Free the Vote North Carolina has issued a call to action to free HB 794, the Voter Freedom Act of 2013, from the state Senate Rules Committee. They are urging voters to call Rules Committee Chair Sen. Tom Apodaca, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Phil Berger, and the local state Senator on June 10.
“If we don't act soon, the bill will die and we'll have to start all over again in January 2015 to reform North Carolina's highly restrictive ballot access laws,” said Jordon Green, Free the Vote president.
In order to keep HB 794 during the last legislative session, Free the Vote agreed to have the bill converted into a study bill. That effort was successful. The bill passed the House with a overwhelming 109-5 bipartisan vote.
But once it got to the state Senate, it was sent to the rules committee where it has languished ever since.
While the original bill would have dramatically lowered our state's high ballot access barriers, the study bill, if passed, would task the Joint Elections Oversight Committee to look into all the restrictions on ballot access which we addressed in the original bill.
These would include the definition of "political party" in the current law, the nomination process of political parties, specifically smaller political parties, and the requirements for unaffiliated candidates and write-in counties to get on the ballot.
“The oversight committee would undoubtedly hold public hearings, and take testimony from experts,” noted Green. “This would give us a great opportunity to expose the unfair restrictions placed on alternative political parties and independent candidates.”
On June 10, Free the Vote is asking its members and supporters to call Rules Committee Chair Sen. Tom Apodaca at (919) 733-5745 and Senate Majority Leader Sen. Phil Berger at (919) 733-5708, as well as their local Senator.
“Urge them to take action on HB 794 by sending it to the appropriate committee, or to the Senate floor for debate, discussion – and a vote,” Green said.
“Be short, be courteous – but be insistent,” he emphasized. “The main point is to urge them to take action to have the HB 794 Voter Freedom Action released from the Rules Committee.”
Green noted that North Carolina’s current ballot access laws, the second most restrictive in the nation, impose an excessive and unreasonable requirement on new political parties and unaffiliated candidates that’s far and above the standard prevalent in most other states.
Free the Vote also contends that these laws deny citizens their right to vote for candidates of their choice, to run for office, and to exercise their right to freedom of association to form alternative political parties to place candidates on the ballot.
The bill was introduced with bipartisan support, including Republican Reps. Jason Saine and David Lewis, and Democratic Reps. Paul Luebke and Rodney Moore. In addition it has the backing of a broad coalition of political parties and public policy reform groups from across the political spectrum, including all of NC's alternative parties, NC Independents, Democracy NC, and the John Locke Foundation.
For more information go to FreeTheVote.com