Libertarian Party retains ballot access in 30 states following midterm election; best ever midterm result for LP, best of any alt party in 100 years

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As noted in a previous story, the Libertarian Party is now on the ballot for president in 2016 in thirty states, that is, states where we do not have to petition to get ballot access, as a result of our showing in this month’s election as well as ballot access already retained from prior elections which was not lost.

In IPR and BAN comments, the original story’s author, Richard Winger of Ballot Access News, top election law and election history expert, informs us that this is the best the Libertarian Party has ever done in terms of ballot access retention following a midterm election:

The Libertarian Party is now on the ballot for president in 2016 in thirty states. By contrast, in mid-November 2010, it was on in twenty-seven states.

[T]his is a record for the LP following a midterm year. 2006 was 24. 2002 was 26. 1998 was 27. 1994 was 22. 1990 was 17.

Richard also believes this is the best post-midterm election retention by any party other than Democrats or Republicans in a century:

The Reform Party only had 17 immediately after the Nov. 1998 election. The Green Party only had 19 after the 2002 election. The Progressive Party of Henry Wallace only had 6 after 1950. The Socialist Party had 18 after 1934. So I would say the LP had the best showing since immediately after the 1914 election, when the Progressive, Socialist and Prohibition Parties all had more. 1914 was a fabulous year. Five parties elected members of Congress.

As noted in the original story, the Green and Constitution parties also improved their ballot access retention from four years ago.

Hawaii, Maryland and North Dakota Libertarians retained ballot access for the first time and Libertarians are happy with most ballot measure results from around the country in 2014. The LP had more candidates and better results in races for Governor and US Senate than in 2010 or 2012. The party is also increasing its share of voter registration faster than other national parties, and increasing its pace of growth in voter registration numbers.

In somewhat related news, the national voter turnout this year was the lowest in 72 years, which means that in many states it will be easier to qualify ballot measures for 2016, as well as making it easier for alternative party and independent candidates to qualify for the ballot in many states in 2016.

UPDATE: Richard Winger notes in comments below: Much of the reason for this outcome is that 26 states have made it easier for a party to remain ballot-qualified in the last 30 years: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming. We made all this progress not by lawsuits, but by asking state legislators to do this. We are insane, crazy, nuts, if we don’t continue doing this. And now is the time when legislators are deciding which bills to introduce. Many states have strict deadlines for introducing bills.

26 thoughts on “Libertarian Party retains ballot access in 30 states following midterm election; best ever midterm result for LP, best of any alt party in 100 years

  1. Richard Winger

    Much of the reason for this outcome is that 26 states have made it easier for a party to remain ballot-qualified in the last 30 years: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming. We made all this progress not by lawsuits, but by asking state legislators to do this. We are insane, crazy, nuts, if we don’t continue doing this. And now is the time when legislators are deciding which bills to introduce. Many states have strict deadlines for introducing bills.

  2. AC

    The Con. Party is up if you count states (plus two, minus one, net +1), but not if you consider population. Ohio is a big loss in that regard. These results (and also the relatively large number of disaffiliated or defunct state parties) confirms what many have been saying, that the C.P. is probably on a generally downward trend and is definitely the weakest of the three major minor parties, and we should maybe talk about the “big two” alternative parties (LP and Green) instead of “big three” (L, G, and C). Maybe I’m reading too much into that, but it doesn’t seem far-fetched given that the C.P. has little hope of achieving 270+ EV ballot access in 2016.

    Ohio is also a big and arguably avoidable loss for the LP, in what was otherwise a banner year of growth. This was probably the best midterm the LP has ever had, overall. The Greens didn’t do too bad, either.

  3. paulie Post author

    Good points, Richard and AC. I have updated the story with Richard’s latest comment and will try to publish it as a separate story as well.

  4. Cody Quirk

    Sorry, but I protest the accuracy of Richard’s article on ballot retention for the CP- he still wants to lump the independent Oregon CP in with the national CP, never mind they disaffiliated and are with the National IAP instead.

