Texans could see up to eight parties on the ballot in November, but more than 235K voters will have to sign their petitions first.
Five political parties filed paperwork with the Secretary of State’s office as a first step toward gaining spots on the ballot. The America’s Party of Texas, Christian Party of Texas, Green Party of Texas, None of the Above and Texas Independent Party each must collect at least 47,183 valid signatures during a 75-day period beginning in mid-March. Signatures must come from registered voters who did not participate in any other primary’s primary or convention.
The Republican, Democratic and Libertarian Parties already have guaranteed access to the ballot, because at least one of their statewide candidates received at least 5% of the vote in the 2016 general election. The Green Party lost access to the ballot in 2018 when none of its statewide candidates received at least 5% in the last general election.
Candidates filed with at least three of the petitioning parties. We have previously reported on the four candidates who filed to run under the Green Party banner. Seventeen filed for state and federal office with the None of the Above party, and two filed with the America’s Party of Texas. All of these candidates are listed in our Crib Sheets. Their party labels are GRN, NOTA and APT, respectively.
We sent an email to the Christian Party of Texas inquiring about candidates but have not heard back. The Texas Independent Party does not have appear to have any candidates running in Texas this year.
America’s Party of Texas is an affiliate of the America’s Party, which was founded in 2008 to “return our nation to a set of foundational principles.” The party takes no donations. Its longtime state chairman, Andy Prior, stepped aside to run for Land Commissioner. In a recent interview on Raging Elephants Radio, Prior discussed the state’s ballot access laws, which he called the “most stacked deck” in the country, and expressed hope that a lawsuit might loosen those laws.
The Christian Party of Texas is headed by Clell Drumheller, and it is an affiliate of the Christian Party of America, also headed by Drumheller. The party shows periodic activity. The most recent official monthly newsletter posted to its web site is dated September 2015. Drumheller is also the state coordinator for the Citizens Constitutional Caucus and a former state chairman of the Constitution Party of Texas. He appears to have been a Constitution Party candidate for HD130 in 2008, but the party did not achieve ballot access.
The None of the Above party has a nine-point platform focused on ballot access, voter registration, independent redistricting process and other election reforms. Item 1 is a “binding ‘None of the above’ option in every public election.” At least two of its candidates have run under the Green Party banner in previous elections. Gubernatorial candidate Adrian Boutureira was a field organizer for Green Party nominee Jill Stein’s 2016 presidential campaign.
The Texas Independent Party appears to be an affiliate of a Fort Worth-based national effort to promote the 2020 presidential candidacy of Terry Wheelock, who previously established federal campaign committees for presidential runs as an independent in 2012 and 2016. An earlier incarnation was a party in a largely unsuccessful mid-1990s lawsuit seeking to overturn state law requiring declarations of intent, nominating conventions and submitting voter signatures with petitions for ballot access. The suit ended a requirement that voter registration numbers be included in those petitions (Current law requires either the voter registration number or the voter’s birth date.).
We do not have historical data to calculate minor parties’ success rate in gaining ballot access, but it can’t be good. Aside from the Libertarian and Green Parties, the Natural Law Party is the last minor party to put candidates for state and federal office on the ballot. It ran 17 candidates for Congress, one statewide candidate, three candidates for the State Board of Education and nine legislative candidates in 1996. The U.S. Taxpayer Party obtained ballot access for its presidential candidate in 1996, but no other candidates ran for federal or state office in Texas under its banner. H. Ross Perot’s Reform Party failed to achieve ballot access for his presidential bids in 1992 and 1996. He appeared on ballots here as an independent candidate.
Unlike the other four applicants, the Green Party seeks to regain access it lost. It has happened before. The Green Party lost ballot access after the 2002 general election, when none of its statewide candidates reached the 5% threshold for automatic ballot access. It did not return to the ballot until 2010, when an out-of-state corporation paid a professional firm more than $500K to gather 92K signatures, which it turned over to the party.
The Libertarian Party, Green Party, America’s Party of Texas and Constitution Party are part of a coalition seeking to reduce ballot access requirements for minor parties and independent candidates. The House Elections Committee took public testimony on House Bill 3086 at its April 24, 2017, hearing, The bill, authored by Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City), would have reduced signature requirements, extended the deadline, permitted primary voters to sign petitions and authorized petitions to be signed online. It did not receive a committee vote. The coalition, Texans for Voter Choice, plans to advocate for these reforms again in 2019.
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