Libertarian Party is Cautiously Optimistic About Having Qualified for Party Status in Maine

From Richard Winger at Ballot Access News:

Maine requires a group that wishes to be a ballot-qualified party to have at least 5,000 registered members by December 1 of the odd year before an election year. The only group that tried to use this procedure for 2016 is the Libertarian Party, which has been registering members all during 2015. The party has submitted 6,482 voter registration cards. The state will say on or before December 8 whether the party has enough registered members.

This registration procedure in Maine has only existed since 2013. The former procedure was very harsh; the old procedure required a petition of 5% of the last gubernatorial vote, and all the signers had to be registered voters who were not members of a qualified party. That procedure was so severe, it was only used twice, by the Reform Party in 1996 and Americans Elect in 2012. One reason the 2013 session of the legislature changed the procedure was because the Americans Elect experience showed how massively difficult the old procedure was. The old procedure had been created in 1976.

The Green Party is also ballot-qualified in Maine. It got that status by using the independent candidate procedure to place its gubernatorial nominee on the November ballot and then polling over 5% for Governor. The first time the Green Party did that was in 1994, when Jonathan Carter got 6.4%.

The only other time the Libertarian Party was a ballot-qualified party in Maine was in 1991 and 1992. It got that status by having an independent candidate poll over 5% for Governor. The independent, Andrew Adam, after the election was over, told the Secretary of State to assign his votes to the Libertarian Party.

8 thoughts on “Libertarian Party is Cautiously Optimistic About Having Qualified for Party Status in Maine

  1. Andy

    Since I am not aware of any actual Libertarians who worked on this drive, I’d be willing to bet that a higher percent than average of these registrations are what are known as soft registrations.

    A soft registration is a registration where the person is really not that committed to the party, and may not even really understand what the party is.

    A hard registration is a registration where the person is likely to vote Libertarian, and who may engage in Libertarian activism, and who actually understands what a Libertarian is.

    I bet a lot of the people just registered Libertarian because they stopped to sign the marijuana legalization petition, and I bet a lot of them have little understanding of what a Libertarian is.

    So the question is how many hard registrations vs soft registrations? I bet more are soft.

  2. Jed Ziggler Post author

    Well it will get them on the ballot, but if Andy’s theory is correct I doubt many of these new registrants will stick around. Which I’m guessing will mean the process will need to be repeated.

  3. Andy

    “Jed Ziggler Post author

    December 4, 2015 at 00:33

    Well it will get them on the ballot, but if Andy’s theory is correct I doubt many of these new registrants will stick around. Which I’m guessing will mean the process will need to be repeated.”

    Knowing what I know about how mercenary petition and voter registration drives operate, you can pretty much take it to the bank that this is the case, as in that more of these are soft registrations than hard registrations.

    Regardless of this, conducting voter registration drives is a function of a political party, and this is something that the Libertarian Party ought to do more of anyway.

    I would just encourage future Libertarian Party voter registration drives to only have Libertarians doing the work, and to put the focus on getting as high a percentage of the registrations collected as hard registration than soft registrations.

    The few times when I worked on Libertarian Party voter registration drives, I carried party literature with me that I gave out to just about everyone who registered (the only exceptions were the few people who didn’t want it, or who got away before I had a chance to offer it to them). I also encouraged people to visit the party’s website for more information.

    If you are taking the effort to do a voter registration drive, it strikes me as kind of a waste to not try to get as many hard registrations as possible, as opposed to just filling your registration rolls with soft registrations.

    A good example of a party with a lot of soft registrations is the American Independent Party in California. I have worked on a lot of petition and registration drives in California, and I can tell you that only a very small percentage of people who are registered to vote under the American Independent Party banner have any clue as to what that party is. The majority of their registered voters thought that checking their party box on the registration form meant that they were registering as independents. If they wanted to be registered as an independent, as in with no political party, they were supposed to check the Decline To State A Political Party box.

    The American Independent Party has lots of registered voters in California, but the vast majority of them are soft registrations, which means that they have little real support.

  4. Andy

    Whenever you conduct a partisan voter registration drive, you are going to get some soft registrations and some hard registrations, but the key is, or should be, to get as high a percentage as you can of the registrations be hard registrations.

