As of 1983, in order for a political group to become a recognized party, it must have received two percent of the vote in the previous gubernatorial election, or the equivalent number of signatures. For this year, that would mean a political group must receive 89,336 signatures — only California requires a higher number of signatures.
Brian Irving, the vice chairperson of the North Carolina Libertarian Party, said the Libertarian Party has worked in the past with the Green Party and other groups to undo the ballot access law.
“Rather than doing it piecemeal, we challenged basically the entire concept of the way North Carolina requires political parties to handle the petitioning, getting on the ballot, staying on the ballot, the whole thing,” he said.
He said after the court ruled in favor of the state, the Libertarian Party has taken a legislative approach to the issue by finding sponsors in each General Assembly session for the Voter Freedom Act of 2015, which would decrease the required votes for recognition from two to .25 percent.
Irving said the Libertarian Party has adopted the strategy of focusing on gubernatorial elections to counteract the ballot access requirements in the meantime.
“The key race for us is the governor’s race,” he said. “We need two percent of the vote to maintain ballot status so that’s probably the race we promote the most.”
Currently, the N.C. Libertarian party has two candidates running for local offices, 14 for General Assembly seats, one for governor and lieutenant governor and one for Richard Burr’s senate seat in addition to their presidential ticket. The N.C. Green Party is only running a presidential ticket.
Turner said part of the issue is a lack of visibility for the Green Party — which he believes would change once it was an officially recognized party.
“The Libertarians, with ballot access, they’ve seen their membership increase by an order of magnitude,” he said. “(Party registered voters) take a leap once there is access to the ballot.”