Gary Johnson

How Gary Johnson's Vote Percentages Will Affect Libertarian Party Ballot Access, State By State

Here is a list of what the Libertarian Party will get in terms of automatic, petition-free ballot access if certain vote percentages in that state are hit.

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There has been a lot of weight placed in Libertarian expectations and hopes for the results for Gary Johnson next Tuesday in terms of getting 5 percent nationally, which will make the Party's next presidential candidate eligible for a category of federal election funds.

Gage Skidmore

While saying things both concise and accurate about ballot access laws in America, which vary state by state in this here federal union, is difficult, you have often heard, including from Gary Johnson himself, that getting that 5 percent will help the Party with ballot access as well.

Technically, the national result, whatever it is, in and of itself has no effect at all on ballot access anywhere but Georgia. (There, a 20 percent result nationally wins petition-free access.)

Every other state's ballot access laws, if vote percents affect them at all, are dictated only by the percentages gained in that state.

That said, under most imaginable circumstances a national 5 percent will mean that the Party also did historically well in lots of individual states also.

What follows, derived from this state-by-state chart from the invaluable Ballot Access News edited by Richard Winger, is a list of what the Libertarian Party will get in terms of automatic, petition-free ballot access if certain vote percentages in that state are hit. A huge proportion of the Libertarian Party's time and effort goes to petitioning for access, so these accomplishments are a big deal for small parties.

It's important to note that any such earned automatic ballot access is not eternal, and in many cases applies only to the next election, 2018, not even to the next presidential election. Below I specify which states get that access for just 2018 or for both 2018 and 2020.

Again, all these vote percentages are in the states in question, not national. In almost all cases, it is not just the presidential ticket hitting this percentage that wins the prize, but any office the entire state is voting for. Thus, the Party can re-win the access in 2018 for 2020 with any office voted on statewide, even though there is not a presidential race in 2018.

Now, the percentages and what they get the Party, and where:

0.5 percent gets the Libertarian Party full ballot access without need to spend time and money on petitioning for 2018 in Michigan and New Mexico.

1 percent gets the Libertarian Party full ballot access without need to spend time and money on petitioning for 2018 in Kansas, Maryland, Nevada, and Wisconsin.

It would earn such access in both 2018 and 2020 in Oregon.

It would earn such access only for the president slot in 2020 in Connecticut.

2 percent gets the Libertarian Party full ballot access without need to spend time and money on petitioning for 2018 in Iowa.

It would earn such access in both 2018 and 2020 in Kentucky, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, and Utah.

2.5 percent gets the Libertarian Party full ballot access without need to spend time and money on petitioning for 2018 in Oklahoma and Washington D.C. [Correction: D.C.'s standard technically is a hard 7,500 votes, which tends to be around that percentage.]

3 percent gets the Libertarian Party full ballot access without need to spend time and money on petitioning for 2018 in Arkansas, Idaho, and Massachusetts.

It would earn such access in both 2018 and 2020 in Ohio. [Correction: Since Johnson is on the Ohio ballot technically as an independent this year, not with the L.P. banner, it will be meaningless for Ohio access, alas.]

It would earn such access only for the president slot in 2020 in Alaska.

5 percent gets the Libertarian Party full ballot access without need to spend time and money on petitioning for 2018 in North Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas.

It would earn such access in both 2018 and 2020 in Arizona, Louisiana, Minnesota, [correction: Minnesota was mistakenly left off in original post], Nebraska, Rhode Island, and Washington state.

Some states have even higher hurdles to jump for that state's vote totals for president (or other offices voted on statewide) to earn automatic ballot access, or other special cases. (Election law is hard.)

And a group of states give third parties no special ballot access benefits no matter how well the presidential candidate does. Those states are: California, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Five percent nationally would be an amazing thing for the Johnson campaign and the Libertarian Party. But what really matters for ballot access moving forward is what happens state by state.

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  1. Has Johnson repudiated Weld’s bullshit? No? He’s not getting my vote then. I’d like to hold my nose and vote for the guy but that was the last straw.

    With what Weld pulled he’ll be lucky to get two percent.

    1. It is truly, um, unfortunate. 8-(

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    2. 1%, if he’s lucky

    3. Expressing solidarity with a bullshit major party candidate still doesn’t make the LP ticket worse than said major party candidate.

      1. *** scratches head ***

      2. I agree, the Libertarian ticket is the best ticket. However, Clinton and Trump aren’t betraying anyone when they boost Clinton and Trump. What Weld did was a betrayal. Johnson could still mitigate the damage or even turn this into a net positive but the hour is late.

        1. Fortunately, the Johnson electors I am voting for have told me they arent going to vote for Weld, if it comes to that.

          Note: this is a lie, but I think it could be a safe assumption, plus it literally doesnt matter, Johnson isnt winning KY.

