Below are the Independent and/or 3rd Party Presidential Ballot Access requirements for 50 of the United States as well as the District of Columbia. See also a State-by-State Outline of New Political Party Ballot Access for the same 50 States plus DC.
To appear on the General Election ballot, party candidates must first have their political organization file a petition with the State of Alabama containing over 50,000 Alabama voter signatures.
Independent candidates for President face similar barriers in Alabama, being required to file 51,588 petition signatures to appear on the 2020 General Election ballot.
An Independent candidate for President of the United States seeking to be placed on the State of Alaska Presidential ballot must submit a petition with the valid signatures of 3,212 Alaska voters as of Election Year 2020.
The same number of voter signatures is required to achieve official recognition of a political party as a “limited political party” by the State of Alaska.
Unaffiliated or “Independent” Candidates for President of the United States must petition onto the Arizona ballot. The required number of Arizona voter petition signatures is 3% of total registered voters in the State as of the beginning of the Election Year in question (that comes out to approximately 120,000 signatures as of 2020).
The deadline to file the signatures in 2020 is the Friday before Labor Day.
Forming a Political Party in the State of Arkansas requires 10s of 1000s of petition signatures, but Presidential candidates of a political group which is not a recognized Political Party can qualify for the General Election ballot by filing a petition with the Secretary of State no later than the first Monday of August before the General Election. The petition shall be signed by not less than 1,000 qualified Arkansas voters.
California (55 Electoral College Votes / Partisan Voting Index D+12)
To qualify for the General Election ballot in the State of California, an Independent candidate for President must gather approximately 200,000 voter signatures by petition (1% of California voters registered before the State’s last General Election).
In Colorado, a party’s nominee just needs to file the nomination acceptance forms.
An unaffiliated candidate for President, however, needs to submit 5,000 petition signatures or pay a $1,000 filing fee to appear on the General Election ballot.
As of 2020, Connecticut law requires 7,500 petition signatures to place a Candidate for President on Connecticut’s statewide General Election ballot.
In the State of Delaware, there is no filing fee to run as an Independent Candidate for President (otherwise the filing fee would be set by the size of the Candidate’s political party). You apparently just have fill out a one-page form.
For a Presidential candidate to appear on the ballot with a party line, the party has to acquire 700+ affiliated voters by early May or late August (depending on which Primary is being referred to).
A minor party that is not affiliated with a national party must petition to have its candidate for President placed on the general election ballot. This petition must contain signatures equaling 1 percent of the total registered voters in the state.
A minor political party that is affiliated with a national party does not have to petition its candidate onto the Florida ballot. Per Florida law, the term “national party” means a political party that is registered with and recognized as a qualified national committee of a political party by the Federal Election Commission.
Georgia (16 Electoral College Votes / Partisan Voting Index R+5)
In the State of Georgia, Independent candidates for President of the United States must submit a candidate petition with signatures from 1% of eligible Georgia voters (approximately 70,000 signatures).
A Presidential candidate not running with a Qualified Political Party in the State of Hawaii may petition onto the General Election ballot with signatures equaling 1% of the State’s vote in the last Presidential election, which equals 4,377 signatures from 437,664 votes cast.
An Independent candidate for President of the United States who wishes to run in the State of Idaho must submit a petition with 1,000 valid voter signatures in late August.
Illinois (20 Electoral College Votes / Partisan Voting Index D+7)
An Illinois law requiring a new political party to run a full slate of candidates has been overturned, but a Presidential candidate seeking to run under the banner of a new political party must still file a party 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).
An Independent candidate for President faces the same 25,000 signature requirement in Illinois.
Indiana (11 Electoral College Votes / Partisan Voting Index R+9)
Independent candidates for President of the United States must submit nearly 45,000 signatures to appear on the 2020 General Election ballot (2% of the votes cast for Secretary of State in Indiana’s last General Election).
An NPPO (Non-Party Political Organization) candidate for President running in Iowa must collect at least 1,500 signatures from voters in at least 10 counties by mid-August to appear on the 2020 General Election ballot.
