Despite some gains in the 2022 midterms, recent attacks on alternative parties in some states and internal dissension in others put the Libertarian Party at risk of not being able to attain 50-state ballot access for its Presidential candidate for the first time since 2012. Compared to this time four years ago, the LP has two more states that will require significant petition efforts, including daunting requirements in New York, thanks to the high barriers put in place by now-disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo not long before he had to leave office. The states with competing organizations are an additional distraction that was not present in the last presidential election cycle.
Placing the Libertarian nominee for President on every ballot in 2024 is not impossible but will require considerable unified effort and focus that may not materialize within the current contentious environment. This author encourages anyone wishing to support ballot access to contact state party organizations to offer volunteer and/or financial assistance.
Party/major party status states in alphabetical order:
Alaska — There are a sufficient number of voters in Alaska registered as Libertarians to maintain party recognition.
Colorado — With very healthy numbers of registered Libertarians, the LPCO is assured of a line on the ballot.
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 2024.
Iowa — Rick Stewart’s gubernatorial campaign received enough votes in 2020 to gain recognition for LPIA.
Kansas — Several statewide candidates received more than enough votes in 2022 to maintain status for the LPKS.
Maryland — The LPMD gubernatorial election ticket of David Lashar and Christiana Logansmith received enough votes to maintain ballot access in the Old Line State.
Missouri — State Auditor candidate John Hartwig, Jr. polled enough votes to maintain party recognition through 2024.
Montana — The LP is recognized in Big Sky Country. However, there is a bill in the state Legislature that, if passed, would enact a Top Two primary for the 2024 US Senate race. This is clearly designed to prevent a Libertarian candidate from being on the November ballot in that election.
Nebraska — With well over ten thousand registered Libertarians, the party is in good shape to maintain party recognition in the Cornhusker State.
Nevada — Ken Cavanaugh in CD1 and Daryl Baber in CD2 both received over 1% to maintain ballot status for Libertarians in the Silver State.
North Carolina — There are multiple paths to retain ballot status in the Tar Heel State, and the LP is well situated to continue maintaining recognition.
Oklahoma — In the Sooner State, the LP has ballot access through 2026. With a result of 2.5% or better in one of the two 2024 statewide races (President and Corporation Commissioner), it will extend to 2028.
South Carolina — Palmetto State Libertarians retain ballot access by continuing to meet organizational requirements.
South Dakota — Multiple LPSD candidates received greater than 2.5% of the vote in statewide elections in 2022, maintaining party status.
Utah — Michael Stoddard’s showing in the US Senate race was better than the 2% threshold for US House races, keeping the LP on the ballot in the Beehive State.
West Virginia — Erika Kolenich’s 2020 result for Governor is the determining factor in maintaining the Mountaineer LP’s ballot status.
Wisconsin — Neil Harmon’s result in the Secretary of State race more than doubled the percentage necessary to hold on to recognition for the LPWI.
Inequitable recognition states in order of burden:
Florida — The only inequitable provision is the minor party designation in the Sunshine State and LPF candidate filing requirements are the same as those of major parties.
Vermont — The Green Mountain State has organizational requirements that, once met, will result in minor party status.
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.
Oregon — Jo Jorgensen’s 1.75% result in 2020 maintained minor status for the LP in the Beaver State, all candidates must be nominated by convention.
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 5% of the total in the state.
California — Presidential access is secure, but the state’s Top Two primary system is a de facto barrier to the November ballot in partisan races for any alternative candidate.
Connecticut — As a recognized minor party in the Nutmeg State, LPCT will be able to place a presidential candidate on the November ballot.
Delaware — The First State requires 0.1% of registered voters to affiliate with a party for it to attain minor status and the privilege of placing a nominee for president on the November ballot. The Delaware LP has about ten times that many.
Wyoming — Richard Brubaker for US House and Jared Baldes for Governor both achieved greater than 2% of the vote, allowing the LP to continue with minor party status. 10% is required to be considered a major party.
Indiana — Jeff Maurer received 5.7% 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.
Arizona — By having enough registered voters to meet the requirement, the Arizona LP continues to be a recognized political party. However, several years ago, 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 its presidential candidate on the ballot but for any other candidate, it is very difficult.