          1. Weld just destroyed what would have been the highest voter turnout for LP ever.
            Throngs of americans were going to vote LP strictly as a protest vote against both repugnant candidates and colluding parties. Now Johnson has lost my vote because he is either ignorant of his allies, complicit with some of the thought process, or just not very bright to improperly vet a person that could say something so stupid.

            Let’s say Weld’s stuff was taken out of context. Fair enough but for any person that is to be perceived as sane or even remotely intelligent, to say you agree with Hillary Clinton on anything is tantamount to mental retardation. The same could be said for a large percentage of what Trump says. The protest vote and a good chance of showing D.C. what many americans were thinking just disappeared.

            1. Not sure what that has to do with my comment.

        2. What Weld did was a betrayal.

          This. He was supposed to be out campaigning for his party’s ticket, not someone else. It’s probably too late, but if there was a way for the LP to kick him off the ticket and replace him, they should.

          But, like I said, probably way too late now. They’re stuck with him dragging down the ticket. And I thought if anyone was going to drag down the ticket it would have been that Al Leppo guy (whoever the hell he is).

          1. It’s probably too late, but if there was a way for the LP to kick him off the ticket and replace him, they should.

            They have until December 19th, when the real election occurs.

        3. Yeah, an LP VP candidate going off the reservation clearly makes Trump (or Clinton) a superior choice for your vote. Geez. Do you remember who the LP VP candidate was in 2008?

    4. I can’t blame any libertarian for voting against Johnson/Weld.

      However, please do seriously consider voting for statewide LP candidates down ticket. Because ballot access is really important, and petitioning is very expensive. And there are genuine libertarians running in the down ticket elections that deserve your vote.

      1. Also, voting LP down ticket while voting Trump or Stein for president might have an additional benefit: Johnson/Weld might get a significantly lower percentage of the vote than LP candidates down ticket. That would really say something since Johnson’s opponents are either criminal or mentally ill, or both.

        Johnson said that Mickey Mouse could get over 10% versus Trump/Clinton if he were on the ballot. Johnson won’t even get that, and it’s because of the incredibly bad campaign of Johnson/Weld.

        1. Too bad Johnson is so wimpy and left out of the discussion.

          R. Paul could have just run clips of him grilling Ben Bernanke in congress over and over again and brought civility to the process again. has there ever been a candidate besides him that never really flip-flopped on any issue? of course it is pointless and sad to ever refer to him but that was pretty much the last hope.

          “do you consider gold to be money?”
          One of the more poingnant moments in monetary and economic discussion.

            1. My favorite Ron Paul interview was on the Fox Business channel when the interviewer asked him how the government could afford to build that Capitol building he was standing in front of without an income tax. Ron Paul correctly pointed out that the Capitol building was built before the US even had an income tax.

        2. Not really. It’s primarily because the CPD set a ridiculously high 15 percent inclusion threshold for the debates. It’s secondarily because the major news media treated it like a 2-candidate race from beginning to end. Johnson’s gaffes and Weld’s treason cost 1 or 2 percent at most.

          1. After seeing his interviews I am of the strong opinion that if Gary Johnson had made it into the presidential debates all he would have done is illustrate what an awful choice for President he truly is. He is weak, scattered, and doesn’t possess enough spine to even seize control of his ticket from his backstabbing running mate…Trump would have destroyed him in a debate. I suspect Weld would have used the VP debate to run interference for Tim Kaine against Mike Pence and shill for Clinton.

            After how badly the party leadership botched this election, they deserve no support from any of us. They certainly don’t deserve federal welfare from taxpayers based on a pity vote for Gary Johnson.

      2. Not in California. Johnson is the only LP candidate on my ballot.

    5. The Johnson/Weld campaign has been sending out emails denying the media’s spin of Weld’s comments.

    6. How petulant can libertarians possibly get? The whole RINO/DINO poo-flinging stuff is at least semi-legitimate. Those parties are so focused on ‘big tent’ and ‘electoral victory’ that they don’t care one whit about basic principles. So maybe there is some offsetting value in reducing the size of the tent. Libertarians trying to poo-fling LINO around are simply stupid beyond belief. Exactly how small an intolerant church do you want the LP to be? Libertarians are the only party that could expand by magnitudes – the only party with a lot of people who self-identify as ‘small-l-but-not-big-L’ – simply by accepting that disagreement is part of being a political party and suppressing it internally is as anti-libertarian as you can possibly get.

      It is not up to Johnson to repudiate anything. Nor for Weld to apologize for anything. I may not think much of Weld’s tactics – or how this campaign is being run. But where the hell do you actually think your call to impose conformity on speech for everyone leads? I know that this sort of shit is actually not typical of even purist activists at the local level. This totalitarian wing of libertarianism is unique to assholes on the internet. It is too bad however that it does actually create a hesitation by people new to libertarian politics to even get involved. Which I suppose is your intention.