    It is more difficult to get a hard registration than it is to get a soft registration, because you have to actually give people a more detailed explanation as to what a Libertarian is, and it helps if you provide them with some party literature that they can take with them.

    A soft registration collection looks more like this: “Hey man, sign this petition to legalize weed.” Then as the person is signing, “Hey man, can you fill this out for me too (points to voter registration card)? This is for a party that wants to legalize weed.”

    So the person walks away thinking that they just signed something to legalize marijuana, which they did, but not knowing much about the party banner which they just registered under. They may even hold a bunch of anti-libertarian views on other issues.

    Collecting hard registrations takes more finesse, and is really only something that is going to be done by people who are actually Libertarians themselves, and not just some mercenary who is out to make a buck.

    This is not to say that a mercenary can’t get a hard Libertarian registration, as they could encounter somebody who already self identifies as a libertarian, but who just is not registered to vote as a libertarian, but given that I have been on the ground working on petition and voter registration drives for over 15 years and in 33 states, I know how these mercenary registration drives operate. Let’s just say that they are generally pretty short on substance or any kind of activism beyond doing the bare minimum to get people to sign.

    So given that I don’t think that any actual Libertarians worked on this registration drive, and given what I know about how mercenaries operate, I’d be willing to bet that a higher percent of these registrations are soft registrations than hard registrations than if all of the work had been done by actual Libertarians.

    If you are conducting a voter registration drive, you are invariably going to get some soft registrations, but the goal should be to get as many hard registrations as possible along with the soft registrations. Hard registrations can equal more people voting for your candidates, more party members, and more activists. Soft registrations can get you on the ballot in some states, and that’s nice, but it does not indicate a lot of strong supporters.

  5. Jed Ziggler Post author

    I once worked with a kid who registered as Green. I don’t often meet other minor party activists in real life, so I tried talking with him about what attracted him to the Green Party. His reasoning: green is his favorite color. He’s actually a conservative, about the only issue he agreed with the Greens on was marijuana legalization.

  6. Andy

    “Jed Ziggler Post author

    December 4, 2015 at 01:04

    I once worked with a kid who registered as Green. I don’t often meet other minor party activists in real life, so I tried talking with him about what attracted him to the Green Party. His reasoning: green is his favorite color. He’s actually a conservative, about the only issue he agreed with the Greens on was marijuana legalization.”

    LOL!!!

    This reminds me of several years back when I worked on a Libertarian Party petition drive in Nebraska. We had been told that we could have people who were not registered to vote fill out voter registrations forms, and then they could sign our petitions, and the signature would count, assuming that the registration was filled out properly, so long as we turned it in before we turned in the petition signatures.

    There was a party on the ballot in Nebraska at that time called the Nebraska Party. They were actually the Nebraska affiliate of the Constitution Party, but for some reason they called themselves the Nebraska Party. Anyway, I had a few people check that box on their voter registration form, and just because I was curious, I asked them why they checked the Nebraska Party box. The answers I got were along the lines of, “Well, I like Nebraska football.” or, “Because I was born and raised in Nebraska.” LOL! Talk about soft registrations!

  7. Xcommunic8

    The person who controls the LP knows how stupid people are. He knows how stupid voters are, and he knows how stupid LP members are. The LP is not a threat to the establishment in any way. In fact, the LP is a friend of the establishment. It’s controlled opposition.

    The money spent in Maine could have been spent on hard registrations. There are plenty of people who are unemployed who are willing to gather hard registrations. The LP doesn’t want hard registrations. It wants to keep itself between life and death, barely alive.

    If you’re barely alive, you’re not organized enough to win a single office of any importance.

    Oh, sure, a few people who are good at winning office locally might get elected, even without any help (monetarily or strategically) from National. …But there won’t be any organized Libertarian groundswell without someone doing the organizing.

    It doesn’t take much money or skill to get someone elected, but it does take some money and skill. Ten years ago, it might have even been possible to take over a state legislature. That was the right time.

    However, by this time, it’s pretty clear: the LP is a “black box” that gives the local History buff a supper club to meet with so he can feel important, as if his ideas matter.

    Sure, they’re good ideas. They once made the USA the wealthiest nation on the planet with no near competition.

    When you throw out your brain, it’s amazing how quickly the competition catches up.

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