The state argued that lowering the bar on ballot access requirements would invite rogue parties to run, thus cluttering the ballot and confusing voters. Nonetheless, from 1929 to 1981, parties had to collect just 10,000 signatures; in one election cycle, the limit was reduced to 5,000. Only in the early ‘80s, when the Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party appeared on the ballot, did the state legislature pass a law upping the requirements.
Damn those Communist and Socialist rogues for daring to suggest they might have--oh, let me see--a First Amendment right to free speech and political organization....
Ironically, the judge personally agreed with the Greens/Libertarians that the 2% ballot access number is unnecessarily restrictive:
Last week, Superior Court Judge Leon Stanback Jr. told the small, but packed Wake County courtroom that “personally I think 5,000 or 10,000 signatures should be enough, but the legislature hasn’t seen that it’s sufficient.” He chose not to rule on the constitutionality of the state ballot access law, and instead sent the case to trial. A date hasn’t been set, but the lawsuit is expected to be heard in March.
The State's other argument is apparently the "Pat Buchanan in Florida in 2000 Voters are too Stupid" argument, that
“The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states have an interest in avoiding ballot confusion and clutter.”
Of course, I should have seen it all along: too many candidates and too many choices is too confusing for voters.
Now that's true democracy in action.