Most states enable a group that is not yet a qualified party, but which wants to become a qualified party, to circulate a petition that has the sole function of qualifying that group as a party. Such petitions are commonly called “party petitions”, and do not carry the names of any candidates.
Unfortunately, eleven states don’t have such “party petitions”, or any other procedure for turning a group into a qualified party in advance of any election. These eleven “bad” states force a group to circulate a candidate petition. If the candidate polls enough votes, then the group becomes a qualified party.
In these states that require candidate petitions to be circulated, it is generally legal for a group that wishes to start before it has chosen its presidential nominee to show a stand-in presidential candidate on the petition. Then, when the party chooses its actual presidential candidate, the stand-in withdraws and the group is permitted to substitute the name of the actual candidate.
Minor parties with experience understand this, and generally choose a stand-in presidential candidate. The Constitution Party has already chosen its stand-in presidential candidate. He is Jim Clymer, the party’s national chair, and already petitions with his name are being prepared for the Constitution Party of West Virginia, which wants to begin petitioning very soon.