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.

Two more chances for McCrory to do the right thing

The longest General Assembly session in 13 years may be over, but Governor Pat McCrory still has some big decisions to make, with two controversial bills on his desk for consideration. A broad coalition of environmental groups calls one of them, the misnamed Regulatory Reform Act of 2015, possibly the worst environmental bill since McCrory has been in office and that’s saying something, considering the attacks on clean water, air, and land in the last three years. The legislation, more appropriately called the Polluter Protection Act, is a collection of many individual rollbacks that the Senate stuffed into a one-page House bill with little debate that removes protections for streams, soil, groundwater and coastal areas. It allows companies to avoid penalties for violating environmental laws if they turn themselves in and hide evidence from communities affected by pollution who turn to the courts for help. The environmental groups sent a letter to McCrory this week asking him to veto the legislation pointing out that “Nothing in H765 is essential. Much is harmful.” The letter asks McCrory to veto to the bill and reject its vision for “a dirtier, less healthy North Carolina.” It seems like the least he could do. And while he has the veto stamp out, he should also use on it House Bill 318 that passed in the legislative session’s waning days that would punish undocumented immigrants in the state and make it harder for thousands of families to afford enough to eat. A letter from N.C. Justice Center Executive Director Rick Glazier asking McCrory to veto the bill points out that it takes authority away from how local communities interact with immigrants and gives local law enforcement agencies less flexibility.   McCrory, as a long time mayor, ought to understand that. And as Glazier wrote to the governor, the bill was passed with disturbing anti-immigrant rhetoric in the debate on the House floor, where bill supporters described North Carolina being “overrun by illegal immigrants.” The bill also punishes low-income families by banning the state from continuing to apply for waivers from the federal government that allow people in economic distressed parts of the state to receive food stamp benefits. The bill would result in 100,000 people being denied food assistance next year, regardless of the economic conditions in their communities. McCrory missed an opportunity to stand up to the General Assembly when he signed an elections bill that not only moves up the primary for legislative and Congressional races to March, a huge advantage for incumbents, but also creates new political slush funds that allow top elected officials, including McCrory himself, to skirt contribution limits. McCrory railed against special interests and what he called “the culture of corruption” when he was running for office. By signing the elections bill creating the slush funds, he just made that culture worse. He can partially redeem himself by taking out his veto stamp and rejecting legislation that threatens the environment, demonizes and endangers immigrants and punishes thousands of low-income families. The session may be over but there’s still time for McCrory to do the right thing, and stand up for a safer, cleaner, and more compassionate North Carolina. We’ll find out shortly if he’s up to it.

Report: North Carolina remains stuck in reverse

New budget leaves state ill-equipped to promote prosperity or even meet basic needs   State lawmakers concluded their 2015 session this week with a flurry of activity on a host of important substantive and controversial issues. Indeed, there was so much action that it was almost enough to overshadow the most important bill of the year – the massive 429 page state budget that became law only last Friday. Fortunately, a new and extremely useful report from the fiscal policy experts at the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center should help to return public attention to the budget and the myriad important policy changes it contains. Sadly, the overarching findings of the report are not encouraging. Most notable is the fact that “tax changes made in the new budget will limit North Carolina’s ability to support the public investments that promote widespread prosperity.” The following is from a media release that accompanied the new report: Tax cuts will reduce available revenue for the biennium by $841.8 million, according to a new report from the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the NC Justice Center. Within four years, the annual cost of the tax changes will balloon to more than $1 billion each year, due to the phase in of tax rate reductions for individual taxpayers and profitable corporations. This revenue hit will limit the ability to support state investments in public education, economic development, the court system, and other services that serve as essential building blocks of long-term economic growth, the report said. “At this critical point in the state’s uneven and slow economic recovery, policymakers chose to deliver greater tax benefits to the wealthiest few rather than build a solid foundation that supports opportunity for many,” said Tazra Mitchell, a policy analyst with the Budget & Tax Center and co-author of the report. “Public investments that promote a strong and inclusive middle class—quality schools, affordable healthcare and housing and safe, healthy neighborhoods—are being sacrificed to pay for tax cuts that primarily benefit the wealthy and profitable corporations.” Compared to the 2015 fiscal year budget, the new budget increases total General Fund spending by 3.4 percent in the first year. Most of these funds will pay for higher public school costs due to rising enrollments, the UNC system, and Medicaid, as well as pay raises and bonuses for teachers and other public employees. Accordingly, the state budget will barely cover the pressing needs of North Carolinians and leaves little for rural economic development, environmental protection, and other vital services. Since 2010, North Carolina’s state budgets have increasingly failed to keep up with public needs, the report said. State spending as part of the economy has consistently shrunk year after year, and only continues to do so with the new budget—at a time when public needs are growing, not shrinking. State budgets typically allow spending to increase as the population grows and the economy changes, especially after an economic downturn, as it helps the state to keep up with its residents’ needs. Instead, inadequacy runs rampant in the 2016 fiscal year budget: flat year-over-year spending on the pre-kindergarten program that serves at-risk 4-year olds; investment per student in public schools well below 2008 pre-recession levels; and rising tuition at community colleges for the seventh consecutive year. The budget also fails to expand Medicaid, offer any cost-of-living adjustments for retired public employees, supply funding for the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, or support rural communities by expanding access to reliable high-speed internet. Additionally, the budget’s new income tax cuts and sales tax expansion shift the tax responsibility to low- and middle-income taxpayers and away from the well-off and profitable corporations. This tax shift won’t help boost North Carolina’s economy, the report said. State lawmakers expanded the state sales tax to apply to repair, maintenance, and installation services to make up some of the money lost by cutting income taxes. Consequently, at a time when every dollar matters in making ends meet, low- and middle income taxpayers will now pay more in sales taxes while seeing little to no benefit from income tax cuts. Meanwhile, large, profitable corporations get tax cuts under the budget at the same time the state is reducing support for vital services. In North Carolina, the wealthier someone is the lower the share of his or her income that goes toward state and local taxes compared to everyone else. The tax changes reflected in the new budget exacerbate this disparity. On average, North Carolinians making $20,000 a year or less will see their overall state taxes go up slightly by $7. Those making between $34,000 and $57,000, on average, will receive a tax cut of $44, which equates to $3.67 per month. The top 1 percent, those making at least $423,000 a year, will on average receive a tax cut of nearly $2,000. “Further tax cuts means there simply will not be enough revenue to repair our crumbling infrastructure and develop the state’s human capital in ways that position our state to compete,” said Cedric Johnson, a policy analyst with the Budget & Tax Center and co-author of the report. The full report can be found at this link: