LP ballot access for 2020

The 2018 midterms are over and the Libertarian Party is in great shape for the next election in 2020 with full ballot access in nineteen states and the District of Columbia, minor party status in twelve more, and five states where the lack of official recognition is not terribly prohibitive. That leaves twelve states where lacking stature is a high barrier, and Arizona where having standing as a long-recognized party has been turned into a hurdle by the Republicans in that state. Nevertheless, the LP is in a better position for a presidential election cycle than it has ever been and is undeniably closer to the status of the two establishment parties than all other national alternative parties combined.

The LP also qualifies for a record number of presidential primaries. States that may have a primary are marked with an asterisk.

Party/major party status states:
California* — There are over twice as many registered Libertarians as the number required to maintain party status.
Colorado — With very healthy numbers of registered Libertarians, the LPCO is assured of a line on the ballot.
District of Columbia* — Ethan and Joseph Bishop-Henchman each ran for office in D.C. and each received enough to retain party recognition.
Hawaii — LPHI attained major party status in 2014, which lasts for at least ten years.
Idaho* — By running a sufficient number of candidates the Idaho LP maintains official status for 2020.
Kansas — Jeff Caldwell for Governor and Rob Hodgkinson for Secretary of State both received more than enough to maintain status for the LPKS.
Massachusetts* — With 4.2% for State Auditor, Daniel Fishman keeps the Bay State LP on the ballot.
Missouri *— State Auditor candidate Sean O’Toole polled enough votes to maintain party recognition through 2022.
Montana *— The Montana LP soldiers on with full party status with sufficient votes for Supreme Court Clerk candidate Roger Roots and Rick Breckendridge for US Senate.
Nebraska *— With well over ten thousand registered Libertarians, the party is in good shape to maintain party recognition in the Cornhusker State.
Nevada — Robert Strawder in CD1 and Steve Brown in CD3 both received over 1% to maintain ballot status for Libertarians in the Silver State.
New Mexico* — With more than twice the number of registered voters needed to maintain major party recognition, the NMLP is in good shape.
New York* — Gubernatorial candidate Larry Sharpe received 90,664 votes, well over the 50 thousand required to attain official status for the LP in the Empire State for the first time.
North Carolina* — With Gary Johnson and gubernatorial candidate Lon Cecil each meeting the 2% requirement in 2016, the LPNC maintains ballot access.
North Dakota — The NDLP successfully completed it’s petition to regain ballot access well ahead of the deadline.
Oklahoma*— Two candidates for statewide office broke 2.5% to maintain party recognition for the OKLP through 2022.
South Carolina *— Palmetto State Libertarians retain ballot access by continuing to meet organizational requirements.
South Dakota* — Legislation extending party status from one election cycle to two was passed this year, allowing ballot access for the SDLP to carry over.
Utah* — Craig Bowden’s showing in the US Senate race was better than the 2% for all US House races, and the Beehive State LP keeps it’s place.
West Virginia* — David Moran’s 2016 result for Governor is the determining factor maintaining the Mountaineer LP’s ballot status.

Minor party status(includes any legal inequality) states:
Arkansas — After the state Legislature raised the signature requirement from 10,000 to 3% the LPAR both filed an lawsuit and gathered over 18 thousand signatures. Now that the federal court has enjoined the 3% requirement the LPAR is on for 2020.
Connecticut — The LP has minor party status in Connecticut. Candidates for most offices will need a petition with 25 signatures.
Delaware — The First State requires .1% of registered voters to affiliate with a party for it to attain minor status. The Delaware LP has about ten times that many.
Florida — Being organized maintains minor party status in the Sunshine State and LPF candidate filing requirements are equal to those of major parties.
Kentucky* — The Bluegrass State determines party status by presidential election results only. Gary Johnson’s 2.79% put the LPKY in the status of being a political organization that can nominate candidates by primary, convention, or petition.
Indiana — Mark Rutherford pulled 3.2% for Secretary of State to keep the Indiana LP recognized through 2022 but it would have required 10% for them to be allowed, and required, to have primaries.
Louisiana — By maintaining enough registered Libertarians and by fielding statewide candidates the LPL holds firm to official recognition but to be on the same level as the two establishment parties they would need to increase the number of voters registered with the party to 40,000.
Michigan — Bruce Campbell’s 128,269 votes for Trustee of Michigan State is about five times the requirement to maintain party status for 2020 but the MILP did not receive enough votes to be qualified to have primaries.
Minnesota — The LP holds minor party status in Minnesota which means that every candidate for 2020, including for president, will need to petition.
Mississippi — With just a requirement to be organized, the Mississippi LP continues to be able to participate on a legally equal footing with the exception of the ability to hold a presidential primary.
Ohio— Odd language in the state law appears to indicate that a party that successfully petitions for ballot access must meet a vote test at the first general election to occur twelve months after the party is recognized. Because the 2018 election occurred less than twelve months after the Ohio LP submitted their petition on July 2nd, they should be recognized until at least 2020. The current Secretary of State appeared to disagree with that opinion but partisan filings for local elections have been allowed, indicating that the LP retains it’s status.
Oregon — The Oregon LP had ballot status through 2020 but thanks to Nick Chen getting more than 1% for Governor that status now extends to 2022.
Texas — The Lone Star state requires 5% for a statewide office for a party to maintain status. Mark Ash received 24% for a spot on the Court of Criminal Appeals. To be on completely equal footing a party would need to poll 20% for Governor.
Vermont — The Green Mountain State has organizational requirements that once met will result in minor party status.
Wyoming — Richard Brubaker’s 3.5% for US House allows the LP to continue with minor party status.

