Libertarians earn spots on 2018 ballot
For the fourth consecutive election cycle, the Libertarian Party of Arkansas has been declared a “new political party.”
Secretary of State Mark Martin’s office certified in a letter Monday that the party collected enough valid signatures to qualify for ballot access statewide.
The state Libertarian Party has never met a threshold set in Arkansas law to automatically retain ballot access — as have the state Republican and Democratic parties — and avoid a petition process.
Michael Pakko, chair of the Libertarian Party of Arkansas, would like to see the state’s process change.
“As far as ballot access goes, we really haven’t made much progress there,” he said. “I think the weakest part of the whole system of ballot access is it’s limited to one single office. If you don’t get 3 percent of the vote at the top of the ticket, then you’re not a political party.”
In Arkansas, a party needs to obtain 3 percent of the total votes cast for the office of governor or nominees for presidential electors at the first general election after certification to retain ballot access.
In 2016, the party’s candidate, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, received 2.6 percent of the vote in Arkansas. In 2012, he received 1.5 percent of the vote. So last month, the party submitted more than 15,000 signatures to the secretary of state’s office to become a “new political party.” The office’s certification means that at least 10,000 were valid — the requirement for starting any new political party.