Minnesota — The LP holds minor party status in Minnesota, which means that every candidate, including the presidential nominee, will need to petition. The Gopher State legislature is likely to pass a bill doubling the number of votes necessary to achieve major party status.
Georgia — The LP has status as a political body, allowing placement of nominees in statewide races, including for the presidency, but each candidate for any district office must meet the same prohibitive petition requirement as an Independent. No alternative candidate has ever been able to meet the provisions of the current law, enacted in 1943, to be placed on the ballot for US House in the Peach State.
Texas — The LP is a recognized minor party in the Lone Star but will need to have a candidate receive at least 5% of the vote in a statewide race to keep that status. Additionally, there is pending legislation that, if passed, would require all parties to nominate by primary for 2024. In Texas, parties must organize and pay for the primary process themselves and then be reimbursed, which would be a massive barrier for LPTX to overcome. This follows on to a previous effort to require filing fees from parties that nominate by convention, which is the current subject of litigation. The state legislature also seeks to double those filing fees and the number of signatures required to place an unaffiliated candidate on the ballot.
Lenient no status states:
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, requiring signatures of 800 voters, is quite attainable.
Rhode Island — The signature requirement to gain status for a new political party is much higher than the 1,000 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.
District of Columbia — Having lost status after no LP candidate received the necessary 7,500 votes for any office in the midterms, it will be necessary to gather signatures from 1% of DC voters to get our presidential candidate on the ballot.
Restrictive no status states in order of burden:
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 2024 presidential candidate in Tennessee.
Washington — Candidates may file and use the Libertarian label for all partisan offices, except President, but the undemocratic Top-Two primary system used in the state makes it exceedingly difficult for any alternative candidate to get on the general election ballot. A 1,000 signature petition will be necessary to get the LP presidential nominee on in 2024.
Kentucky — Lacking recognition as a political organization in the Bluegrass State means LPKY will need to gather 5,000 signatures to place a nominee on the presidential ballot.
Pennsylvania — LP candidates in the Keystone State did not meet the vote test for party status in 2022, but all candidates have the same petition requirement regardless of party and can use a partisan label. A petition of 5,000 signatures will be necessary to place a presidential candidate on the ballot.
North Dakota — The NDLP will need to petition, either by seeking party recognition with 7,000 signatures or gathering 4,000 signatures to only get a presidential candidate on the ballot through the Independent process.
Ohio — The Ohio LP will need to gather either 40,435 signatures to attain minor party status that will require 3% or better in the presidential race to maintain recognition or gather 5,000 signatures to get the LP nominee on the ballot via the independent process.
Maine — Legal action resulted in LPME being reinstated through 2022 but they have until January of 2024 to reach 5,000 registered voters affiliated as Libertarian in order to retain their status. If they are unable to accomplish this a petition of 4,000 signatures will be required for the presidential nominee of the LP to be on the ballot.
Virginia — No alternative party is recognized in the Commonwealth as it requires getting 10% in a statewide race. A petition of 10,000 signatures is necessary for party status or 5,000 to get the presidential nominee on the ballot through the Independent process. Libertarians in the Old Dominion have also experienced their state party organization dissolving itself last fall and then being reformed.
Arkansas — Despite the recent legal victory in the Natural State, keeping ballot access is difficult as a party’s gubernatorial or presidential nominee must receive 3% of the vote to maintain status. No alternative candidate has hit that mark since Ross Perot of the Reform Party in 1996. LPAR will need to petition and gather 10,000 signatures.
Illinois — The Prairie State has byzantine ballot access laws at all levels that work to restrict participation and will force the LP to gather 25,000 signatures in addition to requirements for individual candidates.
New York — Prior to being driven from office by scandal, Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed through draconian increases to ballot access requirements. Attaining a ballot line for the LP presidential candidate in the Empire State will require gathering 45,000 signatures in a six-week period and in order to be recognized as a party, that presidential candidate will need to receive at least 2% of the vote. The Independent route is more expedient but will still require 15,000 signatures.
Alabama — After turning in around 80,000 signatures to gain ballot access for 2020, no statewide LPAL candidate met the 20% threshold to hold on to party recognition. Another massive petition effort for party status may be undertaken, or a petition of 5,000 signatures to get the LP nominee on the 2024 ballot as an Independent may be sought.
