Now that the 2020 presidential election is mostly over we can start looking at what choices voters will have in 2022. Libertarian nominee Jo Jorgensen, the only candidate other than Trump and Biden whose name was on ballots for all voters, earned over 1.7 million votes. That’s a drop from Gary Johnson’s total four years ago but still well above any LP presidential campaign prior to 2016, including Johnson’s 2012 run. Other alternative parties and candidates did not fare so well, combined they achieved less than half of Jorgensen’s result.
As we know, each state has it’s own election system and rules. In some states ballot access is solely determined by the presidential election result, in others it’s not even a consideration. We’ll look at each state individually to see how many options voters will have in terms of political parties, followed by a tally of the number of states where each alternative party has ballot access. Naturally, since the Republicans and Democrats have written all the rules neither are in danger of losing recognition so they are omitted from further discussion.
District of Columbia
Having ballot access as a party in D.C. means candidate petitions require fewer signatures than for unaffiliated candidates. The LP and the Greens are recognized. Any other alternative party that wants status will need to file for it and then have a candidate get the higher number of signatures and then earn at least 7,500 votes.
The new Aloha Aina Party was able to secure sufficient support in legislative races and thus will be able to participate in future elections, as will the Libertarian and Constitution Parties. The American Shopping Party and the Greens failed to receive the required number of votes in any of the three criteria that could have preserved their status, so they and any other new party would need to gather about 800 signatures to gain recognition.
The Alaska Independence Party is secure in it’s ballot status. The only other party to be close are the Libertarians but they would likely need over three thousand more voters to register with the LP. Otherwise they, as well as any other party, will need to do petitioning for every candidate running for any particular office in 2022.
The Libertarian Party maintains it’s status with a healthy margin in voter registration statistics, but with that recognition comes a petition requirement that was changed in 2015 to include all unaffiliated voters, which hardly affected the establishment party candidates but increased the signature count for those running under the LP banner tenfold. However, the candidates of any group that managed to meet Arizona’s signature requirement for a new party would not have any petition for their nominees. In short, the LP is on the ballot but the Legislature found a way to keep Libertarians from participating in most partisan elections.
The LP holds on to major party status in Gary Johnson’s home state thanks to Stephen Curtis’ 7.1% for the state appeals court. The Greens lost recognition as a minor party, falling just short of the half-percent needed in the presidential race. Also unable to meet that mark was the Constitution Party.
The LP nominee for Corporation Commission, Todd Hagopian, took 24% of the vote, ensuring the Libertarians ballot access in the Sooner State through 2024. Any other alternative party that wishes to run candidates here will need signatures equal to 3% of the number of votes in the presidential election.
Libertarian candidates for the offices of Governor, Attorney General, and State Treasurer all met the vote test for continued recognition, as did Constitution Party candidates in the Auditor and Treasurer races and United Utah’s candidate in the State Auditor election. Those three parties will remain, any new organization will need a 2,000 signature petition.
The Constitution Party’s Jeff Haggit pulled nearly 3% for US House. Richard Brubaker, the LP nominee, earned 3.7% for the same office. These results keep both parties recognized. It is also noteworthy that Libertarian Marshall Burt was elected to the Wyoming state House and another Libertarian, Bethany Baldes, was just 32 votes short in her state legislative race.
A party can maintain it’s access to the ballot in Idaho by running three or more candidates for state or federal office, which the LP and Constitution Party have done. Any other party wishing to have candidates seek office in the state will need to petition and gather signatures equal to 2% of the number of votes for President.
Only parties whose candidate for president achieved 5% or more of the vote are recognized in Washington. The state has a ‘Top Two’ primary system where candidates for any office except President may use any partisan label they choose, but Top Two also makes it virtually impossible for any alternative party candidate to move from the primary to the general election when both establishment parties are represented in the race.
Thanks to their continued ability to run candidates achieving the necessary vote threshold, the LP maintains it’s status as the only recognized alternative party in Montana. The Green Party was recognized and the state even held a primary for them, but was removed by court action after signers of their ballot petition were persuaded to disavow their signatures in an extra-legal procedure. The Greens or other parties that want to participate in elections will need to gather more than 16 thousand signatures, plus a sufficient cushion to protect against potential decertification efforts.
The LP runs candidates able to meet the vote test to maintain ballot access and so continue to be recognized by the state. Any other party seeking to nominate candidates will need to petition, with a signature requirement of 1% of the total number of voters in the most recent gubernatorial election.