Lenient no status states:
Iowa — The gubernatorial candidate in Iowa failed to receive enough votes to maintain party recognition for the LPIA, but low petitioning requirements will allow candidates to get on the ballot with the party label.
New Jersey — No alternative party has ever met New Jersey’s vote test to become officially recognized, but candidates of unrecognized parties may use their partisan label and the signature requirements to get on the ballot are the same. The petition for presidential candidates is quite attainable.
Pennsylvania — LP candidates in the The Keystone State did not meet the vote test for party status, but all candidates have the same petition requirement regardless of party and can use a partisan label.
Rhode Island — The signature requirement to gain status for a new political party is much higher than the one thousand signatures needed to place an Independent presidential candidate on the ballot with the ability to use a partisan label and potentially gain official status for their party. That’s the process that will be used.
Washington — Candidates may file and use the Libertarian label for all partisan offices, except President. A one-thousand signature petition will be required to get the LP presidential candidate on the ballot due to a questionable decision in 2016 to deny the LPWA major party status.
Wisconsin — The LPWI didn’t have any statewide candidate meet the threshold to maintain party status, but the signature requirements to file will are the same for candidates of unrecognized parties. There will be a petition requirement of a few thousand signatures for the presidential candidate.

Restrictive no status states:
Alaska — Alaska’s 2018 gubernatorial candidate did not receive enough votes to retain full ballot status. The state Division of Elections has ruled that the party has no access at all despite a ruling from 1987 that would seem to say that the LP retains the ability to run a presidential candidate.
Alabama — With a requirement of 20% of the vote for a statewide office, it’s exceedingly difficult to maintain ballot access in Alabama. With a signature requirement of close to 52 thousand signatures for party status, most parties get their presidential candidate on the ballot via the Independent route which only requires five thousand signatures.
Georgia — Georgia has what Richard Winger describes as the worst ballot access law in the nation. The LP has status as a political organization but each candidate for any office must meet the same prohibitive petition requirement as an Independent. The number of signatures needed for presidential candidates was struck down for 2016 and there is a pending case regarding the rest of the law.
Illinois — The Prairie State has byzantine ballot access laws at all levels that work to restrict participation and will force the LP to gather 25 thousand signatures in addition to requirements for individual candidates.
Maine — The LPME had a sufficient number of registered voters to meet the requirement for a new party, even though they failed the vote test to retain status. The Secretary of State changed all registered Libertarians to non-affiliated. The LPME plans to pursue a re-registration drive to re-acquire ballot status.
Maryland — The LP gubernatorial candidate in Maryland did not reach the 1% required to keep ballot access in the Old Line State. The petition for 2020 would need 10,000 signatures but the Maryland LP is challenging the need for the petition as over 22 thousand voters are registered Libertarian.
New Hampshire — With the 2018 gubernatorial campaign falling short of the 4% necessary to retain official status, petitioning will be necessary to run candidates for the next election.
Tennessee — The petition requirement for Independent candidates, including for the presidency, is quite low but signatures equal to 2.5% of the vote in the last gubernatorial election are needed to attain party status. Without a change in the law the LP will likely use the Independent route again for the 2020 presidential candidate in Tennessee.
Virginia — No alternative party is recognized in the Commonwealth as it requires getting 10% in a statewide race. To place candidates on the ballot requires a 10 thousand signature petition.

Special cases:
Arizona* — By having enough registered voters to meet the requirement, the Arizona LP continues to be a recognized political party. However, the Arizona GOP deliberately changed signature requirements for individual candidates in a manner that only affected Libertarians. As a practical matter the party can get it’s presidential candidate on the ballot but for any other candidate it is very difficult.




Chris is a former chair of the Oklahoma Libertarian Party and in 2018 was the first LP nominee for Governor in the state.

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Chris Powell

Chris Powell

Chris is a former chair of the Oklahoma Libertarian Party and in 2018 was the first LP nominee for Governor in the state.

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