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Rep. Saine files Voter Freedom Act of 2013

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Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincolnton) introduced House Bill 794 Voter Freedom Act of 2013 today to dramatically lower the ballot access barrier for new political parties and unaffiliated candidates.

House Bill 794 has bipartisan sponsors, Representatives Paul Luebke (D-Durham), David Lewis (R-Dunn), and Rodney Moore (D-Mecklenberg). A broad and diverse coalition of political parties and public policy groups from across the political spectrum also backs the bill.

The Voter Freedom Act of 2013 would reduce the number of signatures a new political party must collect to qualify for the ballot from nearly 90,000 to about 11,000. The bill would also make it easier for new parties to retain ballot access, by reducing the number of votes they must get to about 11,000 votes.

The lower signature requirement would also apply to unaffiliated (independent) candidates seeking to run for state-wide office. In addition, the bill would reduce the signature collection requirements for unaffiliated candidates running for Congress, the General Assembly and local office.

“We realize there have been dozens of election law bills introduced during  this session,” said Jordon Greene, Free the Vote president and founder. “Other election issues, including voter ID, straight-party voting, partisan judicial elections, and campaign financing, may be important, but we believe the Voter Freedom Act of 2013 goes to the heart of the matter.”

“If the state can arbitrarily exclude candidates from the ballot as it does now, the whole voting process is undermined,” he said.

“The right to vote is not truly complete where free choice does not exist, as is the case in North Carolina,” he observed. “Any other election law reform begins with the right to vote, because the right to vote is the right by which all other rights are protected.”

The bill was drafted by Free the Vote North Carolina, a ballot access reform group. Free the Vote North Carolina has once again formed the Free the Vote Coalition in support of the bill.

Coalition members are, the Libertarian, Green, Constitution, Conservative, Christian, Reform and Modern Whig parties, as well as Democracy NC, the John Locke Foundation, N.C. Common Cause, the N.C. Center for Voter Education, the N.C. Campaign for Liberty, the Carolina Liberty PAC, and N.C. Independents.

Here is a summary of HB 794 Voter Freedom Act of 2013:

1. Reduce the number of signatures a new political party must collect to get on the ballot from nearly 90,000 signatures to about 11,000 signatures. Specifically, the bill changes the current statutory requirements from a number of signatures equal to two percent to one-quarter of one percent of the vote for governor or president in the last general election. It also changes the filing date for petitions to the third Friday in July.

2. Reduce the number of votes a new political party must get in order to retain ballot status from nearly 90,000 votes to about 11,000 votes. Specifically, the bill changes the current statutory requirements from two percent of the vote for governor or president in the last general election to one-quarter of one percent of the vote for governor or president.

3. Reduce the number of signatures an unaffiliated (independent) candidate for state-wide office must collect to qualify for the ballot from nearly 90,000 to about 11,000. Specifically, the bill would change the current statutory requirements from a number of signatures equal to two percent to one-quarter of one percent of the vote for that office in the last general election. It also changes the filing date for petitions to the third Friday in July.

4. Reduce the number of signatures an unaffiliated candidate for district and local office (municipality, county, General Assembly, Congress) must collect to qualify for the ballot from four percent to one percent of the registered voters in the constituency.

5. Allow political parties with ten percent or less of registered voters recognized by the state to opt out of the primary system and nominate candidates in convention.

6. Allow individuals to have the votes for them counted as a write-in candidate for any partisan office by simply filing a declaration of intent with the appropriate board of elections.

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