The Libertarian Party of Arkansas delivered petitions to the Arkansas Secretary of State’s office today, seeking to become a “new political party” for the 2018 elections. This is the fourth consecutive election cycle in which the LP has petitioned to be a “new political party” in Arkansas. The LP must petition again to become a new party because its candidate for President in 2016, Gary Johnson, received 2.64% of the vote – short of the 3% required to maintain ballot access for another election cycle.
Arkansas law requires a new political party to collect 10,000 valid voter signatures during a 90-day period. Over the past several weeks the party has collected over 15,000 signatures. The Secretary of State’s office will have 30 days to validate the signatures to verify that at least 10,000 registered voters have signed. After some final paperwork to be filed, the Libertarian Party of Arkansas should be declared a “new political party” sometime before the end of July.
In remarks made in the Capitol rotunda before the petition turn-in, Libertarian Party chair Michael Pakko pointed out the absurdity of having to file every electoral cycle as a new party. “Libertarians are giving the voters a choice in races up and down the ballot. Moreover, people are choosing to cast their votes for Libertarians,” Pakko pointed out. “In total, Libertarian candidates received 356,287 votes in 2016 – over 7.5% of all votes cast in those races.”
“Yet the election laws of the State of Arkansas say that’s not good enough to remain a state-recognized political party.” Pakko advocates a system such as that in other nearby states, where a party remains on the ballot for the next two electoral cycles if it achieves 2% of the vote in any statewide race.
After achieving ballot-access, the party will turn to recruiting candidates for the 2018 general elections. Pakko said that he expected some Libertarian candidates from the past to be running again in the upcoming election, but also appealed to new prospects: “If you believe that government should protect the rights of the individual, that people should be able to lead their lives however they see fit with minimal interference from government – if you believe that freedom and prosperity flourish in a world where markets are allowed to work and the U.S. is at peace with its neighbors and the world – then please consider joining the Libertarian Party of Arkansas, and running for office as a Libertarian.”