Internal dissension states:
Massachusetts — Cristina Crawford’s 23.4% result for State Treasurer means that the LP is a major party in the Bay State. However, there are two organizations claiming to be the state’s Libertarian Party which may result in conflict over who has the privilege of placing a presidential candidate on the ballot there. This won’t matter for other partisan races as Massachusetts is a primary state and candidates need only be appropriately registered and properly submit their filing paperwork and nominating petitions.
New Mexico — The LP maintains major party status but this is another state where there are competing entities, with the LNC taking sides in promoting a newly created organization. Conflict as to who may place the nominee on the presidential ballot may arise. While New Mexico is a primary state, a method of convention nomination does exist and it potentially could be put to use as a tactic in the factional dispute in the Land of Enchantment.
Michigan — The LP has minor party status, affording the privilege of placing a presidential nominee on the ballot, but there is dispute regarding the officers of the Michigan affiliate as well as a trademark lawsuit being pursued by the national party organization.
New Hampshire — The LP is not recognized in the Granite State and will need to gather 3,000 signatures to place a candidate on the presidential ballot. However, there were competing factions that placed candidates on the ballot in 2022 via the independent process. How matters will play out for the 2024 presidential campaign is likely to depend on how these groups choose to proceed.
Many state election authorities offer clear and detailed information online about the ballot status of political parties, the steps to attain recognition, and the procedures for candidates to have their names placed on the ballot. Many states have websites that are less informative. This article would undoubtedly have been more onerous and less accurate without being able to rely on Ballotpedia and especially Ballot Access News. If you care about ballot access, you are strongly encouraged to consider subscribing to Ballot Access News.
After receiving feedback, the information presented for Michigan and the District of Columbia has been edited to more accurately reflect the present situation.
The LNC has minimal debt and is no where near bankruptcy.
Thank you, Richard and Nathan, for your assistance.
Ballot access is a pain in the ass when there is only one statewide race on the ballot (specifically the presidential race). The last time a lone statewide race was on the ballot in Illinois, it was a U.S. Senate race, and even that drive was a struggle.
Given that the LNC is drowning in debt and is literally next to bankrupt, they’re only going to target the low-hanging fruit…and that’s assuming those states don’t end up disaffiliating from this joke of a LNC.
There is only one affiliate in Michigan. The dispute is over who actually is in charge of that affiliate.
There is also a not-quite-recent LNC report. On that one, I am really pleased to note that the report on Massachusetts is actually correct, presenting the non-litigation approach, a situation that has not always been true in recently years. Non-litigation: Collect 50 signatures for minor party status for some party name (not legally required for the other step, but it helps in some ways), and 10,000 signatures to put the Presidential candidate on the ballot. Party name? At a guess, United Libertarians.
Thank you for getting all this information together.
Chris, in Oregon, minor parties do not participate in the State-run primary. The LPO’s primary elections over the past decade have been privately funded and conducted mail ballots. The Presidential nominee is handled with the same nomination paperwork as candidates for other offices.
The District of Columbia petition for presidential nominees of unqualified parties is 1% of the number of registered voters (about 5,100), not 1,000. We are trying to persuade the DC city council to lower that requirement, which is harsher than the presidential procedures (using the easier method) of any state, when percentages are compared. The Rhode Island procedures for 1,000 signatures does permit a party label. In 2022 the Pennsylvania Libertarian Party did poll enough votes to meet the state’s cramped definition of a party, but because it doesn’t have 15% of the registration it must petition as though it weren’t a qualified party. In Virginia there is no party procedure. All Virginia has is candidate petitions, with 5,000 for president and 10,000 for other statewide office.
Thank you, Kyle. It looks like the source I referenced has incomplete data. I do note than in 2016 the Oregon LP held a mail-in presidential primary. Does LPO have the same legal status to have a presidential primary as the establishment parties?
The LPNM has disaffiliated itself from the current LNC. There really is very little the LNC can do although they have launched another affiliate with a similar name. If the presidential ticket is a truly libertarian one I suspect there will be no problem in New Mexico. If the nominees are not… well then different story.
In Oregon, minor parties can also get ballot access by a threshold number of registered voters, and the LPO has met that threshold for many years. Additionally, we have nominated by election (not convention) for the last decade. The law requiring nomination by convention is unconstitutional and is not enforced.