Seat belts, guns, inspections, taxes, picking flowers, picking up rocks or choosing whom we want to represent us — we North Carolinians find ourselves in the precarious situation of being managed.
Real liberty is a person's right to choose but, more and more, the door of choice is being swindled right from beneath our fingertips by legislators who sneak in the back door and change the locks to the front.
Perhaps the most egregious thievery is that which consistently occurs in the election process.
Our state recently made headlines when the small, sleepy town of Kinston sought to do away with partisan elections, and the U.S. Dept. of Justice condemned the action as illegal.
The DOJ denied Kinston's request, claiming it created an unfair election environment for black candidates even though Kinston is two-thirds African American, a decision that has inflamed North Carolinian voters from the Appalachian Trail to the Outer Banks.
North Carolina currently has the third most restrictive ballot access in the nation.
For years, North Carolinians have been fighting for fair and equal access to the ballot so that ordinary citizens can participate in the electoral process. More choice on the ballot increases citizen interest and motivates voter turnout too.
North Carolina has gone under the legislative knife more than once to address the election issue. Current legislation prescribes numerous pills that are difficult to be swallowed by would-be candidates and voters in general.
Candidates must deplete nearly all their funds and energy getting an outrageous number of signatures in order to be placed on the ballot. It's like asking a long-distance runner to stay awake all night before a marathon; he comes into the game already exhausted and highly unlikely to win.
In 2009, Sen. Jim Jacumin sponsored the Electoral Freedom Act of 2009, which would have lowered the signature requirements for new political parties and would have provided unaffiliated candidates access to the election ballot. The bill failed to leave committee by the crossover deadline, and thus died in committee.
The Electoral Freedom Act of 2011 is a bill that the North Carolinians for Free and Proper Election is proposing. This legislation would reduce to 10,000 the number of signatures needed for ballot access for new political parties; reduce to 5,000 the number of signatures for unaffiliated statewide candidates; reduce to 0.25 percent the percentage-based signature requirement for unaffiliated candidates for district, county and municipal offices; and eliminate the need for write-in candidates to obtain signatures for ballot access.
As a candidate for the N.C. 47th District State Senate, I fully support this bill and pledge to work tirelessly with other sponsors in promoting a truly free election process.
Simply put, it is absolutely necessary that North Carolina's restrictive ballot access laws be eradicated in favor of legislation that promotes healthy competition in the electoral process and provides more opportunity for all North Carolinians to run, and better choices for all of us at the polls.
— Tamera S. Frank