Free and Proper Elections

NCFPE Poltical Blog and News Tracker

Free and Proper Elections - NCFPE Poltical Blog and News Tracker

North Carolinians for Free and Proper Elections

Welcome to the North Carolinians for Free and Proper Elections Political Action Committee. There are two questions that we would like you and every other citizen of the great Tar Heel state of North Carolina to ask themselves. First, is the right to vote your conscience one of the citizens’ most basic rights inherent in our Republican form of government? Second, can any level of government rightfully abridge or deny it’s citizens the right to vote specifically based on political affiliation?

As a grass-roots group of concerned citizens in North Carolina, we feel that the answer is obvious. We believe that the right to vote one’s conscience is a valuable and inherent right that our servicemen and women have died to protect over the past two and one half centuries; the right to choose who represents you. So, in return, we strongly believe that that no level of government has any authority to abridge the citizen’s right to vote based on political affiliation. Yet, that is exactly what has continued to happen for over one hundred years now by our state’s policy makers.

In 1901, the state of North Carolina enacted the first ballot access law, along with the implementation of the state printed ballot (called the Australian Ballot). This first ballot access law was simply the definition of a political party recognized by the state. Yet, North Carolina started off with a bang, requiring parties to have garnered at least 50,000 votes in the 1900 General Election to remain a ballot-recognized party in the state, automatically establishing a Republican-Democratic duopoly from the beginning of the state-printed ballot.

Now, over 100 years after the implementation of the state-regulated ballot, North Carolina has revised its laws regulating who can and cannot get on the ballot numerous times and still we do not truly have free elections as required by the North Carolina State Constitution which reads in Article I Section 10: “All elections shall be free.” We ask ourselves why our representatives do not represent us, why they promise one thing on the campaign trail and then deliver nothing in office, why can we not trust them. We at the North Carolinians for Free and Proper Elections, believe that it is a result of the unfair and restrictive ballot access laws which nearly ensure that only the two major parties have an equal chance on election day by making it nearly impossible to gain access to the ballot, allowing the two major parties to run unopposed by third party or unaffiliated candidates in most elections.

What people forget, and neglect to understand, is that in pre-1900 America, elections where generally free and equal; third political parties had a chance and they undertook important, meaningful roles in early-American politics. They served as agents of change and progress, ensuring that issues such as women’s suffrage and the abolishment of slavery were on the table, whereas the two major parties would have otherwise failed to act. Yet, since those grand old days when the citizens and political parties printed the ballots themselves and were able to vote their conscience, things have changed, but regretfully, not for the better.

Please help us to spread the word across the state of North Carolina about these unconstitutional statutes which deprive the citizens of their basic right to vote. The North Carolina citizen needs to be made aware of the problem of ballot access restrictions that have plagued freedom, and real political progress since 1901. We encourage everyone to look around the website, learn more about the ballot issue, and see what you can do to make North Carolina free again. For without freedom we are but pawns and slaves to government, and without the right to vote there is no freedom, just a privilege with the illusion of freedom.

The North Carolinians for Free and Proper Elections is a Political Action Committee which will work to:

-Educate the people of North Carolina about the state’s unconstitutional and burdensome restrictions on third political parties and unaffiliated candidates.

-Push for change and progress in the North Carolina General Assembly and US Congress to free the ballot and level the playing field for all candidates.

-Inform the people of where their candidates for elected office stand on the ballot issue.

A brief lesson on the reality of immigration and the lives of immigrants in North Carolina

Immigration is one of the most contentious issues of our time. Debates on the matter — both generally and with respect to the specifics of various proposals surrounding it — are pervasive in homes, schools, workplaces, television and social media. Given this backdrop, I probably should not have been surprised when I received an email recently (see below) that was purportedly from a North Carolina fifth grader. But I was. And I was sad to see unauthorized immigrants painted in such negative light – even by such a youngster.

Loretta Lynch and HB2: U.S. Attorney General teaches fellow North Carolinians about compassion and tolerance

