States Must Suspend Ballot Access Requirements During Coronavirus Pandemic

The 2020 Election season is already off to the most unique start in American history and with this pandemic comes electoral situations that states must attend to like mail in voting and the one that everyone forgets, ballot access requirements for third parties.

The Politico brought this situation to light in a piece today.

The pandemic may have robbed Donald Trump of a growing economy. It may have trapped Joe Biden in his basement. But it may yet do something even worse to the Libertarian and Green party nominees: Keep them off the ballot in many of this year’s key states.

In 2016, the Libertarian Party was on the general election ballot in all 50 states; this year, it has secured ballot access in just 35. Similarly, the Green Party—which in 2016 had its best election ever by making the ballot in 44 states, with a further three states granting the party’s candidate official write-in status—has qualified for the November ballot in only 22 states.

There needs to be a concerted effort by the Libertarian and Green parties to convince the 50 states that their ballot access requirements need to be suspended for the 2020 election cycle. There is no way that with social distancing guidelines and with many businesses stilled closed, that petitioners can get the needed signatures in the states to gain access to the ballot. The President needs to push this issues as well and urge the Secretary’s of the States to make adjustments needed in the name of Democracy.

For America’s third parties, this is nothing less than a unique crisis. Without ballot access, national pollsters will not feel obligated to include Green and Libertarian candidates in their surveys and according to the Politico story “voters will be less aware of their nominees and platforms; journalists will be less likely to pay any attention to them; and the probability diminishes that either the Libertarians or Greens can reach the holy grail of 5 percent of the popular vote—the point at which they would finally qualify for federal campaign matching funds.”

We imagine that if nothing happens to suspend ballot access requirements then there will be a huge legal challenge in federal court. Third parties would need an immediate injunction to gain access and could possibly set a precedent for the future. They could argue that the requirements to gain access to the ballot are already ridiculously high and that could set the ground for a landmark decision that could strip away the archaic standards in place by the two major parties.

Leave a Reply