Maine bill puts Libertarian Party on ballot and makes improvements to ballot access for new parties. Without this bill, Maine has been one of the worst states for ballot access according to FairVote who said, “Maine petitions for a member of a small qualified party to get on his or her own primary ballot are very severe: 2,000 signatures of party members for statewide office, even if the party might only have a few thousand members.” A new post by Richard Winger in Ballot Access News had the latest:
On June 7, the Maine Joint Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee passed LD 1571, after amending it so that it makes only modest improvements to the party qualification and retention process. The original version of the bill had made bigger improvements.
The bill makes it clear that the Libertarian Party is to be considered a qualified party for the 2018 election. But in 2018, both the Libertarian Party and the Green Party must have at least 10,000 registered members who actually go to the polls and vote, in order to remain on for 2020. This is the same requirement as in existing law, except that in the existing law a party must meet that requirement in its first year on the ballot, but the bill says in the case of a newly-qualifying party, that party need not meet that test until its second election year on the ballot.
The original version of the bill had said that any party can remain on the ballot if it has 5,000 registered members, without specifying that they must be individuals who actually cast a ballot. But that provision was deleted from the bill. The amended bill makes a small improvement in the deadline for qualifying as a new party. Existing law says that deadline is December 1 of the year before the election. The bill changes that to January 2 of the election year.
Also, according to the state’s Libertarian Party:
The Maine LP submitted 6,742 voter registration forms by the December 1 deadline. A validity rate of 77% was needed to have 5,000 legitimate registrations. Prior to the new law, a party needed to collect signatures equal to 5% of the vote for the most recent gubernatorial election. This required a significant amount of signatures (over 29,000 for the 2012 election), and had only been accomplished twice, the last time in 1996.
A party can also become recognized by having it’s candidate for Governor or President get 5% of the vote. To retain party status, the Maine LP must have at least 10,000 registered voters participate in the 2016 general election.