From Marc Kilmer at The Arkansas Project:
The Libertarian Party of Arkansas is suing the state over new requirements for selecting candidates in 2016. The party contends that the state’s requirement to name their nominees over a year before the election harms their electoral efforts.
I don’t know about the specific merits of this case. Those are for a judge to decide. However, there is ample evidence that states routinely make it difficult for third parties to have access to the ballot. From onerous signature requirements to selective enforcement of the law, minor parties face numerous obstacles in placing their candidates before the voters. The Democrats and Republicans don’t like to see other candidates on the ballot who may pull votes away from the major party candidates. And it’s Democratic and Republican elected officials who ultimately control access to the ballot.
Here’s how Elizabeth Nolan Brown of Reason magazine describes the problems facing the Libertarian Party (and other third parties):
People like to suggest that the reason Libertarian Party candidates have so little electoral success is because libertarianism is a philosophy that simply doesn’t resonate with very many people. But all too frequently, libertarians are unable to even get on the ballot to begin with—not for a lack of supporters but owing to either direct meddling, as in this instance, or ballot-access rules deliberately designed to keep third parties at bay.
Ballot access laws are not the only obstacles that unfairly hamper third-party candidates. Campaign finance laws, for instance, prevent a single person or small group of people from using their wealth to fund a candidate. This is not as big a deal to those who can rely on partisan organizations, but it hurts those who need funding to collect signatures and undertake other activities to get on the ballot and get noticed. At the federal level, presidential debates almost never feature third-party candidates. The collusion of Democrats and Republicans has been effective in ensuring that the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party, the Green Party, and other small parties have numerous obstacles to face in their quest to break into voters’ consciousness.