any progress in North Carolina ballot access reform now lies with the Fourth Circuit, which hears a challenge to the independent petition requirement for U.S. House candidates on September 22. That case is Greene v Bartlett, 10-2068. No independent candidate in the history of government-printed ballots has ever appeared on the North Carolina ballot for U.S. House. North Carolina has used government-printed ballots since 1901. The current law requires approximately 20,000 valid signatures for an independent for U.S. House.
Rules of the Fourth Circuit provide that the public cannot know which three judges will hear the case, until the hearing date itself. In most circuits, the public can know which judges will be hearing the case a week before the hearing date. Bob Bastress, a law professor who has argued many ballot access cases over the past 32 years, will be representing the independent candidate who filed the lawsuit. The hearing is in Richmond, Virginia, at 9:30 a.m., in the U.S. Court of Appeals Courthouse at 1000 E. Main Street.
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