Below are new political party Ballot Access requirements for 50 of the United States and the District of Columbia. See also the Bill’s List State-by-State Outline of Independent / 3rd Party Presidential Candidate Ballot Access requirements for the same 50 States and DC.
In the State of Alabama, a candidate of a political party must receive at least 20 percent of the total vote for a statewide office in a General Election in order for the candidate’s party to achieve official recognition. To get to that point, the same party must first file with their candidates’ certificates of nomination a petition with the signatures of registered voters equal to 3% of the votes cast for Governor in the last preceding General Election (that 3% of 1,716,952 votes equals over 50,000 signatures based on 2018).
In the State of Alaska, a Political Group is a group of Alaska voters who represent a political program but have not met the requirements to be recognized as a Political Party. In Alaska, a Political Party is recognized as such if its nominee for Governor, or, in a non-Gubernatorial election, its nominee for United States Senator, or, if no other office is up, its nominee for US Representative, has received at least 3% of the last applicable vote or if it has registered voters in the State equal to that 3% (or over 8,000 voters).
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.
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.
In the State of California, a “political body” can qualify as a political party by accruing enough voter registrations or voter petition signatures. The political body must first hold a caucus or convention, elect temporary officers, and decide whether it will pursue the voter registration drive method or voter petition method.
Only .33% of California voters need to affiliate with the political body in order for that body to achieve political party recognition in California, but, in a state with over 20,000,000 registered voters, that’s over 66,000 voters. Representatives of a political body can contact the California Secretary of State Elections Division to obtain voter registration cards to distribute to voters.
To qualify by petition, a new political party may also collect petition signatures equal to 10% of the votes cast in the last California Gubernatorial election (that comes out to over 1,200,000 signatures) no later than the July prior to the Presidential General Election in which that party wishes to field a candidate.
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 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.
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.
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.
For a political party to be recognized by the State of Georgia, that party’s candidate for State Governor or President of the United States must receive 20% of the vote cast for one of those offices at the last General Election.
Political organizations which are not recognized political parties may place candidates onto Georgia’s General Election ballot by Convention if one of their candidates in a previous election received votes from 1% of eligible voters or if the same number of voters (approximately 70,000) sign the party’s petition by the second Tuesday in July of an Election Year.
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.
An organization wishing to be recognized by the State of Idaho as a political party may achieve official recognition by fielding three candidates for State or National office in a previous election, by having one candidate for Governor or President receive at least 3% of the vote, or by submitting a petition bearing the signatures of 2% of the vote for President in the previous General Election (or approximately 13,000 signatures).
An Illinois law requiring a new political party to run a full slate of candidates has been overturned, but an organization seeking official status must still file a petition with 25,000 voter signatures (note that in 2020 this requirement was cut to 2,500 electronic signatures due to the COVID-19 Pandemic).
A political organization seeking official recognition by the State of Indiana as a political party must field a candidate for Indiana Secretary of State who receives at least 2% of the votes cast for Secretary of State in the most recent General Election.
The party’s candidates must first file by petition.
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.
A political organization which seeks official recognition by the State of Kansas as a political party must file a petition with valid voter signatures equaling at least 2% of the total vote for Kansas Governor in the last Gubernatorial election (over 21,000 signatures).
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).
In the State of Louisiana, a political party is recognized by the State if its Candidate for President or statewide office receives at least 5% of the vote. The party will cease to be recognized if it doesn’t field another candidate for four consecutive years, or two General Elections.
A political party may also be recognized by the State of Louisiana if it accrues 1,000 registered voters and pays a $1,000 registration fee.
Maine voters wishing to form a new political party may file a declaration of intent with a Candidate who was nominated by petition and received at least 5% of the total vote for Governor or President in the most recent General Election. This declaration must be filed 6 months before the next Primary Election.
A political organization may also gain recognition as a political party by the State of Maine by accruing 5,000 registered voters in the calendar year before a General Election.
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.
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.
An organization seeking official recognition in the State of Michigan as a new political party must submit a petition with voter signatures equaling 1% of all votes for Governor in the last Michigan Gubernatorial election (over 40,000 signatures as of 2020, submitted by the middle of July).
At least 100 signatures must be from each of half of the 14 Congressional Districts in Michigan.
A political organization may qualify as a Minor Party in the State of Minnesota by fielding a statewide candidate who receives at least 1% of the vote in a General Election. An organization may qualify as a Major Party if at least one of its candidates receives 5% of the vote and the organization fields a full slate of candidates (or nearly full slate) statewide.
The process to establish a new political party in the State of Mississippi is among the easiest in the nation. Mississippi does not require petitions, fees or vote minimums to obtain or maintain party status.
The chairperson of the state executive committee of a political party must simply submit an application for registration of the political party to the Mississippi Secretary of State within 30 days of organization in order to be recognized. Not surprisingly, there are 13 state political parties in Mississippi listed on Ballotpedia as of 2020.
A political organization seeking official recognition as a political party by the State of Missouri must submit a petition with 10,000 valid signatures from Missouri voters by late July of the Election Year in question. Candidate nominations must then be made by Primary.
In the State of Montana, a political party automatically qualifies for the ballot if one of its statewide candidates in either of Montana’s last two General Elections received a vote total equaling at least 5% of the last vote for a successful Gubernatorial candidate (read carefully that the party’s candidate did not necessarily need to run specifically for the office of Governor).
If a political organization doesn’t meet the above requirement, it can petition to request a Primary Election with 5,000 voter signatures with 150 signatures from each of at least 1/3 of the state’s 100 legislative districts (or 34 districts).