      1. Johnson is free to espouse his own beliefs, whether or not they are in lockstep with the LP platform. Voters (including the 1 percent LP voters) are free to support him or not.

        Weld is not free to endorse the Democrat.

        1. Technically he didn’t. He just gave a really crappy non-compelling answer about why to vote L before he gushed about Clinton. It’s possible that that was deliberate undermining. Or, more likely, that it was a stupid mistake based on a laziness and lack of preparation to deal with any ‘wasted vote’ type questions.

          No question – he’s a third party candidate who should have a prepared answer for precisely that type of question. But unless there is some clear evidence that he is deliberately undermining the political party that nominated him, the assumption should be that he screwed up – bad.

          1. Technically he didn’t.

            But in reality he did, and then tried to disingenuously wordsmith it later to pretend he didn’t because he thinks libertarian voters are too stupid to catch on. Weld is in the tank for the Clintons…he’s been friends with Hillary Clinton since they worked together on the Nixon trial. It wasn’t a mistake, he intentionally went against the Libertarian Party ticket in that interview, same as he did by endorsing Republican Lisa Murkowski over Libertarian Joe Miller in the Alaska Senate race. His goal was to derail the LP’s chances of securing wins in Congress or taking votes from Clinton and that’s exactly what he achieved.

    7. I don’t believe it’s reasonable for the candidate to repudiate the VP candidate for saying something stupid. Johnson/Weld is not going to win anyway. You probably weren’t even going to vote Libertarian to begin with. You sounds more like a troll for Clinton or Trump.

      1. Weld didn’t say something stupid…he said something disloyal and undermining, intentionally. It is wholly appropriate for Gary Johnson to yank his leash and tell him to shut his mouth, and to pull him off the campaign trail. That’s what a leader does with a disloyal team member. That Gary Johnson didn’t do this shows that he’s no leader.

  2. a group of states give Party’s no special ballot access benefits no matter how well the presidential candidate, or any candidate, does. Those states are: California, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming

    But 50,000 votes in a gubenatorial race gets you four years ballot access in New York. It’s the only thing keeping the Fusion parties from fading away (they survive by nominating a major party candidate for governer and picking up a slice of their votes for continued ballot access.) I don’t know if that includes Presidential races, but it does cover the downballot spots. Yes, the Empire State can fuck anything up.

  3. Election law is hard.

    Hey! No h/t for *Barbie*?!

  4. How will it effect Hillary’s election chances state by state?

    Libertarianism is not about principles at current, it is just a virtue signaling club.

    1. They’ll club you if you don’t virtue signal?

  5. Woe is the group dependent on Gary Johnson for anything.

    1. Gary’s just another candidate to dilute the eventual winner from winning a mandate but I think we all realize now that victory by any low percentage is trumpeted as a mandate. And worse, there is no opposition. It’s like they’re all fighting to give the best gifts (of other people’s money) to their partisan cronies.

  6. Brian,

    You left out 2019 for Kentucky. That is for governor and other statewide races.

  7. Where’s Virginia?

    1. With Santa Claus

    2. Virginia is 10%. This article only talked about the states with vote tests of 5% and below. The only other 10% state is New Jersey, and in New Jersey only the total statewide vote for all the Assembly candidates count. Other states left out are horrible Alabama (20%) and even more horrible Pennsylvania (party must have registration members equal to 15% of state registration total). Pennsylvania is so bad, if Pennsylvania’s law existed in all states, the Democrats would not be on in Idaho and Utah, and the Republicans would not be on in DC, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

  8. This is incorrect for Massachusetts. 3% in Massachusetts will give the Libertarian Party official “party” status, which means that voters may register in the party and primaries would be permissible. While we would not have to petition to put our presidential candidate on the ballot in 2020, we will still have to petition for all 2018 state offices. The article incorrectly states that we would not have to petition in 2018.

    1. The article is correct. If Gary Johnson gets 3% for president in Massachusetts, Libertarian NOMINEES in Massachusetts in 2018 would need no petition. The article is about avoiding petitioning for Libertarian nominees. It isn’t concerned with petition burdens for individuals who want to get on a Libertarian primary ballot. Besides Massachusetts, other states in which individual Libertarians must petition to get on the Libertarian primary ballot are Arizona, California before top-two came in, D.C., Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. I am not saying the LP has its own primary in all those states, but if the LP had its own primary in those states, then candidate petitions to get on a primary would be in place.

      1. I’m sorry Richard, but you are incorrect. ONLY Presidential candidates can avoid petitioning in Massachusetts. The statewide candidates in 2018 will STILL need to petition. We on the state committee have checked the law and the Secretary of State’s office on this.

        1. Thomas,

          Winger had been corrected on his false claims on a regular basis. The corrections have no effect.