The Libertarian candidates for President and for Governor fell short of the necessary 5% to maintain ballot status. The LP and any other alternative party will need to petition to be able to run candidates under their label. 7000 signatures are required.
One thousand registered voters will maintain party recognition in Colorado. The Constitution, Approval Voting, Green, Unity, and Libertarian Parties all meet this requirement. New parties may gather 10,000 signatures or alternatively they may choose to meet some organizational requirements and seek either to put a candidate for statewide office on the ballot by petition and get 5% of the vote or qualify by the aforementioned thousand voters registered under their label. Major party status requires having a candidate to get 10% in the gubernatorial election.
Gene Siadek’s 6.4% in the US Senate race maintains ballot status for the Libertarian Party in the Cornhusker state. Other parties wanting access will need a petition with signatures equal to 1% of the vote total in the last gubernatorial election. For the 2022 election the Legal Marijuana Now Party has already submitted a petition and is awaiting it’s approval by the state.
The Independent American Party, a Constitution Party affiliate, and the Libertarian Party meet both the vote test and the voter registration threshold to maintain status as recognized parties in the Silver State. Any others would need to submit a petition with signatures equal to 1% of the vote in each of the state’s four US House districts.
Parties attain ballot access by petitioning to get a candidate for Governor qualified and having that person get at least 1% of the vote. The Libertarians and the Green affiliate Mountain Party continue to be able to surmount this obstacle, this year with Erika Kolenich for the LP and Daniel Lutz of the Mountain Party.
Both Jo Jorgensen and Senate candidate Jason Buckley topped the 1% threshold to keep the LP on the ballot in Kansas. Other alternative parties that want to have people run for office in the Sunflower State will need to get signatures equal to 2% of the last gubernatorial vote.
The Independent, Libertarian, Pacific Green, and Working Families parties have enough registered voters to retain their status. Michael Marsh earned enough support running for State Treasurer to ensure that the Constitution Party continues to be recognized. It appears the Progressive Party met neither threshold, so they and any other alternative party would need to petition and gather signatures equal to 1.5% of the last gubernatorial vote.
Minor party status in the Land of a Thousand Lakes lacks value, as candidates are treated as if they were unaffiliated. The Legal Marijuana Now Party retained major party status through the 5.91% result for their US Senate candidate Kevin O’Conner, and the Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party is also recognized as a major party due to a similar result in 2018(such recognition lasts for four years).
The Golden State determines party status by registration. The Libertarian, Peace & Freedom, American Independent, and Green parties all continue to meet the requirement, although the Greens are perilously close to falling below the necessary 0.33% that retains status. Any other party would need to either seek to have nearly 83 thousand people register as aligned with their organization or do a prohibitively large petition requiring signatures equal to 10% of the number of voters in the last gubernatorial election.
The Jorgensen/Cohen vote total of 1.2% retained ballot status for the LP. Results in statewide races from 2018 keep the Constitution Party recognized. Other parties will need 10 thousand voters to sign a petition. The Green Party did just that for 2020 but was removed in a questionable ruling based on a technicality. Kanye West, using the Independent petition process, also was barred from the Wisconsin ballot for President over a procedural flaw rather than failing to have sufficient signatures.
With none of the alternative presidential candidates able to get 2% of the vote, Iowans have only the establishment parties as recognized organizations in the state. Other parties will need to petition to have their members run for office and will need to have a gubernatorial candidate earn 2% or more in 2022 to attain official status.
In 2019 the state Legislature began requiring filing fees for minor party candidates, which the state Supreme Court has ruled against, but another part of the law was to reduce ballot access retention from 5% for any statewide office down to 2% and to extend recognition to five election cycles from meeting the threshold. The Libertarian and Green Parties are able to maintain status under this provision. Other groups would need a petition with signatures equal to 1% of the number of votes in the last gubernatorial election.
The Sunshine State depends on organizational requirements to recognize minor political parties which allows access for the LP, Greens, Constitution Party, the Party for Socialism & Liberation, Reform Party, Ecology Party, and an Independent Party of Florida. The Legislature did pass a law requiring a petition for the presidential candidate of any party not recognized by the FEC, which was challenged by the PSL and the Independent Party and upheld by the court, but then the state put PSL’s Gloria La Riva on the ballot anyway. While candidates for any other office appear to be able to run under these partisan labels, the situation for President seems a bit murky.
