Thursday is the International Day of Democracy. It’s a United Nations-sponsored day and many media outlets are highlighting stories of threats to democracy and scrutinizing laws and proposals around the country. As part of this effort, WFAE is focusing on North Carolina’s law regarding access to third-party ballots and unaffiliated candidates, and how they compare to other states.
One of the big controversies of this election year was the Green Party’s attempt to win the US Senate race from North Carolina. The state election board initially denied access to the party’s ballot, even though it had enough certified signatures to qualify. He made the decision in a partisan vote following efforts by Democrats to stop the Greens from voting. The council changed course, but the state’s Democrats sued to stop the Greens. That lawsuit was dropped and the Greens were on the ballot.
To learn more, Field Marshal Terry of WFAE spoke with Richard Winger. He has followed ballot access legislation nationwide since 1985 as editor and founder of Ballot Access News.
Marshall Terry: So requests to access third-party ballots are a source of frustration for groups like the Greens and the Liberals. However, I understand that North Carolina’s laws are less restrictive than most states. Is that the case?
Richard Winger: It’s slightly better than average. North Carolina has an amazing history of going back and forth between being extremely hostile at small parties or turning away and being friendly. That is an amazing story.
Terry: Getting the third party on the ballot today requires more than 13,000 signatures. How does it compare to other states, if North Carolina is a little more tolerant than other states, as you say? What is it like in other states?
Winger: Well, the average was about a third of the final 1% of votes. And since North Carolina got a quarter of the vote that ended up taking a quarter, party-friendly North Carolina is a bit smaller than the typical state.
Terry: Which state do you think has the worst third-party registration laws?
Winger: There is no comparison. The worst ballot access law in the United States is in Georgia. The law is crazy, but for district offices, including the U.S. House of Representatives, it is so harsh that no minor party or independent candidate has been in Georgia’s vote for the House since. The law was passed in 19
Terry: What do you think about what happened in North Carolina this year with the Green Party?
Winger: I have to say that the Democrats are wrong when they automatically assume that having the Greens on the ballot or any leftist candidate will automatically hurt them. There is a lot of objective evidence that this is not true.
First, it’s bad for the image of the Democratic Party, which presents itself as a pro-suffrage party, trying everywhere to interfere with the voting rights of those who want to vote for parties. small.
And, I’ll just cite one example. 19 8 was the year Harry Truman ran for re-election against Thomas Dewey. And everyone thought Thomas Dewey, the Republican, would win, especially when former USay Vice President Henry Wallace ran as the third-party presidential candidate.
But Sam Lubell, a very good pollster who later became a famous political scientist, studied this election very closely, and he discovered that Henry Wallace was helping Truman.
He discovered that two million people, mostly Catholic Democrats, voted Republican in 19
because they were staunchly anti-Communist. And, in 19, the Communist Political Association approved Franklin Roosevelt’s re-election. But in 19 8, these voters realized that the Communist Party was brutally attacking Harry Truman and finishing off Henry Wallace.
So while Harry Truman could arguably have lost a million votes during Henry Wallace’s campaign, he gained two million voters who felt comfortable returning to the Democratic Party.
Terry: Well, let’s get back to the unaffiliated candidates for a moment. Is it hard for them to get elected in North Carolina?
Winger: It’s hard. In the entire history of government-printed ballots in North Carolina, there has never been an independent candidate for governor. There has never been an independent candidate for the US Senate. There has never been an independent candidate on the ballot for the United States House of Representatives in North Carolina. That’s just way too many signatures.
The paradox is that legislators require more signatures for independent candidates than for minor parties, which makes no sense.
Terry: How many signatures?
Winger: Statewide independent petition representing one and a half percent of registered voters. And for the United States House, it’s also 1/2%. But for the legislature, it is
%. It is therefore rare for an independent candidate for the Legislature to succeed in North Carolina, although a few do. So right now, as you said, about 13,000 signatures for a small party statewide, but about 60,000 signatures for an independent party statewide.
Terry: How does this compare to other states when it comes to non-affiliated applicants? Is it, I guess, not as hard as it is in some other states?
Winger: Oh, it was one of the worst games in the country. If we talk about statewide independent candidates, not president and president they are usually easier than only states that are harder than North Carolina in the percentage of independent candidates are Alabama and Wyoming.
Terry: You’ve been following these questions for ballot access news since 1985. You’re 79 years old now. I’m curious – why are you so engrossed in this issue?
Winger: Well, it goes back to before 1985, when I was in college. I became very interested in the Access to Ballot Act because I was interested in researching election reports for third parties. And, I think it is
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