Grassroots activists hold “Honor the Oath” Rally in Raleigh

by Jordon Greene | Indie Register

On Wednesday afternoon, North Carolina’s state legislators met in Raleigh, NC to open the 2013-2014 Session of the North Carolina General Assembly and to take their Oath of Office to start their new terms. At the same time, nearly two hundred grassroots activists gathered at Halifax Mall behind the Legislative Building to remind the legislators of the importance of their Oath of Office.

Many North Carolinians are fed up with the disregard they feel their legislators have for both the United States and North Carolina State Constitutions. According to Nicole Revels, one of the organizers of Glen Bradley’s “Honor the Oath” Rally, the event was staged “as a result of Glen Bradley’s rally call.” Revels stated that the rally was meant primarily to “send a message to the NC General Assembly that the people of North Carolina didn’t go anywhere after the election and will be watching their votes this session to ensure that they honor their oaths to uphold the Constitution.”

Read Full Article: Grassroots activists hold “Honor the Oath” Rally in Raleigh | Indie Register

Is Competition Off-Limits in North Carolina Elections?

By Jordon Greene | Free the Vote NC, President & Founder

On Election Day, the typical thought is that most voters think exclusively in terms of Republicans and Democrats. The good guys versus the bad guys as they would have it, no specific order intended. However, is it possible that every one of our nation’s 130 million voters or North Carolina’s 6 million voters see exclusively in these terms?

When you consider that over 25% of our state’s registered voters consider themselves or choose to be unaffiliated, it speaks volumes to the fact that not everyone is comfortable with being represented by the Republican and Democratic Parties regardless of how they may vote on election day. However, as several groups can attest, not all voices are welcomed with open arms in our state’s political discourse.

Just asks members of the Green and Constitution Parties whose party of choice is regularly denied access to our state’s election ballot by North Carolina’s ballot access laws. You may talk to members of newer political parties like the Modern Whig Party or individuals who have tried and failed to get on the election ballot as Unaffiliated (or Independent) candidate for different offices over the years. You could even ask members of the Libertarian Party, the only alternative party currently appearing on the ballot, because of the massive costs these laws have put on their party.

Kevin Hayes, a member of the Constitution Party of North Carolina’s State Executive Committee, said, “Minor parties or independents have to spend literally hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire petitioners just to get on the ballot and the split the vote myth kills petition efforts.” Kevin went on to state that due to the sheer amount of funds that alternative political parties and unaffiliated candidates have to expend for ballot access in relation to their already strained budgets that North Carolina’s ballot access laws “make it nearly impossible to compete even if a party gained ballot access.”

Alternative political parties that do manage to overcome North Carolina’s ballot regulations must work to maintain that access by obtaining at least two percent of the vote for either their candidate for Governor or President in the previous election. So just getting on the ballot is only the first step. If a party’s candidate does not obtain the required vote threshold they are then disqualified and forced to start the process over again. The Libertarians in North Carolina were put through this cycle election after election for nearly sixteen years until they managed to overcome the threshold in 2008 when their gubernatorial candidate, Dr. Mike Munger, a professor of political science at Duke University, obtained just over two percent of the vote.

While alternative parties have to cope with our state’s ballot laws, individuals who want to appear on the ballot as independent, or unaffiliated, candidates must go through the similar rigors of ballot access. Some candidates arguably have to do more when you consider the requirements for district offices covering only portions of the state. Brad Smith, a 2010 US Congressional candidate, and Bryan Greene, a 2008 US Congressional candidate, sought to provide the voters of the fifth and tenth districts, respectively, with an alternative to the major party candidates. However, neither candidate made it on the ballot, as neither could overcome what organizations such as Free the Vote North Carolina and ballot access expert Richard Winger say are possibly the nation’s most restrictive ballot access requirements for US Congressional candidates.

Mr. Smith said, “The current laws are completely unreasonable. For federal seats unless a person is willing to pay professional signature gatherers there is no way to meet their threshold.” Referring to the state’s legitimate interest in managing the ballot he mentioned that “[a] certain amount of due diligence is necessary but the State has gone far beyond that.”

Smith went on to state the “…problem is that ballot access is denied except for the rich …the shear amount of work involved day after day was tough, especially while working full time,” making grassroots candidacies burn out before they have a chance to get on the ballot.

Academics in North Carolina have also offered criticisms of our state’s ballot laws. In a statement published by the Free the Vote Coalition, Dr. Georg Vanberg, an Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of Graduate Studies of the Political Science Department at UNC Chapel Hill stated that, “Vigorous political competition is critical to the quality of democracy.” He continued that “Only where established politicians and parties must contend with the potential for new parties and candidates to enter the political fray, and provide citizens with meaningful alternatives, can parties and politicians be held accountable to the will of the people.”

Duke University Professor of Political Science, Dr. Michael Gillespie said that, with less onerous ballot access laws, “Faced with greater competition for electoral support among their core constituencies, the major parties would be forced to be more responsive to voters and thus more democratic.”

On the other hand, the state argues that North Carolina has a legitimate interest in limited access to the election ballot. They cite issues such as voter confusion, long ballots and even administrative issues that they claim give the state the authority to trump the right to vote. However, this is in contravention an early United States Supreme Court ruling where the court said, “[n]o right is more precious… [than] the right to vote” in Williams v. Rhodes in 1968.

