2016 National Presidential Ballot Access Requirements are Lower than in 2012

The ballot access requirements for the presidential election of 2016 can now be estimated. Many states determine the number of signatures needed to get on the ballot for an upcoming election based on the number of votes cast in the preceding election. Now that the November 2014 election is over, it is possible to know approximately what the 2016 requirements will be.

In some states, the number of signatures for a newly-qualifying party and the number of signatures for an independent presidential candidate are identical. In some states, the number of signatures for a newly-qualifying party is a larger number than the number needed for an independent presidential candidates, and in other states, the reverse is true, and the requirement is easier for a newly-qualifying party than an independent.

If a presidential candidate, running outside the two major parties, chooses the easier of the two methods (new party or independent) in each state, he or she will only need approximately 579,000 valid signatures (or registrants into a party) to get on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. That number will change if the 2015 state legislatures change any ballot access laws. Bills to lower the number of signatures are expected in Alabama, Georgia, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and probably other states.

One ambiguity in the calculation is that it is not always obvious which method (new party or independent) is easier. It is particularly tough to decide this for California. Independent presidential candidates will need 178,039 signatures by mid-August 2016. Newly-qualifying parties that wish to participate only in the presidential election will need approximately 61,000 registrants by mid-July 2016. The calculation showing the 2016 requirement is 579,000 supporters assumes that the California registration method is easier, because the number is so much lower. But if one assumes that the independent petition is truly the easier method, then the national figure becomes 696,000.

The national 2012 figure, using the California independent petition procedure was 722,076.

One reason the 2016 requirements are easier than the 2012 requirements is that Virginia lowered its petition requirement from 10,000 to 5,000 in 2013, and California lowered the new party registration method from about 104,000 to about 61,000 in 2014. Another reason the requirements are lower is that the 2014 turnout in most states was very low.


2016 National Presidential Ballot Access Requirements are Lower than in 2012 — 7 Comments

  1. Hoping and praying that Alabama will come around in 2015 to lowering the existing requirements, but not holding my breath.

    It is hard to believe that recently as in the 1970s, Alabama only required a 3rd party to be organized for ballot access, then could use the Convention method (or some version thereof) to nominate a slate of candidates including presidential electors.

    Today, as Richard can attest, Alabama is one of the harshest states for both 3rd parties and Independent candidates. This harshness started with the Democrats and the Republicans have continued to uphold it.

    The Alabama GOP argues we should find our political salvation within the Republican Primary. Yet, if someone enters such primary who is not a Republican without spot or blemish, they can be denied further participation. The Democrats are no different.

    I call upon all Alabama 3rd partisans and Independents to put aside any philosophical differences, and join together and put pressure on Montgomery to give us ballot equality.

  2. If the shenanigans that went down this year are any indication, it’s going to be a hard fight indeed to get any third party candidates on the ballot for President here in Illinois. If Rauner is still governor in 2016 (he and his cronies should be on trial for voter intimidation by now after what happened to the Libertarians, but alas, they’re not) we might even get more armed thugs, uh I mean “private investigators”, coming to our doors or worse. Him and Madigan calling the shots in Illinois is the epitome of all things unholy and horrific towards democratic elections and decency in general. But we, especially the Green and Libertarian Parties, aren’t going to back down without an all out effort to thwart them and get on the ballot, that I am sure of.

  3. Every Illinois minor party and independent movement activist should be asking Illinois state legislators, or state legislators-elect, to introduce bills to ease the ballot access requirements. This is the time to do it. If people think it’s hopeless, then we have defeated ourselves. In particular, a bill to lower the vote test for qualified status from 5% to 2% would make sense. The Wisconsin vote test is 1%, Indiana is 2%, Kentucky is 2%, Missouri is 2%, Iowa is 2%. Illinois had a 2% vote test between 1891 and 1931. If the vote test were 2%, in time it would be normal for the Green, Constitution and Libertarian Parties to be ballot-qualified, and all concerns about “spoiling” would be eased, because the system would be balanced. Michigan and Wisconsin almost always have those three parties on the ballot in every election and there are no screams about spoiling in those states.

  4. Every election is NEW — regardless of ALL of the super MORON SCOTUS ballot access cases since 1968.

    The STUPIDITY of the robot party hacks on SCOTUS about BASIC stuff has been super-dangerous for many decades.

  5. This is an interesting summary, but it’s very unlikely that anybody would use the true-independent/new-party mechanism in all 50 states in 2016. Ross Perot would be the only one to have ever accomplished that, correct?

    So, subtracting the states where ballot status has been secured for [insert party], and thus have automatic or easier Presidential ballot status, what is the path to 50+DC looking like for the major minor parties? For example, here in Wisconsin the LP (and GP and CP) just earned automatic pres. access, vs. 10,000 signatures for an independent nomination.

    I’m assuming the LP will have the easiest time of it, but I’ve said before that “the L.P. is the only third party party with a reasonable chance at 50-state Presidential ballot access in 2016.” and I’m curious if that is still true.

  6. Richard, On Sat and Sun, C-span will show Bob LaFollette. He ran third party in 1924.

  7. Another good website is ballotpedia.com. Many primaries just have filing fees. An independent can get on 1/4 of the states with about 30,000 signatures.

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