By Jordon M. Greene | Lenoir News-Topic (Letter to the Editor)
Last Tuesday, the N.C. House passed the Electoral Freedom Act, a bill to ease access to the ballot. Currently, North Carolina has the second highest signature requirement in the nation, requiring over 85,000 signatures for ballot access, or 75,000 more than two-thirds of the states. The bill would reform N.C.’s ballot access laws by requiring around 18,000 signatures for ballot access.
However, both of Caldwell County’s elected representatives voted against passage of this common sense voting rights bill. The regulations that Representatives Edgar Starnes and Phillip Frye voted to keep undemocratically restricts freedom of speech at the ballot box by virtually ensuring that only the Republicans and Democrats are able to appear on the ballot. These laws artificially limit choice by preventing alternative candidates from being on the ballot and thereby prevent voters who disagree with the two major parties from freely expressing who they wish to represent them.
Voting is one of the citizen’s most important venues of freedom of speech. It is where citizens express whom they believe should govern in their stead and N.C. law clearly violates that right. The Electoral Freedom Act would right this wrong.
While Starnes and Frye voted against the bill, Starnes opposed the bill on the House floor. Starnes said, “In spite of empirical evidence that you cite I think it opens the door for mischief…” in a response to Representative Stephen LaRoque citing historical data that debunked the myths of ballot clutter. Starnes stated, “I like the two-party system. I like the Republicans and the Democrats… This [bill] just muddies the water, and I just don’t see any real benefit to either the Republicans and Democrats…”
Representative Starnes’ key fallacy is that he places the importance of the two major parties on a pedestal about the individual to which our state constitution guarantees freedom of speech, association and self-government through free elections.
So while we can choose between multiple types of any menial product our state representatives believe that when it comes to electing officials to govern that all views must be channeled through the two major parties alone. It seems that Starnes and Frye do not care for the fact that they were elected to represent the interest and freedom of the people, not the permanence of their party.
Can our liberties afford another election of Representatives Starnes and Frye?
This article appeared in the Lenoir News-Topic as a Letter to the Editor.