North Dakota Libertarians Easily Poll Enough Primary Votes to Qualify for November Ballot

North Dakota holds primaries for all qualified parties, and no one running for statewide office can appear on the ballot in November if he or she ran in the primary and failed to get at least 300 primary votes. All three Libertarians running for statewide office in the June 10, 2014 primary have between 900 and 1,050 votes, even though as of this writing, only two-thirds of the precincts have reported. This is the first time any minor party candidates will have exceeded 1,000 votes in a North Dakota primary in the last 40 years. Here is a link to the election returns from the Secretary of State’s web page.

It isn’t easy for minor party candidates in North Dakota to poll many votes in the primary, because a voter who chooses the minor party primary is then unable to vote in a major party primary.


North Dakota Libertarians Easily Poll Enough Primary Votes to Qualify for November Ballot — No Comments

  1. North Dakota uses a pick-a-party primary, where all parties appear on the same ballot, with a voter restricted to voting for only candidates of a single party (any cross-over votes invalidate the ballot). Formally, the party qualifying petition is to secure a column on the primary ballot.

    This year there were no contested statewide nominations, and contested legislative nominations in only 4 of 24 legislative districts. North Dakota elects one senator and two representatives from each legislative district, but only half the legislative districts are contested every two years.

    A contested representative nomination would be a district with 3 or more candidates, seeking the two nominations. There were only 4 such districts, 3 with 3 Republicans, and 1 with 3 Democrats.

    This was a close to an ideal situation for a 3rd party since there wouldn’t be the temptation for a voter to vote in a contested race for another party. There was also no senate or gubernatorial race.

  2. Yes, but exactly because there was no US Senate race, and no gubernatorial race, also could have hurt the Libertarian Party, because the number of votes the Libertarians needed in the primary isn’t a percentage of turnout, it is an absolute number, so low turnout was potentially a big problem. And there was low turnout, for the reasons you mention.

    It appears 2% of the primary voters chose a Libertarian ballot. That is close to a record for a minor party in an open primary. Even the Progressive Party of Vermont doesn’t get that much turnout in its primaries. However, the Independence Party of Minnesota got 3% in the 1998 primary.

  3. It is misleading to say that voters chose a Libertarian ballot. Voters chose to use their pencil in the Libertarian section of the ballot. Voting machines are required to block cross-voting, so you simply need to get voters to select Libertarian.

    Local races are non-partisan and on a separate ballot.

    In 2012, there was a contested Republican senate race, and 28-year incumbent Kent Conrad had retired. The Republicans assumed that the primary was choosing the next senator. Libertarian candidates were under 100 votes. In 2010, there was a contested Republican primary for congress, and the Libertarians candidates had around 500 votes.

    About 1/3 of the Libertarian votes were in Cass County (Fargo) though it has around 1/6 of the population, so there may have been a concerted effort to get voters to vote Libertarian. A curious referendum in Cass County was the selection of the official paper for the county, which pitted the daily paper with a weekly paper. It would be interesting if this was somehow tangled up in partisan politics.

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