Third party Presidential candidates face many obstacles when running for the highest office in the land. Among those obstacles are ballot access restrictions, the public perception that they can’t win, and the lack of organizational and fundraising capabilities that could help them compete with the two major parties. Ballot access restrictions are probably the greatest obstacle. Each state has its own rules regarding who can and cannot get on a ballot for office. Some states require petitions to be filed with a certain minimum of signatures. Other states simply require a filing fee to ensure access. For the most part, the two major parties are required to get a smaller number of signatures than their third party counterparts when gaining access to a ballot. Ballot Access News provides a wealth of information on the difficulties that third party candidates face when running for office.
There is an upside though to third party Presidential candidacies. Ballot access restrictions can be waived for a third party in the next Presidential election if their candidate for President this year receives 5% of the vote. Five percent, according to the Federal Election Commission, is needed for major party recognition. Five percent not only waives the signature requirement, but it also guarantees federal financial assistance to that third party in the next Presidential election. This percentage may seem quite low, but recent history tells us that this threshold is quite difficult for third parties to meet.
Ralph Nader (Independent) 0.56%
Bob Barr (Libertarian) 0.40%
Chuck Baldwin (Constitution) 0.15%
Cynthia McKinney (Green) 0.12%
Nader (Independent) 0.38%
Michael Badnarik (Libertarian) 0.32%
Michael Peroutka (Constitution) 0.12%
David Cobb (Green) 0.10%
Nader (Green) 2.73%
Pat Buchanan (Reform) 0.43%
Harry Browne (Libertarian) 0.36%
Howard Phillips (Constitution) 0.09%
John Hagelin (Natural Law) 0.08%
What are your thoughts on the five percent rule? What information did you find on Ballot Access News that piqued your interest?