North Carolina State Representative Glen Bradley of Franklin, a Republican and sponsor of ballot access reform legislation in the 2011-2012 Session of the NC General Assembly said, “The purpose of regulating ballot access ought to be mostly if not solely to determine sincerity from fraud, and to stop the fraud.”

“Bringing North Carolina into compliance with most of the United States’ ballot access laws will not lead to ballot confusion, but to a more open marketplace of ideas, which the leadership of neither party really wants,” says Bradley in regards to North Carolina’s current ballot laws. “The state, being comprised of elected partisans, should on principle have no control over the parties that compose it. It is a direct conflict of interest. Like say the Widgetcorp Inc, CEO is elected Governor and gives his own company massive contracts and benefits; but instead of money we have allowed the parties to do this to our ballot.”

While the perfect legal requirement for ballot access may yet to have been seen, studies have shown that requirements like North Carolina’s 2% requirement for new political parties and 4% requirement for district level unaffiliated candidates are all too often nothing less than major-party only rules. Dr. Barry C. Burden, Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said in a 2003 study entitled Ballot Regulations and Multiparty Politics in the States that “a requirement as high as 2% of the electorate would effectively eliminate all competition aside from the Democrats and Republicans.”

In consideration of the rights in danger and the effects on self-government of North Carolina’s ballot access laws it is apparent that there is an actual need for reform to allow free choice on the election ballot to restore legitimate and responsive government in our state.

You can learn more about this issue and take action at Free the Vote North Carolina, www.FreetheVoteNC.com

North Carolina’s Pre-Obamacare Insurance Mandate

by Jordon Greene | For Liberty’s Sake Commentary

For the first time in United States history, on January 1, 2014, our nation will force U.S. citizens to make a choice between enrolling in an insurance plan from a private insurance company or paying a hefty penalty (an extra tax). This, and much more, is due to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010. This individual mandate to purchase a private product (health insurance), a new extra-constitutional overreach of government power, has met widespread opposition especially by those championing the free-market and the principles of individual liberty. The outrage among conservatives and libertarians over the PPACA (informally called Obamacare) continues to this day.

The NC General Assembly even passed the Protect Healthcare Freedom Act in an attempt to protect North Carolinians against an individual mandate to purchase insurance, an act that was just short of nullification. The resolution eventually failed after Governor Beverly Perdue vetoed the measure, and the Assembly was never able to override the veto, leaving North Carolinians with no real protection against Obamacare.

However, would it surprise you to know that just over half a year before the US Congress passed Obamacare and the Act was signed into law, that North Carolina had enacted its own form of Obamacare on a smaller scale? In August of 2009, the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors, on the recommendation of President Erskine Bowles, approved the implementation of a “hard waiver” insurance requirement for all students at every UNC system school effective fall semester 2010.

Just like Obamacare, the UNC insurance requirement mandates that students enrolled in a UNC system school either must enroll in an acceptable insurance plan from a private company or be forced to enroll in and pay for a UNC endorsed insurance plan. The major difference being that instead of simply placing a penalty through a tax as Obamacare does the UNC insurance mandate forces the student to purchase an approved insurance plan from a private insurance provider or drop out of school.

Had this been the doing of a private university or college it would simply be up to the student to choose whether to attend that particular university. However, this is a mandate put in place by the Board of Governors of the UNC system; North Carolina’s publicly funded university system, an entity of the government. Those with limited-constitutional, tea party or libertarian frames of view will agree that the government has no legitimate authority to force individuals, in this case public university students, to purchase a private product.

The UNC system tries to justify this unconstitutional and anti-liberty mandate by making statements such as the one found on UNC Chapel Hill’s Mandatory Insurance FAQs page, “Unexpected health care expenses such as those associated with illness, accidents, or mental health care can destabilize a student’s financial situation and derail his or her progress toward a degree.” However, it is not the responsibility of government to ensure that individuals make good personal decisions. Individuals are responsible for the consequences of their own actions or inactions, not government.

It is time that all of North Carolina knows that the UNC Board of Governor’s is forcing UNC students to either fork out payment for insurance one way or the other or drop out of school and forfeit their education. It is of note to mention that at the inception of the insurance mandate in August of 2010 the premiums were roughly a minimum of $360 a semester (or $720 a year) but only two school years later the premiums have nearly doubled to exactly $709 a semester (or $1,418 a year). For those who may not be able to afford insurance or have other issues that prevent them from obtaining a more affordable plan, UNC’s mandated plan requires the student pay a hefty price regardless of whether they are financially able if they wish to stay in school, adding yet another financial burden to some students.

If you oppose Obamacare, be sure to let the candidates for office in North Carolina know that you are outraged that the UNC Board of Governors have basically given North Carolina public university students an ultimatum to get insured or forget their education. Let’s work to repeal Obamacare, but let’s not forget North Carolina’s own public university students while we are at it. Repeal the UNC Insurance Mandate!

Show your support by liking the End the UNC Insurance Mandate page on Facebook here.
 

Read Full Article: North Carolina’s Pre-Obamacare Insurance Mandate | For Liberty’s Sake Commentary