News: Quick Takes

Libertarians, third parties can’t nominate members to local election boards

The Libertarian Party of North Carolina tried to nominate members to the county elections boards, but were told it was against the law.

Susan Hogarth, N.C. Libertarian Party chair, said the party is considering all of its options, but a legal challenge is unlikely.

“We just don’t have the resources to litigate this,” Hogarth said.

Session Law 2018-145, a technical correction bill passed at the end of last year’s special session, contains a provision preventing third parties from nominating members to county election boards. The law says for each county board of elections, the state board shall appoint two members each belonging to the two political parties with the highest number of registered affiliates.

County boards of elections consist of five members. The N.C. State Board of Elections appoints four members, and the governor appoints the fifth member to serve as the chair of the county board. None of those members are likely to be affiliated with a third party, or even unaffiliated.

“Libertarians still hold that this law unfairly discriminates against alternative parties, and especially unaffiliated voters, who represent nearly one-third of voters,” Brian Irving, the press secretary of the Libertarian Party of Wake County, said in a news release.

The N.C. Libertarian party spent thousands just to get ballot access, something that’s granted automatically for the Republican and Democratic parties. A 2017 law made it easier for third parties to gain ballot access, but it can still require substantive resources to obtain.

Voter registration data from the NCSBE shows the Democratic Party has 2,460,876 registered voters. “Unaffiliated” has 2,089,626 registered voters; Republicans have 1,982,918. The Libertarian party has 36,010 registered voters.

Hogarth said third parties and the unaffiliated should be able to participate in government, along with the two major parties.

“Parties were not part of the government, they were part of politics,” Hogarth said. “Now parties are baked into the system.”