N.C. Libertarians secured their spot on statewide ballots -- at least through 2004 -- after they finished collecting more than 59,000 petition signatures last week.
State law requires political parties that did not receive at least 10 percent of the popular vote during the most recent gubernatorial election to submit a petition to the N.C. Board of Elections containing signatures of at least 2 percent of the number of people who voted in that race -- 58,842 signatures in this case.
Barbara Howe, chairwoman of the N.C. Libertarian Party and last year's Libertarian gubernatorial candidate, said the state's severe standards inhibit third-party candidacies because of the high costs they incur and the time they consume.
She said the state-mandated petition drive cost the party more than $100,000, -- money that could have been spent campaigning.
"People's resources are limited, they can only give so much," she said. "If they give to the petition drive, they may not be able to give during the election."
Howe said volunteers collected about half of the signatures, with professional petitioners collecting the rest. She added that most of the $100,000 cost the party incurred was from hiring people to collect the signatures.