          Now what he is claiming that because the nominating paper puts you onto the primary ballot, you did not need to petition to be put onto the general election ballot. This is a distinction with a negative difference, namely you can be defeated in the primary and not get to the general election ballot, as has been done in the past.

          Note that WInger is not telling the truth about the statement in the article, which was “3 percent gets the Libertarian Party full ballot access without need to spend time and money on petitioning for 2018 in Arkansas, Idaho, and Massachusetts.” Contrary to Winger, the word “nominee” does not appear in the sentence. The claim in the article is that time or money will not be needed for petitioning, and that’s completely false.

          George Phillies
          until recently, State Chair, Libertarian Association of Massachusetts

  9. yeah, for ballot access NJ requires a party to get 10% of all the votes cast in the most recent election for General Assembly. In the past I have suggested to the NJLP that they just get 80 names on the ballot, even if those people have no intention of campaigning at all. They might be able to get to 10% by running up the numbers in districts where the other major party fails to field candidates.

  10. What do you get if you get 1.4% of the vote?

  11. Great, that means in 4 years we can get an actual libertarian candidate!

  12. It would earn such access in both 2018 and 2020 in Arizona, Louisiana, Nebraska, Rhode Island, and Washington state.

    This should also include Minnesota, I believe.

    1. It should have, and now it does if you refresh, thanks.

    2. A party stays on in Louisiana just by running one candidate for any office, every four years.

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  14. California does give third parties one thing, regardless of how well they do: the shaft.

    1. Thanks to the top 2 primary law, there are only 2 Libertarians anywhere on the California ballot — Gary Johnson and a write-in for the 62nd district assembly post who tied for 2nd with 32 votes in the primary when only one candidate was on the primary ballot.

      1. CE,
        That is incorrect. Besides Gary, there are five Libertarians for state legislature; Assembly districts 1, 2, 51 and 62, and State Senate district 33.

      2. Actually there are 5 Libertarians on the California November 2016 ballot for legislature. All five were write-ins in the June 2016 primary, and in all five races, only one candidate’s name was on the primary ballot. So the write-in in the primary just had to beat any other write-in candidates. And Libertarians did that in 5 districts, one State Senate and four Assembly.

  15. It’s a shame Johnson chose the LINO Bill Weld as his running mate.

    1. Even assuming Johnson had as much as a snowball’s chance in Hell to be elected, what are the odds Weld would become President at a later date? It’s ridiculous to vote against either of the main parties because of the VP and even more ridiculous to vote against the Libertarian Party because of the VP.

  16. I think 5% also gets the LP ballot access in WA.

  17. Since we all vote State by State, whats the point of this article? We all know this.

    1. As the article correctly says, there is one state in which the national vote total for president affects state ballot access. That is Georgia. If Johnson got 20% in the entire USA, then the LP would be on the ballot in Georgia for all partisan office. Currently the LP is on in Georgia just for the statewide partisan races. The Georgia legislature wrote the law that way to prevent segregationist third parties from doing very well in Georgia and thereby becoming ballot-qualified. For instance the States Rights Democratic Party in 1948 got over 20% in Georgia but nationally only got 2%. George Wallace’s American Party carried Georgia for president in 1968 but that did no good because nationally it only got 13%. So no ballot status in Georgia for the party that won the presidential election in Georgia.

  18. Voting for the LP just for ballot access is crap. Don’t encourage these delegates for putting up these clowns.
    If they have to work harder to get ballot access that’s their own fault. Don’t screw the base. Every political party needs to learn this lesson. The libertarian party isby going to be around for much longer with candidates like this.

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  24. ” 3 percent gets the Libertarian Party full ballot access without need to spend time and money on petitioning for 2018 in … Massachusetts.”

    Totally wrong.

    3% only affects the signature count requirement for President. There is no Presidential election in 2018.

    3% in Massachusetts does get “political party” (major party) status. The result of this is that your signature count requirement stays the same (e.g., 10,000 for Governor) but members of other political parties cannot sign your nominating papers. As a result, if you stop people at the supermarket and ask them to sign, your validity rate goes from 80-85% (except in Boston, Cambridge, and Lowell, where it is much lower) to around 30%. The number of people you have to stop and ask to sign your papers goes through the ceiling.

    Claims that 3% eliminates petitioning in Massachusetts in 2018 are completely false. Furthermore, your source seems to keep leaving the contrary wrong impression with people despite being corrected regularly.

    George Phillies
    until recently, State Chair, Libertarian Association of Massachusetts

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  26. Ballot access requirements are fucking disgraceful.

    And Penn is a nitwit to believe Clinton is less likely to start World War Three, especially with any certainty. Did he not listen to the third parallel press conference during which Clinton promised war with Russia in Syria.

    Gary Johnson is the perfect idiot, but he does accurately represent most libertarians in the United States.

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