Organizations seeking recognition as political parties in the State of Nebraska must file petitions with signatures equaling at least 1% of the last vote for the Governor of Nebraska (nearly 7,000 signatures), and these signatures must also equal at least 1% of the Gubernatorial vote in each of Nebraska’s three Congressional Districts.
If the new party wishes to participate in the state primary, the petition must be submitted by February 1st of the Election Year in question, and if the party wishes to participate in the General Election only, the petition must be submitted by August 1st (candidates of the said party must file by September 1st).
To obtain Nevada ballot access, a Minor Party must field a candidate who obtains 1% of the total votes cast for US Representative in the preceding General Election (e.g., as of 2020, at least one of a Minor Party’s candidates would have had to receive 9,608 votes in the 2018 Election). Alternately, the same ballot access can be achieved when 1% of Nevada voters affiliate with the party or 1% of the voters for US Representative in the last Election sign a petition for the party (again, 9,608 voters).
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.
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.
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).
In the State of New York, a political party is defined as any organization whose candidate for Governor fielded via the independent candidate nomination process received at least 50,000 votes in the last Gubernatorial election. Much like in Colorado, the organization may denote its name on the nominating petition and then the organization’s name will appear alongside the candidate’s name on the General Election ballot.
In order to make that General Election ballot, the organization’s candidate for Governor must collect at least 15,000 voter petition signatures statewide, with at least 100 of enrolled voters from each of half of New York’s 27 Congressional Districts signing.
An organization seeking official recognition as a political party by the State of North Carolina must submit a petition with valid signatures by North Carolina voters equaling 0.25% of the vote in North Carolina’s last Gubernatorial election (11,778 signatures as of 2020). At least 200 of those signatures must be from each of 3 North Carolina Congressional Districts (in other words, all of the signatures collected can’t be from only one or two Districts).
According to Ballotpedia, 7,000 voters must sign a petition to place a new political party’s candidates on the North Dakota primary ballot. To maintain that qualified status thereafter, the party must field a candidate who wins at least 5% of the vote for Governor, Secretary of State, or Attorney General in succeeding elections.
In the State of Ohio, a Minor Party is a party whose candidate for Governor or US President has received between 3% and 20% of the vote for that office, or is an organization which has petitioned for party recognition with voter signatures equaling at least 1% of the total vote for Governor or President in the most recent General Elections for those offices (which comes out to 43,000 or so signatures), with at least 500 of those signers coming from each of at least 1/2 of the Congressional Districts in the State. The petition must designate a committee of 3 to 5 members to represent the Petitioners, and must be filed around the end of June in time for a November General Election.
A specific candidate petition accompanying the party petition has relatively modest requirements (e.g., a Presidential candidate of the newly-minted Minor Party only needs to submit the signatures of 50 voters).
Oklahomans wishing to form a new political party officially recognized by the State of Oklahoma must file a petition bearing Oklahoma voter signatures equaling 3% of the last General Election vote for Governor (over 35,000 signatures). The party must then field candidates receiving at least 2.5% of the vote in statewide elections to maintain official party status.
In the State of Oregon, a political party may nominate candidates to the next statewide General Election ballot if signature verification shows the party’s petition contains the required 22,046 signatures (1.5% of the total votes cast for Oregon Governor in the last General Election).
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.
In the State of Rhode Island, a political organization can achieve official recognition by the State by nominating a Presidential or Gubernatorial candidate who receives at least 5% of the vote.
An organization in Rhode Island may also petition for official recognition from the State by gathering voter signatures equal to the same 5% amounts, based on the most recent Presidential or Gubernatorial elections (approximately 20,000 signatures or thereabouts).
To maintain its party status, the same organization must field Presidential or Gubernatorial candidates earning that 5% of the vote.
According to Ballotpedia, a petition for the certification of a new political party in the State of South Carolina must be signed by 10,000 or more registered voters.
In the State of South Dakota, new political parties intending to field a Federal (other than Presidential), Gubernatorial or State Legislative candidate in the next Primary Election must file by the last Tuesday in March a petition signed by South Dakota voters equal to 1% of the last Gubernatorial vote (3,392 signatures as of last count). If a new party does not intend to field one of the above candidates, it has until the beginning of July to file its petition.
New political parties in the State of South Dakota are required to adopt a party constitution or bylaws governing their organization and conduct. The party central committee shall certify to and file with the Secretary of State a copy of the document and amendments within 30 days of their approval.
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).
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.
“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).
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
According to Ballotpedia, the first step for a political party receiving official recognition within Washington, DC (versus nationally), is to file with the Board of Elections and register with Washington, DC’s Office of Campaign Finance (OCF).
A new party can submit its name to the Board of Elections for approval once the party is registered. It’s suggested that the application for party name approval be submitted no later than the beginning of May of an election year to ensure the party’s name is approved in time to circulate a candidate’s nominating petition for the General Election. Nominating petitions are not granted to candidates whose party’s name has not been approved.
Candidates of a new political party are nominated as minor party candidates and are allowed to run in the General Election. Minor party candidates must meet the same filing requirements as other candidates.
To gain permanent ballot status for the new party, its candidate must receive at least 7,500 General Election votes for the offices of Congressional Delegate, Mayor, Chairperson of the DC Council, or Member of the DC Council.
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.
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.
In the State of Wisconsin, political parties entitled to primary and general election ballot position are called “ballot status parties.” In order to qualify as a ballot status party, a political organization must field a Presidential candidate who receives 1% of the vote in a General Election or a candidate in a Gubernatorial Election who receives at least 1% of the vote for any statewide office in that General Election.
A political organization may also petition for ballot status in Wisconsin with 10,000 valid voter signatures submitted by the beginning of April of the Election Year in question, with at least 1,000 signatures coming from each of at least three separate Congressional Districts.
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).