The Washington Secretary of State has submitted a proposed bill to the legislature, which makes many technical changes. Among them is a clearer definition of “major political party.” Existing law says a “major political party” is on the ballot automatically for President, whereas other parties must submit 1,000 signatures. Existing law also says a “major political party” is one whose nominee for any statewide office at the last election polled at least 5% of the vote.
Because parties in Washington no longer have nominees, except for President and Vice-President, the Libertarian Party last year filed a lawsuit, charging that the Republican Party was no longer a qualified major party after the November 2010 election because it had no nominees for a statewide office in 2010. The only statewide partisan office up in 2010 was U.S. Senate. A lower state court ruled that the Republican Party did have a nominee in 2010, because the state party had endorsed one particular individual, and therefore the Republican Party was still a qualified major party.
The proposed bill re-defines “major political party” to be one that polled 5% for President. When a party meets that vote test, it keeps that status for four years. The bill will probably exist with its own bill number next week.