Raleigh, N.C. — Representatives of three smaller political parties are calling on state lawmakers to make it easier for them to put their candidates on the ballot in North Carolina.
Spokespeople for the state’s Libertarian, Green and Socialist parties said at an event Tuesday that the state has the most restrictive ballot access laws in the country.
The only three parties officially recognized in North Carolina elections are Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians. Any other party, or anyone who wishes to run as an independent, must gather about 90,000 signatures to get on the ballot for a statewide or presidential race.
Jill Stein, the 2012 Green Party presidential nominee, appeared at the event as part of her 2016 campaign, which will include a petition drive for ballot access.
“One out of every two Americans no longer identifies as a Democrat or a Republican,” Stein said. “The American people are clamoring for more voices and more choices. Yet, this very oppressive and outdated restrictive ballot access system here in North Carolina is really an embarrassment for suppressing that large body of the American public that’s clamoring for something different.”
Stein said third parties generally don't even bother with North Carolina because the state's laws are so tight. Libertarian state Vice Chairman Brian Irving said his party gained official recognition only after a difficult, decades-long effort.
“People are fed up with the Democrat and Republican duopoly,” Irving said. “The two parties have basically worked together to keep any other voice off the ballot."
“Democracy isn’t having two choices,” said Stephanie Cholsensky with the North Carolina Socialist Party, noting that even write-in candidates in North Carolina are required to submit 500 signatures in advance. “It’s not fair to the people of North Carolina.”
Legislation that would ease ballot requirements has been filed in most recent legislative sessions with bipartisan sponsorship, but those bills have gone nowhere.