Good for them

Published 11:53 pm Sunday, May 18, 2008

By Staff
The chances of a Libertarian candidate or other third-party candidate getting elected in North Carolina is slim, especially when it’s extremely difficult for such candidates to even get on ballots.
That does not mean the Libertarian Party, Green Party and other third parties are giving up when it comes to getting their candidates on ballots. To their credit, they are fighting to give voters more choices.
On Thursday, Libertarian officials, including gubernatorial hopeful Mike Munger, delivered nearly 73,000 signatures on petitions asking that the party receive official status to the N.C. State Board of Elections. North Carolina law requires a third party to obtain at least 69,734 signatures by June 2 so that party’s candidates can be included on ballots for the upcoming general elections.
N.C. State Board of Elections employees will verify that the signatures were properly obtained before recommending to the board whether the Libertarians have exceeded the threshold, according to a report by The Associated Press.
If the Libertarians have met the requirements, good for them.
The day before the May 6 primaries in North Carolina, a civil trial on a lawsuit that alleges state laws that define a political party are “onerous and violate party members’ rights to free speech and association” began. The parties in that lawsuit are waiting on a judge to issue a ruling in that case.
The lawsuit stems from a decision in 2005 by the N.C. State Board of Elections to revoke Libertarians’ status as an official political party in North Carolina because the party did not acquire at least 10 percent of the votes cast in the 2004 presidential and gubernatorial elections. The status also was revoked because Libertarians collected just 25,000 signatures of the 70,000 signatures they needed on a petition to remain an official party.
It should not take an act of Congress or the N.C. General Assembly to make it easier for third parties to get their candidates on North Carolina ballots, but it may come to that. Perhaps it should come to that.
The more choices North Carolina voters have when they go to the polls, the better off they and the state will be. It’s no secret many Tarheel voters are not happy with having to pick from Democratic and Republican candidates. They want more choices. They deserve more choices. They should demand more third-party candidates on ballots.
With Democrats and Republicans in the majority at the statehouse, it may be difficult for third parties to find relief at the General Assembly. It’s understandable that Republicans and Democrats do not want to make it easier for third parties to get their candidates on ballots. It’s understandable, but it’s not fair.
Third-party members, be they Libertarians, Greens or of other political persuasions, deserve fair and equitable procedures to place their candidates on ballots. North Carolina voters who cannot find in the Republican and Democratic parties the voices who speak for them deserve alternative sources of voice who will speak for them.
The nearly 73,000 signatures the Libertarians collected indicates some North Carolina voters want third parties to have a chance when it comes to helping govern this state. That’s a reasonable request.
It’s time a candidate like Munger gets to see his name on ballots in the Old North State.