The Wolverine State allows a party to retain ballot access if one of it’s candidates achieves a vote total of at least 1% of that received by the winner of the most recent Sec. of State race.
The Natural Law, Taxpayers(a Constitution Party affiliate), Working Class, Green, and Libertarian Parties fulfilled this requirement. Any new party would need a petition with signatures equal to 1% of the total vote in the last gubernatorial election.
The Natural State naturally tried once more to pass a restrictive petition requirement to keep any alternative party off the ballot only to have it stricken down in federal court. Although neither the LP nor any other party met the 3% vote test to retain status, the petition to get back on will be 10 thousand signatures rather than two and a half to three times that as would have been required by the 2019 law that foundered in district court and at the 8th Circuit.
Nick Kasoff for Treasurer and Kevin Babcock for Attorney General hit the 2% threshold to keep the LP going through 2024 and Jacob Luetkemeyer’s race for Auditor on the Constitution Party label two years ago keeps them on through 2022. Other parties wanting to participate in elections will need a petition of 10 thousand signatures.
With over 41 thousand voters registered with the Greens, they are the only alternative party recognized in Maine. Any other group would need to nominate a presidential or gubernatorial candidate by petition and get 5% of the vote or get 4,000 voters to register with their party. The LP had met that threshold but maintaining party status requires having 10,000 registered voters participate in each general election. The LP is in court over their registrants being switched by the state to Independent in 2018, a move that was ruled unconstitutional in federal court. The People’s Party is also seeking recognition.
In the Yellowhammer State an alternative party must submit a petition with signatures equal to 3% of the last gubernatorial vote and then to maintain that status a party candidate for statewide office must receive at least 20% of the vote. Both requirements are oppressively difficult to meet. The Libertarian Party has begun petitioning for 2022 and if successful would be the first alternative party with candidates under their label in Alabama in over twenty years.
The Land of Lincoln breaks up ballot access into the different political subdivisions. Both the Green and Libertarian Parties have status in some areas, but would need a petition with the signatures of 25 thousand voters to gain statewide recognition, as would any other alternative party.
Political parties in Mississippi must meet some organizational requirements, as established in state law unchanged since 1890. The eleven alternative parties recognized in the state are:
Veterans, Reform, Natural Law, Prohibition, Libertarian, Justice, Green, Constitution, American Freedom, American Delta, and America First.
Party recognition in the Hoosier state is attained by a candidate receiving at least 2% of the vote for Secretary of State. To field a candidate a party must petition and gather signatures equal to 2% of the vote the last time that Sec. of State was on the ballot. The Libertarians have status and have continued to meet the threshold for several elections. No other alternative parties are recognized in Indiana.
A political party in the Pelican State needs to have a thousand voters register with them, and pay a fee, to be recognized and be able to run candidates. The current list of recognized parties includes the Independent Party of Louisiana, the Libertarians, and the Greens.
With no alternative candidate achieving at least 3% of the vote for president, there are only the establishment parties with ballot status in Ohio. The requirement that would need to be met to get any other party recognized is a petition with signatures equal to 1% of the last presidential or gubernatorial election.
In the Volunteer State a party needs signatures equal to 2.5% of the last gubernatorial vote, gathered in a 90 day period. In contrast, Independents may get on the ballot for president with 275 signatures or for any other state or federal office with just 25 signatures and so this is what all alternative candidates do. Since 1961 when the current law went into effect the only time the qualification has been met was with George Wallace’s American Independent Party in 1968.
The Bluegrass State requires parties to get at least 2% of the presidential vote in order to be a political organization and 20% to be a political party. With no alternative candidates meeting either threshold there won’t be another chance for a party to gain recognition until 2024 when presidential candidates can be placed on the ballot by petition.
Political parties must meet some organizational requirements to attain ballot access in Vermont. The Progressive, Libertarian, and Liberty Union Parties have status. Any other group would need to hold caucuses to elect a committee in at least ten towns and those committees then must select state officers and delegates.
No alternative party has met the requirement of 5% for statewide office since the Moderate Party met the threshold in 2014. Any party that seeks recognition will need to do a petition and gather signatures equal to 5% of the presidential vote. The fairly low petition requirements for Independents combined with the ability to use a party label mean most alternative candidates are able to use that process.
The Tar Heel State allows parties that placed their presidential candidate on ballots in at least 70% of states to continue to be recognized. The Libertarians did this but other parties will need to petition with a requirement of signatures equal to a quarter of a percent of the number of voters in the last gubernatorial election.
