For immediate release
October 11, 2023
Little Rock, Arkansas
Libertarians File for Ballot Access for 2024
This morning, representatives of the Libertarian Party of Arkansas (LPAR) submitted petitions to the Arkansas Secretary of State seeking to become a “new political party” for the 2024 elections. This is the seventh consecutive cycle in which the LPAR has sought ‘new’ political party status, following six successful campaigns since 2011.
The LPAR submitted over 13,200 signatures in order to satisfy the requirement of 10,000 valid signatures from registered voters. Party leaders expressed confidence in the sufficiency of the petition: “We’ve been at this now for over a decade, it’s part of the process for us,” said Michael Pakko, Chair of the LPAR. “We will continue to do our best to give the voters of Arkansas an alternative to the two-party duopoly.
“But the crazy part is that we keep having to go through this charade, year after year, after clearly demonstrating our commitment to an ongoing, active participation in the political process in Arkansas.”
New political parties are able to maintain ballot access going forward if their candidate for Arkansas Governor or U.S. President receives over 3% of the vote in the most recent general election. In 2022, Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Ricky Dale Harrington received 1.8% of the vote. “It’s a high hurdle for a small, growing political party,” noted Pakko. “Our candidates for other state and local office routinely receive double-digit support, even more if we are offering the only alternative to an unopposed incumbent. But at the top of the ticket, voters are more hesitant to cast their vote for an alternative.”
The LPAR advocates for Arkansas to adopt a broader standard for defining an established political party. In our neighboring states of Missouri and Oklahoma, for example, party-status is defined by a minimum percentage in any statewide race, with ballot-access assured for two electoral cycles to account for election years in which there is no statewide race other than for President.
The LPAR’s efforts for ballot access this year have been eased by recent changes in the Arkansas election laws. In response to the LPAR’s victory in Federal court, Libertarian Party of Arkansas, et al v. Thurston, the legislature this year adopted changes that re-established the petition threshold at 10,000 valid signatures, eliminated the 90-day petitioning window, and postponed the deadlines for “new political parties” to submit petitions and declare candidates.
As a result of the latter change, the LPAR will not be registering candidates until after its scheduled nominating convention in February 2024. Candidates for the major political parties will be registering for their respective primary elections in the first week of November 2023.
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