Editorial: Expand ballot access

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 21, 2011

Expand ballot access
In North Carolina, a political party seeking ballot access for its candidates currently must obtain signatures equivalent to 2 percent of those who voted in the most recent gubernatorial election ó or upwards of 80,000 signatures. Meanwhile, several other states set the ballot bar at 10,000 signatures, a much more reasonable figure.
Although an appeals court recently denied a Libertarian Party challenge to the N.C. ballot-access law, that isnít necessarily the final vote. The legislature is considering a proposal to make 10,000 signatures the access threshold, returning the state to the standard it used until 1981. While the Libertarian Party proved the 2 percent figure isnít insurmountable when it put gubernatorial candidate Michael Munger on the ballot in 2008, itís an unnecessarily restrictive requirement. Third parties typically lack the financial resources and established political networks necessary for saturation campaigning. The N.C. law is designed to keep things that way.
By lowering the threshold, legislators can expand access while still discouraging frivolous candidates from cluttering up the ballot.