On April 1, several North Carolina Representatives introduced HB 509, which improves ballot access for newly-qualifying parties and independent candidates. Current law for new parties and statewide independents requires a petition of 2% of the last gubernatorial vote, which is now 89,366 signatures. The bill changes those petitions to one-fourth of 1% of the last gubernatorial vote, which would be 11,171.
For district petitions for independent candidates, the existing requirement is 4% of the number of registered voters, which is so severe, no independent has ever qualified for U.S. House for a government-printed ballot in North Carolina history. The bill changes those petitions to one-fourth of 1% of the number of registered voters.
The bill also eases the petition deadline for independent candidates from June to the third Friday in July, although the actual deadline for the petitions to be turned into the counties would be several weeks earlier.
North Carolina required 10,000 signatures for newly-qualifying parties from 1929 thru 1981, and never had a crowded ballot. North Carolina has never had a statewide independent candidate on the ballot except for Ross Perot in 1992. When John Anderson ran for president as an independent in 1980, he organized the Independent Party in North Carolina and became its nominee. If one looks in the 1980 election returns, one sees Anderson listed as “Independent Party”, but it would be easy for someone to think he actually had qualified as an independent candidate. He didn’t do the independent petition because it was 10% back then, far harder than the new party petition. Not counting Anderson’s “Independent Party”, North Carolina has never had more than five parties on the ballot, even in the years when it only required 10,000 signatures. Thanks to Kevin Hayes for the news.