    He also disregards that the CP also lost ballot access in South Dakota as well as Ohio, even though they got on and retained ballot access back in 2010.

    The national CP is losing ground badly, and such an article on ballot access retention should show that.

  5. paulie Post author

    November issue comes out Nov. 1st which is before the election. That’s why you should look at December, not November (link posted above at 12:33 am).

  6. Andy Craig

    re: ballot access bills, Wisconsin has relatively easy standards for party status (1% in a statewide race during a mid-term, or 1% for President, gets you four years, which L, G, and C all just met), but also still requires all candidates to petition individually, except for presidential nominees, with an equal threshold regardless of party status. There’s really not much of a case for lowering the party threshold below 1%, which as generous as it gets and is usually met by any party that runs in a qualifying race.

    But the large number of uncontested races and record low total number of candidates got some attention this year, so I’m hoping to have draft legislation prepared and circulated which raise the nomination petition thresholds by 50% across the board. The current levels are 200 for state rep, 400 for state senate, 1000 for us house, and 2000 for any statewide election, except independent presidential candidates who need 10,000. Chopping those down to 100, 200, 500, 1000, and 5000 respectively would make ballot access a lot easier all around for everyone, and hopefully appeal to the self-interest of some of the incumbents and newly elected legislators.

    If anybody has any model legislation that might be useful as a starting point along those lines, I’d greatly appreciate it, though it shouldn’t be too complicated or lengthy of a bill.

  7. Cody Quirk

    Guess I misread the BAN date. However Richard’s continued favoritism of the CP in his reporting has struck a nerve with me, especially for someone that I used to view as the most accurate and objective writer/reporter of minor party matters.

    *Used to.

  8. Richard Winger

    I will put a note in the Dec 1 2014 BAN indicating that although the Constitution Party is ballot-qualified in Oregon, the leaders of the state party are not affiliated with the national party. I appreciate everyone who looks carefully at my publication and suggets improvements. The Dec 1 2014 print issue will have the ballot access requirements for 2016, for both new parties and independent candidates for president. It will also show which parties are on the ballot for 2016. It will also have the voter registration data by party, for each state. Anyone who doesn’t now subscribe should e-mail me at richardwinger@yahoo.com if you want a free copy of the Dec 1 2014 issue.

  9. Jill Pyeatt

    As Paulie mentioned above, it’s very likely next year that the Libertarian Party of Oregon will end its affiliation with the national LP (and take its ballot access with it). Is there something different in Oregon that makes this possible, like different laws about political parties, that has made this easier to do than other states, or is it just coincidence?

  10. George Phillies

    The headline is perhaps misleading. The LP gained *Presidential* ballot access without petitioning in 30 states. General ballot access is a different issue. Libertarians in Massachusetts have been able to run *as Libertarians*, with the word “Libertarian” on the line below their name, for something like four decades now.

  11. paulie Post author

    As Paulie mentioned above, it’s very likely next year that the Libertarian Party of Oregon will end its affiliation with the national LP (and take its ballot access with it). Is there something different in Oregon that makes this possible, like different laws about political parties, that has made this easier to do than other states, or is it just coincidence?

    Coincidence, as far as I know.

    The headline is perhaps misleading. The LP gained *Presidential* ballot access without petitioning in 30 states. General ballot access is a different issue. Libertarians in Massachusetts have been able to run *as Libertarians*, with the word “Libertarian” on the line below their name, for something like four decades now.

    Good point, but the headline is too long as it is. I make it clear it is presidential in the first sentence. If I change the headline I am looking for ways to make it shorter, not longer. Speaking of which anyone have suggestions on that?

  12. Andy Craig

    Why the heck would Oregon choose to disaffiliate now, over a spat that is all but settled, and which 98% of Libertarians in the rest of the country never even heard of? National is done with the matter, and the legitimate faction was recognized by the state authorities in the 2014 elections. What exactly is it that LPO feels is so pressing that it is worth pressing the self-destruct button for? Lack of an apology from national? Hurt feelings? Really?