The Empire State allows fusion, where a candidate can be the nominee of more than one party, and gives each recognized party a ballot line. The Conservative Party nominated Donald Trump along with the GOP and Biden was nominated by the Working Families Party as well as the Democrats. Both of these alternative parties were able to receive enough votes on their separate ballot lines to maintain status under the much more restrictive requirements passed by the Legislature back in the spring. The other four alternative parties that had ballot access in the state are suing to overturn the law. If the lawsuit fails then these parties will be faced with petitioning to get a gubernatorial candidate on the ballot for 2022 and needing to get 130,000 votes for that person to regain status.
To be recognized in the state a party is required to nominate a statewide candidate by petition, needing 10,000 signatures, and then have that candidate get at least 10% of the vote. This is a high barrier and at this time there are no alternative parties recognized in Virginia.
No alternative parties met the 4% vote threshold for Governor or US Senate necessary to have continued ballot status, and so any party wanting candidates on the ballot in the Granite State will need to petition and gather signatures equal to 3% of the number of votes in the last state general election.
The Palmetto State lets a party maintain ballot status if they adhere to the organizational requirements and have some candidates for office at least every other election. Thus, the Alliance, Constitution, Green, Independence, Labor, United Citizens, Working Families, and Libertarian parties are all recognized. New parties would need to turn in a petition with 10,000 signatures as well as meet the organizational rules.
The Old Line State allows a party to stay on the ballot for two general elections after gaining recognition. There are four alternative parties able to run candidates in the state in 2022: Libertarian, Green, Bread & Roses, and Working Class. All will be seeking at least 1% in the gubernatorial election to continue to be qualified. Any new party will need a petition with 10,000 signatures to gain status.
No alternative candidates met the threshold of 3% of the vote for statewide office, nor is there any alternative party likely to attract voter registration of 1%. However, the requirements for all candidates are the same and a person running for office may use the political designation of their choice if they are not affiliated with any recognized party.
The Nutmeg State stipulates that parties either achieve a total of 20% of the gubernatorial vote or 20% voter registration to attain major party status or qualify for each office individually through a candidate getting at least 1% for that office. Four alternative parties currently have some level of access, the Libertarian, Green, Working Families, and Independent parties.
Jo Jorgensen achieved 1.2% of the presidential vote to preserve status for the Libertarian Party to place statewide candidates on the ballot in Georgia. Any other alternative party will need to do a petition and gather signatures equal to 1% of the number of eligible voters. However, the LP is recognized as a political organization, not a major party, and for any other office including U S House their candidates will need to petition as Independents as would candidates of any other alternative party. The signature requirement is so high that it hasn’t been used since 1964.
All candidates must petition to get on the ballot, regardless of party, but to be recognized by the state a party must have it’s candidates for General Assembly receive 10% of the total vote for all of the legislative offices in the Assembly. This is a requirement that no alternative party can expect to meet any time soon.
A party must have a candidate receive votes equal to 2% of the largest total received by anyone running for office in the state in order to stay on the ballot as a minor party. None did so in this year’s election and so alternative candidates wishing to run in the 2022 elections will need to petition and gather a significantly larger number of signatures compared to establishment party candidates.
The First State requires a party to first attain voter registration of 0.1% to be recognized as a minor party and 5% to become a major party. The Independent Party has above 5% while the LP and the Conservative Party both meet the lower threshold. Other parties that are close to attaining minor party status are the Green, Liberal, American Delta, and American parties.
Number of states where each party has ballot access:
Libertarian — 32
Green — 15
Constitution — 12 (The Constitution Party of Idaho is disaffiliated)
Working Families — 4
Alliance/American Delta/Reform — 3
Working Class — 2
Natural Law — 2
Parties on the ballot in one state:
Constitution(Idaho) — Disaffiliated from the national Constitution Party
Independent American(Nevada) — State affiliate of the Constitution Party
Mountain Party(West Virginia) — State affiliate of the Green Party
Pacific Green(Oregon) — State affiliate of the Green Party
Legal Marijuana Now(Minnesota)
Peace & Freedom(California)
Socialism & Liberation(Florida)
Reform(Florida) — State affiliate of the Alliance Party
Taxpayers(Michigan) — State affiliate of the Constitution Party
Reform(Mississippi) — Not known to have affiliated with the Alliance Party
United Citizens(South Carolina)
Bread & Roses(Maryland)