An Independent candidate for President of the United States seeking placement on the Kansas General Election ballot must submit a petition with 5,000 valid signatures from Kansas voters.
Independent Presidential Candidates wishing to run in the General Election in Kentucky must pay a $500 filing fee and file 5,000 voter petition signatures between November and September.
Presidential Candidates may also run with “Political Organizations” (organizations which received at least 2% of the last Presidential vote) or “Political Groups” (which apparently have no requirements).
Louisiana (8 Electoral College Votes / Partisan Voting Index R+11)
From mid-July to mid-August of the Election Year in question, an Independent Candidate for President of the United States who wishes to appear on the Louisiana state ballot may just pay a $500 filing fee along with submitting eight Notices of Candidacy from their Presidential Electors plus notarized affidavits from those same eight Presidential Electors, six of whom must be from each of Louisiana’s six Congressional Districts.
An Independent candidate for President wishing to appear on the Presidential ballot in the State of Maine needs to submit 4,000 voter petition signatures by late July of the Election Year in question.
An Independent candidate who receives at least 5% of the vote for President or Governor may then be the rallying point for formation of a new political party in Maine for the next set of Primary and General Elections.
In the State of Maryland, the signature requirement for an unaffiliated candidate seeking a statewide elective office is 10,000 signatures.
A candidate must file a Declaration of Intent with the State in early July, and file the actual petition signatures in early August.
According to the State of Maryland website, there is no filing fee for Presidential Candidates.
The State of Massachusetts allows non-party candidates to run in the State’s November General Election under a political designation of up to three words or without any designation. However, non-party candidates must circulate nomination papers to appear on the ballot.
A non-party candidate seeking to have his or her name placed on the General Election ballot must obtain at least 10,000 certified signatures on nomination papers (a petition). These papers must include the names of 11 Presidential electors, who must be registered voters in Massachusetts, for each Presidential and Vice-Presidential ticket. Although only the names of the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Candidates appear on that ballot, voters cast their ballots for the 11 Electors who cast their votes in the Electoral College.
Michigan (16 Electoral College Votes / Partisan Voting Index D+1)
A Presidential candidate without a political party affiliation seeking to be placed on the Michigan Presidential ballot must submit 30,000 valid voters signatures by petition by mid-July of the Election Year in question (up to 60,000 signatures are allowed, to cover invalid signatures). As with the 40,000 signatures required to form a new political party in Michigan, at least 100 of the signatures must come from each of half of the 14 Congressional Districts in the State of Michigan.
In 2020, Michigan halved candidate signature requirements due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Minnesota (10 Electoral College Votes / Partisan Voting Index D+1)
In the State of Minnesota, candidates of minor political parties, other political parties, or independent candidates must file 2,000 valid voter signatures in a nominating petition to have their names placed on Minnesota’s General Election ballot.
Mississippi (6 Electoral College Votes / Partisan Voting Index R+9)
The State of Mississippi is among the easiest states in which to form a political party for official recognition, but Presidential Party Nominees for Mississippi’s General Election must still pay a $2,500 filing fee when filing with their six named Presidential Electors the Friday before Labor Day in September.
An Independent Candidate for President must additionally submit 1,000 voter signatures in a nominating petition.
Missouri (10 Electoral College Votes / Partisan Voting Index R+9)
An Independent candidate for President of the United States seeking to be placed on the Missouri Presidential ballot faces the same 10,000-signature hurdle as a new political party does (all petition signatures must be submitted by late July).
Montana (3 Electoral College Votes / Partisan Voting Index R+11)
Independent candidates for President of the United States seeking placement on the Montana Presidential ballot face the same hurdle as new political parties, being required to submit 5,000 valid voter petition signatures by mid-August of the Election Year in question.
Nebraska (5 Electoral College Votes / Partisan Voting Index R+14)
Independent candidates for President of the United States wishing to appear on the Nebraska ballot must submit by the beginning of August a petition with the valid signatures of 2,500 Nebraska voters.
