North Carolina Supreme Court set to hear ballot access case

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July 28, 2010

By Kyle Maichle

RALIEGH, North Carolina: The North Carolina Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments to determine if two minor political parties would gain official recognition by state election authorities[1].

The state's highest court will be hearing oral arguments on September 9, 2010, at 9:30 AM EDT. The Libertarian and Green Parties of North Carolina are suing the State Board of Elections over signature requirements for new political parties. Attorneys for the party organizations argue that the requirements are too rigid for minor parties[1].

Under state law, a new political party must have 85,379 signatures in order to be recognized as a major party. The threshold is equivalent to two percent of voters who casted ballots in the last election for Governor[2]. Also, there is a distribution requirement that mandates 200 signatures must be obtained in a minimum four congressional districts[1]. The threshold is the second highest in the nation to only California[3]. Attorneys representing the Greens and Libertarians argue its unconstitutional to not let a party qualify a candidate at the local level if they cannot gain statewide recognition[1].

Attorneys will also argue that the requirements for granting a check-off box on state tax forms are unconstitutional. In order for a party to have a check-off box, their membership must have at least one percent of the state's registered voters. Despite North Carolina Libertarians gained recognition as a major party in 2008, they do not qualify for a check-off box. The state accidentally printed the Libertarian Party on 2008 tax forms. As a result of the error, over $35,000 in contributions had to be returned to the state[1].

The case was first filed by North Carolina Libertarians in 2005 before the Greens joined as a plaintiff. The Green Party of North Carolina has not gained recognition from the State Board of Elections according to Ballot Access News[1].

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