RALEIGH — State Rep. Ken Goodman, D-Richmond, this week introduced House Bill 737, which, if passed, would make make major reforms to North Carolina’s election process.
Goodman’s bill aims to allow unaffiliated voters to file for elected office without having to file voter petitions and conduct open non-partisan primaries, where the top two vote-getters proceed to the general election, according to a statement released this week.
“We have to put voters back in charge of politics,” Goodman said in a statement. “Right now, the decks are stacked, the politicans are picking their voters and the result is hyper-partisanship on both sides of the aisle.”
Goodman said he believes unaffiliated voters deserve the same right to access the election process as candidates registered as Democrats or Republicans.
“The fact that an independent must go and acquire a certain percentage of registered voters before they can get on the ballot seems like an unfair roadblock we are presenting them just because they are an unaffiliated voter,” he said. “When you open-up the process to competition, it will keep both parties honest. A discussion of ideas and policy agendas will mean the voters get to hear and see more options and more public debate.”
According to the latest statistics with the North Carolina State Board of Elections, the number of unaffiliated voters (2,017,783) is on par with that of both registered Republicans (2,047,342) and Democrats (2,639,409). There are 32,346 voters registered as Libertarians. That party previously sued the state for equal ballot access.
According to Goodman, the open primary model is a hybrid of those in California and Louisiana.
Goodman is “hopeful” the major parties will be accepting of his bill, but said, nonetheless, that it will get the debate started.
When Goodman first announced his plan last year to introduce the legislation, Rep. Paul Tine, U-Dare, was the only member of the N.C. House of Representatives not affiliated with the two major parties.
Kenneth Robinette, chairman of the Richmond County Board of Commissioners, had to collect nearly 1,200 signatures to get his name on last November’s ballot after switching from the Democratic Party to being unaffiliated.