    Taking out your anger over officers that are no longer on the LNC, and a splinter faction in your own states whose claims are no longer recognized by anyone, on Libertarians in the rest of the US and the 2016 Presidential campaign, seems beyond petty and spiteful, and only harms people who had nothing to do with Oregon’s original complaints.

  13. paulie Post author

    The main bone of contention seems to be the national delegates voting for two conventions in a row to seat the Burke/Reeves faction delegates in the Oregon delegation despite the wishes of the Oregon delegation, which Oregon LP considers to be an abridgement of its autonomy as a state party.

  14. Andy Craig

    I get that, and I think that was the wrong decision, but at the most recent convention I think the general feeling is that it was truly inconsequential, given that we were talking about a faction of… what was it, 3? 4?… delegates when there plenty of open seats and they were still a minority of the Oregon delegation. Obviously Oregon took it more seriously, but I think a good chunk of everybody else was just tired of wasting time on more Oregon drama. Nobody wants to fly across the country and spend their time and money on resolving an internal party governance feud in a state they don’t even live in.

    However ill-advised that decision might have been, there is zero indication that it will happen again, and that like I said the matter is essentially settled so far as the national party is concerned. Nobody- not LP national, not the Oregon state government- recognizes Burke/Reeves as the legitimate LP of Oregon. Disaffiliation should be used as a protest against ongoing or future harm to the state party, something that could potentially be fixed by the national party to reconcile. But I don’t see what exactly it is that LPO wants from LP here- there is no remedy other than getting the apology they wanted. And disaffiliating over what boils down to a demand for an apology seems very petty to me, even if I think LPO’s grievances are legitimate.

  15. Richard Winger

    George Phillies has a very legitimate beef with the Massachusetts law on how a candidate gets on the primary ballot of a small ballot-qualified party. About a month ago I e-mailed him and said if the Mass. LP gets a bill introduced in the 2015 session of the legislature, making it substantially easier for a candidate to get on a primary ballot, I would donate $1,000 to the Mass. LP. He hasn’t even responded to my e-mail. If there is an unjust law, it is rational to try to change it. The Massachusetts LP just doesn’t seem interested in trying to change things for the better.

  16. Fred

    Andy,

    Why we are considering dis affiliation is really because many of us are recognizing that there is no real value in being associated with the national organization combined with the lack of faith that our representatives will be seated at convention.

    The only thing the national party can provide for us as a state affiliate is that we can send representatives to help choose a presidential candidate. At the point the national delegation chooses our representation (which they did at the last two conventions) we no longer have that voice.
    On the other hand if we disaffiliate we can still put the national candidate on the ballot in Oregon if we wish, but we aren’t obligated to choose the national candidate.
    Many of us would like a national party to partner with–but we aren’t interested in a national party to choose for us or rule us .

    The LPO is far from suicidal. It is recovering from its internal struggle, and it is the strongest I’ve seen it in the 30+ years since I first registered as a Libertarian on my first voter card.

  17. Pingback: Libertarian Party retains ballot access in 30 states following midterm election; best ever midterm result for LP, best of any alt party in 100 years | Official site of DJ Michael Heath

  18. paulie Post author

    Getting some god traffic off reddit if anyone wants to help promote it there:

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  19. paulie Post author

    Here is a map we are working on over at Design for Liberty that shows states where the LP retained presidential ballot access coming out of the midterm (gold) and did not (grey). Right now is the best time to talk to legislators about introducing bills before the legislative calendars fill up. 26 states have made ballot access improvements through legislative lobbying in recent years.

    We’re also looking for help in creating other graphics off this discussion, such as the year to comparison of how may states we retained after the midterm as some kind of bar graph and other such ideas. Let me know if anyone with design skills wants to help with that or other design projects for the LP.

    Also, if anyone has good ideas for stuff to share via the LP national facebook and twitter, both of which I can now post to.

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