Local News

Political Group Moves to Reform N.C. Campaigns

Posted December 9, 1996 12:00 a.m. EST

— After an election many people cry for campaign reform, but with voter apathy at an all-time low, one group has vowed to do something about the state of political races.

The Better Campaign Commission met for the first time Monday in Research Triangle Park and the 14 member group spent most of the meeting tossing out ideas on improving the political process in North Carolina. The biggest issue, they feel, is how to get voters back to the polls.

The solution to that one might be found in North Carolina's past. Former governors Jim Martin, Terry Sanford, James Holshouser and Robert Scott were among those gathered to talk campaign reform. Scott says he doesn't like what he's heard from the public.

Just over 60 percent of North Carolina's registered voters went to the polls in November. That's the lowest turnout on record. The group suggested such things as shortening the campaign season and toughening campaign finance laws. Jim Goodmon, president of Capitol Broadcasting (WRAL TV5 and WRAL OnLine's parent company), expressed concern about money and power.

The general consensus was that voters are strongly affected by too much negative information, and too little information overall. Voters Jean Merritt, Martin Walston and Gary Marechek all have bad memories of negative ads.

Voters also say they are unhappy about the dispute over redistricting. The bi-partisan Better Campaigns Commission wants to find out what bothers voters, and then address those issues. The group plans to make suggestions to the legislature about how laws could be changed.

They plan to meet again next Tuesday.