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Third parties give Tar Heel voters choices

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The recent additions of the Green and Constitution parties are a welcome sight to North Carolina’s political realm.

The N.C. State Board of Elections officially recognized the Constitution Party this week after collecting 12,000 valid signatures before a deadline, the Associated Press reported.

“This has been 10 years in the making and we are very excited,” state Constitution Party Chairman Al Pisano said in a statement.

The Green Party was recognized in March.

For far too long, the Republicans and Democrats held a monopoly on the elections process, enacting laws that made it more difficult for other parties to be included on the ballot.

In 2010, the Carolina Journal, citing Ballot Access News, reported that North Carolina had some of the country’s most stringent barriers for minority parties seeking recognition. At the time, only Oklahoma was tougher for presidential candidates and Alabama more burdensome in statewide elections.

But those laws have finally loosened a bit, giving Tar Heel voters three new political choices in the past decade.

Prior to a law passed by the General Assembly last fall, parties had to collect more than 90,000 signatures. That number, thankfully, was drastically reduced.

The new law also allowed parties with candidates on ballots in at least 35 of the other 49 states in the most recent presidential election to be recognized — which opened the door for the Green Party.

“North Carolina is an independent-thinking state and I think people are ready for more choices and more ideas,” Kevin Hayes, vice chairman of the N.C. Constitution Party, said last year.

Records with the N.C. State Board of Elections show that as of June 2, the state has more registered Democrats (2,657,380) than any other political party.

While we’re glad to see more parties on the ballot, it seems counter-intuitive that the laws were relaxed under Republican rule, since the GOP has the most to lose.

There are currently more unaffiliated voters (2,164,734) than registered Republicans (2,082,906.)

Not everyone fits into the two-party paradigm and more choices allow potential voters the chance to find a candidate with whom they identify.

The Constitution Party is likely to draw disillusioned conservatives because of its adherence to, well, the Constitution — something most Republicans (with very few exceptions) only pay lip service to.

It could also be a better fit than the Libertarian Party for those who are more socially conservative.

According to its website, the seven “essential core values” of the state party are: sanctity of life; religious freedom; traditional family; private property rights; a pro-Second Amendment stance; anti-socialism; and national sovereignty.

Likewise, the Green Party could pull in the far-left voters from the Democratic Party.

Opponents argue that if candidates from third parties get elected, it could lead to (even more) political gridlock.

That could be so, but would fewer laws getting passed really be a bad thing?

Richmond County Daily Journal, Rockingham

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