Lib­er­tar­i­ans earn spots on 2018 bal­lot

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - BRIAN FANNEY

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.

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