Ballotpedia outlines Nevada US Presidential ballot access requirements similar to the requirements to achieve ballot access for a Minor Political Party. As of the 2020 Election, an Independent Candidate for President must pay a $250 filing fee and file a petition containing the signatures of at least 1 percent of the total number of votes cast for all Nevada US Representatives in Congress in the last election no later than the second Friday in August (i.e., just under 10,000 signatures).
For a Presidential Candidate to appear on the General Election ballot in the State of New Hampshire, they must submit 3,000 voter signatures (1,500 from each of New Hampshire’s two Congressional Districts) along with a a $250 filing fee. The Declaration of Intent and Filing Fee must be submitted in early June, and signatures in early August.
Political organizations which wish to place candidates on the New Hampshire General Election ballot must also file “Nomination Papers” (a.k.a. petition signatures), to the tune of 17,406 in 2020.
Petitions can be circulated in the Year of Election.
New Jersey (14 Electoral College Votes / Partisan Voting Index D+7)
In the State of New Jersey, to be officially recognized, a party’s candidates must collectively earn 10% of the total vote in a statewide election for the state legislature. Independent Candidates for President and Vice President must collect 800 petition signatures. In 2020, due to COVID-19, signatures can be gathered electronically. The deadline to turn in nominating petitions in 2020 is July 27th.
New Mexico (5 Electoral College Votes / Partisan Voting Index D+3)
The State of New Mexico requires 3,483 signatures of an Independent candidate for President of the United States to appear on the General Ballot (the same number of signatures required of a new Minor Party).
New York (29 Electoral College Votes / Partisan Voting Index D+12)
In the State of New York, an Independent (or, apparently, 3rd party) candidate for President of the United States must, in 2020, collect 45,000 signatures or 1% of the votes cast for Governor of New York in the State’s last Gubernatorial election, whichever is less, with at least 500 signatures or 1% of enrolled voters, whichever is less, coming from each of half of the 27 Congressional Districts in the State of New York.
North Carolina (15 Electoral College Votes / Partisan Voting Index R+3)
An Independent candidate for President of the United States seeking placement on the North Carolina Presidential ballot must submit a petition with valid signatures equaling 1.5% of the last Gubernatorial vote in North Carolina (over 70,000 signatures).
North Dakota (3 Electoral College Votes / Partisan Voting Index R+17)
A Presidential candidate of a political party which has failed to gain ballot access needs to file a petition with 4,000 voter signatures (in a State with just under 600,000 residents of voting age, that’s about 1.5% of total voters in North Dakota).
In Ohio, an independent candidate for President of the United States must actually be unaffiliated from any political party, and the required claim of being unaffiliated must be made in good faith for the candidate to be qualified to run as an independent candidate.
The Presidential candidate of a newly-formed Minor Party in the State of Ohio (one which has submitted a party formation petition with at least 43,000 valid voter signatures) only needs to submit the signatures of 50 voters. A candidate running as an Independent needs at least 5,000 valid voter signatures on a petition by early August.
Oklahoma (7 Electoral College Votes / Partisan Voting Index R+20)
An Independent candidate for President of the United States must pay a $35,000 filing fee (easily the highest in the nation) and submit a petition bearing the signatures of over 35,000 Oklahoma voters as of 2020.
An Independent candidate for President of the United States who wishes to appear on the Oregon Presidential ballot must submit a petition with just over 20,000 valid voter signatures.
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.
The Presidential Candidate of a Minor Political Party or Political Body in the State of Pennsylvania needs to gather 5,000 signatures statewide.
In 2020, the circulation period for “Nomination Papers” begins in February and ends in early August.
Rhode Island (4 Electoral College Votes / Partisan Voting Index D+10)
In Rhode Island, an Independent Candidate for President of the United States must petition for placement onto the General Election ballot with 1,000 signatures, submitting them no later than 60 days prior to the General Election (early September).
Parties qualifying by the petition process in Rhode Island may opt to nominate candidates by a method other than Primary Election (e.g., Convention) in the first year that they qualify for recognized status.
