Keep fighting

Published 2:12 am Sunday, June 1, 2008

By Staff
It’s disappointing to learn that a judge has ruled against the Libertarian and Green parties in their attempt to make it easier for third parties to get their candidates on ballots in North Carolina.
Superior Court Judge Robert H. Hobgood ruled last week that citizens don’t have a fundamental right for the party of their choice to be on ballots. He upheld the state’s ballot-access restrictions. In early May, the judge heard the two parties argue the state law regarding the placing of third-party candidates on ballots is unlawful and onerous.
We disagree with the judge’s decision. The more choices voters have, the better off those voters and the state will be.
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 The status also was revoked because Libertarians collected just 25,000 signatures of the 70,000 signatures they needed on a petition to remain an official party.
Before the board’s decision, there were 13,006 registered Libertarians in the state.
Responding to the board’s action, the Libertarians and Green Party filed the lawsuit.
Barbara Howe, chairwoman of the state Libertarian Party, said party officials will have to determine if the party will appeal the judge’s ruling.
She’s right.
More and more voters are becoming disappointed with the Democratic and Republican parties. Those voters are seeking alternatives to voting for Democrats and Republicans. Making it easier for third parties to get their candidates on ballots is something the state should allow.
The Libertarian Party contends North Carolina’s ballot laws are the most-restrictive ballot laws in the nation.
Michael Munger, the party’s nominee for governor of North Carolina, had this to say about those laws: “They’re designed by the Democrats and Republicans to keep independent candidates and third parties off the ballot.”
He’s got a good point.
With Democrats and Republicans holding the great majority of seats in the North Carolina General Assembly, don’t look for them to make it any easier for third-party candidates to get on ballots and challenge them for seats in the Legislature. That being the case, there was some hope the courts would allow for that to happen.
Judge Hobgood’s ruling is a disappointment to many people, but it can be appealed. It should be appealed. The fight to give North Carolina voters more options should be taken to the highest court possible.
There is some good news concerning ballot access. The Libertarian Party is back on the state’s ballots. On May 22, the State Board of Elections formally certified the party.
Voters should support the idea of having more options when it comes to electing people to represent them in the halls of government. Third parties deserve a fair and equitable opportunity to provide those options.