Senate Bill 10, which was introduced Thursday by Sen. Wib Gulley, D-Durham, would make it easier for third-party candidates to appear on presidential election ballots.
Sen. Tony Rand, D-Cumberland, introduced another bill Thursday calling for reform of laws in gubernatorial elections.
The bill calls for the N.C. governor and lieutenant governor to run on the same ticket instead of separately.
State law requires that candidates from political parties that did not receive 10 percent of the vote in the previous election must gather the number of signatures equal to 2 percent of all votes cast in the previous gubernatorial election -- more than 50,000 for the 2000 presidential election.
The new bill calls for that standard to be dropped to 1.5 percent.
Supporters of Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader have complained that these standards are too high.
North Carolina was one of only four states where Nader did not appear on the election ballot.
But Gulley said state officials considered lowering standards for third-party candidates before Nader was excluded from the November ballot.
"In North Carolina I think we've gone too far," Gulley said.
"We have some of the most severe barriers in the nation for people getting on the ballot."
UNC political science Professor Thad Beyle said that expanding ballot rights to third parties -- something many states have been considering -- would be a step in the right direction.
"The reason it takes so many signatures is because the parties want to make sure the other parties don't get on," he said.
But other senators said nothing was wrong with the current standards.
"I don't like (the proposal)," said Sen. Robert Shaw, R-Davidson. "I think the Democrats and Republicans are broad enough in perspective without bringing other parties in."
Shaw recalled that the presence of a third-party candidate, Nader, pulled enough votes from Democratic candidate Al Gore to result in George W. Bush's victory.
"It can be enough votes to destroy a good candidate that the people want elected."
Shaw, the bill's co-sponsor, said the measure would make state government run more smoothly because both officials would have similar political views.
Beyle said a joint ticket for the gubernatorial and lieutenant governor would improve the state's electoral process.
"The real problem is between the governor and lieutenant governor," he said. "This is trying to reduce tension."
Rand said there were two instances in the last 20 years where North Carolina has had a governor from one party and a lieutenant governor from the other.
He said having a joint ticket would make a transition of power easier if the governor were unable to serve his term.
"I have long thought that the national system is a better way of doing things ... to have the governor and lieutenant governor working together."
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