Saturday, May 19, 2007

Election Laws

North Carolinians currently vote in the presidential primaries in May of the election year. Some legislators want that to change, since the primary elections have been essentially decided at that point in the year. A new measure being considered in the Legislature would change the primaries to February, effective for the 2008 elections. More than a dozen states are considering the proposed Super Tuesday vote.

Rep. Melanie Wade Goodwin and I have sponsored a bill, House Bill 1645, that would change the way North Carolina casts its electoral votes in national elections. The current method gives all of the state's 15 electoral votes to the candidate with the most votes within the state. Many feel the current system results in federal candidates ignoring North Carolina and focusing intensive media campaigns on a few swing states. The bill proposes giving the electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. The bill passed the Senate this week, and it will likely go before the House in the next few weeks.

The House Committee on Election Laws heard House Bill 1828, which Representatives Paul Luebke, Julia Howard, Jeff Barnhart, and I have introduced. The bill would require greater disclosure of expenditures by 527s, e.g., groups such as and farmers for fairness, which generally participate in campaigns independently of the candidate. In addition, it would clarify access to rescue funds for candidates who have elected to participate in the judicial public financing program. In the situation, those judicial candidates who had participated in the public financing system were impacted by ads that favored their opponents. The ads did not trigger access to rescue money because of the narrow way in which the statute was written, and the bill is mean to correct that. There will be another hearing next week.

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