See also a State-by-State Outline of Presidential Candidate Ballot Access.

Arizona

Under the laws of the State of Arizona, a new political party may become eligible for recognition in Arizona and be represented by an official party ballot at the next ensuing regular primary election upon filing the requisite number of petition signatures with the Secretary of State. New political parties which have met the statutory petition requirements are entitled to representation on the official ballot through the next two regularly-scheduled General Elections for federal offices.

In order to be recognized by the State of Arizona, a political party must submit to the Secretary of State at least 31,686 valid voter signatures as of this writing.

Arkansas

In the State of Arkansas, a Political Party is defined as a group of voters which in the previous General Election earned 3% of the vote for Governor or President, or a group which has filed with the Arkansas Secretary of State a petition containing 3% of the total votes cast for the Office of Governor in the previous General Election for Governor. For the 2020 Election, this 3% figure comes out to 26,757 votes or signatures (3% of the 2018 vote for Governor).

When any party fails to obtain 3% of the total votes cast at an election for Governor or President, it will cease to be recognized as a political party.

Colorado

In 2019, Colorado erected higher barriers to forming new political parties in the state, still allowing third party candidates to achieve official recognition for their organization from the state by petitioning onto the General Election ballot, but raising the statewide signature requirements from 1,000 total to 1,000 per each of the state’s seven Congressional Districts. Similarly, petition signature requirements for US Representative (petitioning onto the ballot as a US Representative is another road to official party recognition in Colorado) went from 800 to 1,500.

Minor political parties can still achieve more immediate recognition from Colorado by accruing 10,000 petition signatures as a party.

Connecticut

Connecticut law defines a Minor Party as a party or organization whose candidate for the office in question received at the last regular election for that office at least 1% of the votes cast for all candidates for such office at that election.

A Minor Party must first field that Candidate with a Nominating Petition. As of 2020, disregarding temporary 30% reductions in signature requirements, Connecticut, for example, requires 7,500 signatures to a place a Minor Party Candidate for President on Connecticut’s statewide ballot.

Delaware

According to Ballotpedia, a party will be listed on the Delaware General Election ballot once 0.1% of total registered Delaware voters as of the end of December of the year prior to the election have affiliated with that party no later than three weeks before the primary election. (According to the State of Delaware Department of Elections, there were 720,193 total registered voters in the State as of April 2020, so 0.1% comes out to 721 voters.) A voter writes in their voter affiliation on the registration form.

As long as a party’s voter registration totals at least that 0.1 percent each year, the party will remain a recognized minor party. To become a major party, at least 5 percent of all registered voters in the State of Delaware (36,010 as of this writing) must affiliate with the party by the end of December of the year before the election.

Florida

To be recognized as a minor party in Florida, a group consisting of more than one person must file a certificate and copies of the minor party’s constitution, bylaws, regulations, and rules with the Florida Division of Elections.

Hawaii

Those wishing to form a new political party in the State of Hawaii have to submit a petition with not less than 1/10 of 1% of the total number of registered voters in the State, which as of this writing is 756,751 voters and therefore 757 signatures.

The deadline to file the petition signatures is in February of the election year in question. To remain on the ballot for the election after that, the party must have a candidate running for any statewide or US Representative contest whose terms had expired (in other words, this doesn’t include offices which are vacant because the incumbent has died or has resigned before the end of their term).

In addition, the new party must also meet one of the following to maintain ballot access for the next election:

Received at least 10% of votes cast for one of the following contests for an expired term:

  • Any statewide contest
  • US Representative, District 1
  • US Representative, District 2

Received at least 4% of votes cast for all State Senate contests

Received at least 4% of votes cast for all State Representative contests

Received at least 2% of all the votes cast for all State Senate and State Representative contests combined statewide

However, even if the new party does not obtain any of the above vote counts, it may still continue to petition onto the ballot again each election cycle, and be granted a 10-year grace period after successfully petitioning three times in a row, assuming it continues to field candidates.

Iowa

To be officially recognized by the State of Iowa as a political party, a non-party political organization (NPPO) must field a candidate for US President or State Governor, and that candidate must receive at least 2% of the total votes cast in their race. In order to maintain party status, that party’s candidates for President or Governor must keep receiving at least 2 percent of the total votes cast in each general election. 

Kentucky

An organization is recognized as a Political Party by the State of Kentucky when it receives at least 20% of the Presidential vote and as a “Political Organization” when it receives at least 2% of the same vote (the organization’s Presidential Candidate must first petition onto Kentucky’s statewide General Election ballot with at least 5,000 signatures, as of 2020).

Maryland

The State of Maryland defines a political party as “an organized group of voters [who want] to influence government by electing [their] own candidates to public office”.

To form a political party in the State of Maryland, a group must file a petition with 10,000 valid voter signatures (apparently before January 1st of the Election Year in question). To retain party status, however, either one of the party’s candidates must poll 1% of the entire statewide vote in the next General Election or at least 1% of the State’s registered voters must be affiliated with the party by year’s end. If neither criteria are met, the party must petition for recognition again.

Massachusetts

In addition to its four officially recognized parties, the State of Massachusetts allows certain “legal political designations” for voters (currently numbering 26 as of this writing). According to Wikipedia, only 50 Massachusetts voters are needed for a party to receive a Massachusetts political designation.

New Hampshire

The State of New Hampshire recognizes any political party which received at least 4% of the total votes cast for Governor or United States Senator in the last General Election.