South Carolina (9 Electoral College Votes / Partisan Voting Index R+8)
According to the South Carolina Election Commission, an Independent Candidate for President of the United States needs 10,000 voter signatures by petition to appear on the General Election ballot.
By the same token, according to Ballotpedia, a political party needs to gather 10,000 petition signatures to gain official recognition.
South Dakota (3 Electoral College Votes / Partisan Voting Index R+14)
New political parties wishing to place a Presidential candidate on the South Dakota ballot must file an organizing petition by the end of March of the Election Year in question with 3,392 signatures of South Dakota voters.
Independent candidates for President have the same signature requirements for ballot access, but have until early August to file.
In the State of Tennessee, an Independent Presidential Candidate just needs to obtain the signatures and addresses of at least 275 voters registered anywhere within the State of Tennessee.
The first date to pick up a petition form from the Division of Elections is May 22, 2020. Petition forms can be picked up in person or mailed. The qualifying deadline to file the petition is 12 Noon Central Time August 20, 2020.
In Utah, an independent candidate may submit a petition with 1,000 signatures in order to get on the General Election ballot, and must also pay a $500 filing fee.
For the 2020 General Election, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Independent Candidates for President and Vice President of the United States DO NOT need to collect signatures to qualify for the ballot (the implication is that Presidential candidates DO need to collect signatures in normal elections).
There is no filing fee to run as an Independent Presidential Ticket in the State of Vermont. “Consent” forms for the Candidates and their three Presidential Electors just need to be filed in late July / early August.
The only current option for running for President or Vice President in the State of Virginia (other than as a Democrat or a Republican) is as an Independent.
That said, 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
5,000 signatures are required, and can be gathered starting on January 1st of the election year in question (at least as of 2020). At least 200 of those voters must be from each of Virginia’s 11 Congressional Districts.
The Virginia deadline for Candidates to file for the General Election is in August.
An independent or “non-qualified party” candidate for President of the United States must petition for placement on the General Election ballot. This petition must contain signatures equaling at least 1% of the District’s 500,000+ qualified voters (or about 5,000 signatures). The petition must be filed with the DC Board of Elections no later than early August.
As of 2020, the State of Washington does not collect filing fees for the offices of President and Vice President.
In Washington State, the nomination process for Minor Party Presidential candidates includes a nominating convention between May 2nd and July 25th where 1,000 petition signatures are gathered from convention attendees. At least 100 registered Washington voters must attend each meeting of the convention, which can be composed of multiple meetings.
Under an COVID-19 emergency rule issued by the Washington State Secretary of State’s Office, a virtual convention is acceptable as a safe nominating convention for the 2020 General Election, but attendees still must have a hard copy of the nominating petition, and they must provide their printed name, address, and original signature. Signatures must be submitted to the Secretary of State together with the nominating petition. Scanned, faxed, copied, or emailed signatures are not accepted on the nominating petition forms.
Notably, a declaration of a write-in candidacy can be submitted as late as 8 p.m. on Election Day in Washington State.
Candidates in West Virginia must file a Certificate of Announcement from January 13 through January 25th, 2020. There is a $2,500 filing fee to run for President.
West Virginia Parties can field candidates if their last Gubernatorial candidate received at least 1% of the Gubernatorial vote. Non-party candidates must petition onto the General Election ballot with at least 1% of the previous Presidential vote (6,782 votes required in 2020).
All Presidential candidacy paperwork (including petition signatures and filing fee) needs to be filed by the end of July in 2020.
Wisconsin (10 Electoral College Votes / Partisan Voting Index EVEN)
Independent Candidates for US President seeking to be placed on the State of Wisconsin Presidential ballot need to submit a petition with 2,000 valid voter signatures.
4,025 voter petition signatures are required to form a new political party in the State of Wyoming, and 4,025 signatures are required to place an Independent Candidate for President on the Wyoming General Election Ballot.
A filing fee of $200 is also required by the August filing deadline 70 days before the General Election. A petition can only be circulated during the calendar year of the Election.