Take heart, fair-minded North Carolinians. The state’s not-always-pristine but still vaguely operative image as a place where “the weak grow strong and the strong grow great” is in the process of being dragged through the mud by cynics who prefer to kick people while they’re down. But then, we come across the shining example of a Tar Heel whose impulse is to extend a helping hand – and who has the clout to do it. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, born in Greensboro and raised in Durham, crisply articulated principles that are driving the backlash to the law known as House Bill 2 – the notorious “bathroom bill.” Yes, problems with the law are many-layered and complex. But Lynch boiled them down to terms that invoke, or should invoke, our common humanity. “You’ve been told that this law protects vulnerable populations from harm,” she told a Washington audience as she explained a push by her Department of Justice to have H.B. 2 declared in violation of the federal Civil Rights Act. “Instead, what this law does is inflict further indignity on a population that has already suffered far more than its fair share. This law provides no benefit to society – all it does is harm innocent Americans.” Lynch, who at this writing is about to turn 57, would have been spared the full extent of the cruelties visited upon African-Americans in the segregated South prior to the civil rights gains of the 1960s. But her upbringing and family background immersed her in the ongoing struggle for equal treatment before the law. At Durham High School, bound for Harvard, she excelled in an environment where black students often faced long odds. Her father, the Rev. Lorenzo Lynch, originally from the Martin County community of Oak City, served for many years as pastor of White Rock Baptist Church in Durham, a cornerstone of the city’s civil rights activism. A grandfather, also a pastor, is said to have helped rural black neighbors deal with the oppression of the Jim Crow years. It’s not hard to understand, then, why Lynch is championing the rights of another minority whom those in power have found it expedient to gang up on. And if the challenges facing those few of our neighbors who have made the hard choice to change from their birth-assigned gender are ones that most of us have just recently begun to consider and appreciate, that only highlights the scale of Lynch’s moral leadership. Gender assignments H.B. 2 is in fact a multi-headed monster of discrimination, with anyone outside the heterosexual mainstream among its victims. But its rule for bathroom usage in public buildings by transgendered persons – the rule trumpeted by advocates as the law’s backbone, and as a commonsense nod to concerns about privacy and safety – is especially needless and hurtful. Under the law, someone who changes his or her gender – certainly not a decision anyone would ever make on a whim or without having experienced depths of anguish – cannot use a multiple occupancy bathroom matching the person’s gender identity. Instead, that person must use a bathroom or locker room matching the sex denoted on his or her birth certificate. That’s unless the birth certificate has been updated to reflect the gender switch – typically allowed only after a person has undergone expensive and complicated surgery. The ludicrous scenarios flowing from such a rule have been well hashed over. But as a reminder: What about the transgendered female, born male but looking for all the world like a woman, who is consigned to the men’s room? Or the person whose identity and appearance are strictly male but who has to use the women’s room because he – pronoun chosen advisedly – was born a girl? How would these strictures be enforced? Think of the confusion, the disruption, the alarm. Indeed, the federal Justice and Education Departments, mindful that the North Carolina controversy is reverberating nationwide, were preparing on May 13 to advise all public school districts that transgendered students are entitled to use school bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. The guidance was to include suggestions for privacy protection — steps that are by no means rocket science and that any school district operating in good faith should be able to follow. Lynch’s Department of Justice had staked out its opposition to North Carolina’s new law in a court filing on May 9. It acted only after warning state leaders that H.B. 2, in the department’s view, violated sections of the 1964 Civil Rights Act dealing with discrimination in employment and in education. In response to that warning, Gov. Pat McCrory and his fellow Republicans who control the state House and Senate separately asked federal judges to give the law a green light. The law’s backers say 1) that they want to spare the state’s females from the scourge of “men” in their bathrooms and locker rooms, where they might do who knows what, and 2) that gender identity in any case is not a category entitled to anti-discrimination protections under federal law. McCrory’s court filing is actually quite restrained, taking a stand in defense of state employees’ “bodily privacy” and against what he describes as federal overreach. The governor asserts – missing the point — that no employees under his purview are being discriminated against, because everyone must use a bathroom corresponding to their biological sex as shown on their birth certificate. He also says H.B. 2 gives him the leeway to make special arrangements for the transgendered. By contrast, the filing by House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger is full of lurid shower scenarios and states’ rights rhetoric even bringing to mind, for those of a historical bent, John C. Calhoun’s wild-eyed theories that helped set the stage for the Civil War by priming the South for secession. And the late U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms would have been right there with ’em. State prerogatives? In a sense, Moore and Berger may be shifting to more comfortable ground in staking their H.B. 2 defense on principles of federalism, by which the states get to call many of their own shots. That helps take the focus off the somewhat unseemly bathroom debate and beyond that off the law’s spiking of a whole range of anti-discrimination safeguards. For example, municipalities are barred under the law from enacting such safeguards to benefit gay and lesbian people. It was Charlotte’s attempt to do just that, as well as to ensure reasonable, humane bathroom rules for the transgendered, that convinced Moore and Berger to hold a one-day special legislative session on March 23. H.B. 2, signed by the governor before the ink was dry, was the bitter fruit. It’s been speculated, and there’s no solid reason to disagree, that top Republicans saw the now-superseded Charlotte ordinance as a cause around which to rally the social and religious conservatives who make up a key portion of their electoral base. McCrory, the former Charlotte mayor and erstwhile moderate, may have looked forward to riding that wave in his ongoing bid for a second term. Or he may simply have been swept along. What’s unfortunate, although perhaps not surprising, is the degree to which public tolerance for the transgendered has lagged the evolving scientific grasp of gender identity’s complex nature. It turns out that gender reflects much more than superficial anatomy. Because of those other factors – hormonal, even the wiring of the brain – it appears to be entirely plausible that someone with male or female “equipment” can think of himself or herself as a person of the opposite sex, can manifest that identity in their daily lives and indeed can be miserable if not allowed to do so. In that case, then those for whom human rights and dignity are paramount concerns – count the Council of Churches among them – are led to conclude that a transgender person’s identity represents something at the core of that person’s existence, and that it should not be challenged, ridiculed or subjected to humiliation. Not a problem So let the legal arguments rage as to whether the transgendered are entitled to protection under the Civil Rights Act, or whether the Department of Justice has followed righteous indignation out the window in an unconstitutional assault on state sovereignty. The fact remains that the legislature and McCrory were under no compulsion to enact H.B. 2, declaring in effect that the transgendered have no gender-specific rights that so-called normal people are bound to respect. Instead, they came up with a warped solution to a problem that in the real world scarcely exists, if it exists at all. Transgendered folks have been around for a long time, in one fashion or another, using the public bathrooms in which they logically feel comfortable, and other visitors to those bathrooms have taken it in stride with no noticeable threat to either privacy or safety. But H.B. 2’s authors have sought to stoke those fears, even seeming to take cues from the old-time white supremacists who benefited by conjuring the risks to white womanhood allegedly posed by black sexual predators. That was an outrageously cynical and slanderous ploy meant to win elections. Back then, it worked. Attorney General Loretta Lynch clearly would like to see today’s historical echo stricken from the record. And she just as clearly can teach her fellow North Carolinians more than a few things about tolerance. Steve Ford, former editorial page editor at Raleigh’s News & Observer, is now a Volunteer Program Associate at the North Carolina Council of Churches.