New Jersey

In the State of New Jersey, for a “designated group” to “qualify for political party recognition” its candidates must collectively earn 10% of the total statewide vote for Members of the General Assembly; in 2019 10% of the statewide total was 162,383. Currently only the Democratic and Republican parties qualify as parties in the State of New Jersey.

New Mexico

As of June 25th, a Minor Party may petition onto that year’s ballot with 0.5% of the last statewide Gubernatorial vote (3,483 signatures).

Pennsylvania

In the State of Pennsylvania, a statewide political party is any party or political body who fielded at least one candidate who polled at least 2% of the largest vote for any office in the last General Election in at least 10 counties, and polled a total statewide vote of at least 2% of the largest entire vote cast in the State for any elected candidate.

Tennessee

A new party in the State of Tennessee may form by gathering petition signatures equal to 2.5% of the last Gubernatorial vote in the state (33,844 signatures as of last count, per the State Secretary of State’s website).

To be recognized as a statewide minor party for a general election, the petition must be filed no later than 12 noon 90 days prior to the date on which the general election is to be held (in other words, in early August of the election year in question).

Texas

A new party in the State of Texas may nominate candidates either by convention or primary election, if the party’s nominee for Governor received at least 2% of the total number of votes in the last Gubernatorial election. In turn, in order to place their Gubernatorial candidate on the ballot, the party must organize precinct convention participants and submit signed petitions equal to 1% of the vote from the previous Gubernatorial election (and 1% of the 2018 Texas vote for Governor equals 83,435).

Utah

A party in Utah may gather 2,000 voter signatures by the December before the next election year to gain official recognition in time for that election, and thereafter at least one of its candidates must win at least 2% of the US House vote for the entire state (22,284 votes in the 2016 election cycle) in order for the party to maintain its status.

Vermont

“In Vermont, political parties must reorganize in September of every odd-numbered year.” For a Minor Party to be recognized in the State of Vermont, it must be organized in at least 10 towns by means of a Caucus between September 10th and September 30th (Major Parties must be organized in at least 30 towns and 7 counties).

Virginia

The Virginia Department of Elections puts it bluntly: “Virginia recognizes only two political parties: Democrats and Republicans”. The State of Virginia requires all other party organizations to register as Political Action Committees, which only require one person to form.

A third party may be considered a “third party political organization” by the State of Virginia if the organization:
• Has a state central committee composed of registered voters from all 11 Congressional Districts in the State
• Has a party plan and bylaws
• Has a duly designated Chairperson and Secretary in existence and holding office for at least six months prior to filing the pages for petitions
to nominate a Presidential candidate

Washington State

A Minor Party in the State of Washington is any political party or organization whose nominees for President and Vice President failed to receive at least 5% of the total votes cast in the last Presidential Election. Washington State does not require prior registration of a political party. Completion of the Presidential candidate nomination process grants a new political party official recognition.

West Virginia

In the State of West Virginia, a group of citizens may gain party recognition by having a Gubernatorial Candidate earn 1% of the total votes cast for Governor in the most recent election.

Officially recognized political parties may nominate candidates for the General Election by either participating in the Primary Election or by holding a nominating convention.

Wyoming

Any group of persons desiring to form a new political party in the State of Wyoming must file a petition with Wyoming’s Secretary of State no later than June 1st in any General Election year in which the party seeks to qualify for the General Election ballot.

In 2020, the petition must contain the valid signatures of 4,025 registered Wyoming voters (1% of those who last voted for Wyoming’s At-Large US Representative in a General Election).

Sources:

  1. https://azsos.gov/elections/information-about-recognized-political-parties
  2. https://www.sos.arkansas.gov/uploads/2019_Running_for_Public_Office_FINAL.pdf
  3. https://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/Candidates/FAQs/QPOandMinorParty.html
  4. https://portal.ct.gov/SOTS/Election-Services/Political-PartiesTown-Committe-Rules/Minor-Parties-in-Connecticut
  5. https://ballotpedia.org/Ballot_access_requirements_for_political_parties_in_Delaware
  6. https://ballotpedia.org/Ballot_access_requirements_for_political_parties_in_Florida#Political_parties
  7. https://elections.hawaii.gov/political-parties/qualification/
  8. https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/electioninfo/formpoliticalparty.html
  9. https://elect.ky.gov/Candidates/Pages/Qualifications-and-Filing-Fees.aspx
  10. https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/law/statutes/statute.aspx?id=27559
  11. https://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/40party/html/parties.html
  12. https://elections.maryland.gov/petitions/new_party_petitions.html
  13. https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/elepar/paridx.htm
  14. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_parties_and_political_designations_in_Massachusetts
  15. https://sos.nh.gov/VotePartyPrimFAQ.aspx
  16. https://www.state.nj.us/state/elections/assets/pdf/election-results/2019-1211-certificate-of-political-parties.pdf
  17. https://www.sos.state.nm.us/
  18. https://www.dos.pa.gov/VotingElections/CandidatesCommittees/RunningforOffice/
  19. https://sos.tn.gov/products/elections/procedures-recognition-political-party
  20. https://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/candidates/guide/2020/starting-a-party.shtml
  21. https://elections.utah.gov/register/register-as-a-new-political-party
  22. https://sos.vermont.gov/elections/election-info-resources/parties/
  23. https://sos.vermont.gov/media/x2ybn4hi/guide-to-political-party-organization-in-vermont-2019.pdf
  24. https://www.elections.virginia.gov/candidatepac-info/political-committees/political-party-committees/
  25. https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/candidates/
  26. https://sos.wv.gov/elections/Pages/RecPolPrty.aspx
  27. https://sos.wyo.gov/Elections/PoliticalPartyInfo.aspx