Monday, February 25, 2008

Ralph Nader is running for president again but it's unlikely his name will end up on the ballot in North Carolina.

Third party candidates must jump a huge hurdle to get on the ballot in this state, and that hurdle includes tens of thousands of signatures.

The winner of the Republican and Democratic primaries will now face a familiar foe, third party candidate Ralph Nader.

"You see the discrimination against small parties as if they're second class citizens," Nader said Sunday. "We have to get over that. The voters want more choices, more voices, and we have to give it to them."

But you likely will not find nader on North Carolina ballots in November.

"It's extremely difficult to get any third party candidate on the ballot," Elon University pollster Dr. Hunter Bacot said. "You have to get so many signatures to have validated by the election board and to have put forward."

State law requires third party candidates to get enough signatures to match two percent of the total vote in the past election.

This year that number is just under 70-thousand verified signatures from registered voters. Candidates have until June first. The state Libertarian party still needs more than 3000 to get their candidate for governor on the ballot.

"For any number of reasons we lost 15, 20, 30-percent of the signatures we get and so right now we've collected about 96,000 raw unverified signatures," NC Libertarian Party Chair Barbara Howe said.

Often those problem signatures come from people who don't put down the right information or are not registered to vote.

There is a much easier way to get on the ballot then getting random signatures all across this state. It used to be if a candidate got 10-percent of the vote in an election they would on the next ballot. That has now changed to two percent, but that has proven difficult as well. Howe ran for governor in 2004. She got just 52,000 votes which amounted to 1.5-percent.

Regardless, Howe believes her party will get enough signatures and hopes for two percent in this year's election.

If not, as the state grows and new voters register it will only mean more signatures required which means more time and money for a party without deep pockets

The Libertarian party is also suing the state to get ballot access this fall and in the future. A judge could take up the issue in court as early as next month.

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