Michigan Libertarian Party State Convention Takes Action to Guarantee Gary Johnson is on the November Ballot

On June 2, the Michigan Libertarian Party held its state convention and nominated candidates for presidential elector. Party representatives will hand-deliver the nomination documents to the Secretary of State on Monday, June 4. The party’s documents certify that the presidential elector candidates are pledged to Gary Johnson who lives in New Mexico. But the party’s documents also say that if the Secretary of State sticks to her position of refusing to allow that, and if no court intervenes, then in that case the party’s presidential elector candidates are pledged to Gary E. Johnson of Austin, Texas.

Gary Johnson, the national Libertarian Party presidential nominee, was on the ballot in the February 2012 Republican presidential primary ballot in Michigan. The Secretary of State is interpreting Michigan law to mean that, therefore, the Libertarian Party is forbidden to nominate Johnson.

Gary E. Johnson of Austin, Texas, is a long-time active Libertarian Party leader in Texas. He attended the recent national convention in Las Vegas and has said he consents to being the party’s nominee for president, in Michigan only, if necessary. However, if the Secretary of State doesn’t relent, first there will be a lawsuit. The Secretary of State’s position is very weak. The law hasn’t changed since before 1980, and in 1980 the former Secretary of State, Richard Austin, interpreted the state’s “sore loser” law not to apply to presidential primaries. Therefore, he printed John B. Anderson’s name on the November 1980 ballot in Michigan even though Anderson had run in the 1980 Republican presidential primary. The Secretary of State disavows this precedent on the grounds that in 1980, Michigan didn’t have procedures for independent presidential candidates, something that is irrelevant, and also not true. Michigan did have procedures in 1980 for independent presidential candidates; they were court-imposed, not statutory, but they still existed.

In all history, no minor party has ever had its presidential nominee kept off any state’s general election ballot on the grounds that the nominee had run in a major party presidential primary. Minor and new parties that have nominated presidential nominees who had run that year in a major party primary include the Progressive “Bull Moose” Party of 1912, the Farmer-Labor and Socialist Parties in 1924, the National Economic Recovery Party of 1988, and the Populist Party of 1988.


  1. Raymond Agnew · · Reply

    Whatever happened to Freedom of Assosation in the first amendment of the Bill of Rights? The Libertarian Party Needs a Ballot access Super PAC to fight all of this B.S. & to get on the ballot in the 23 remaining states to get on the ballot in all 50 states by their deadlines.

  2. #1, you raise a very good point. There are lots of arguments that the Secretary of State is wrong. My list is by no means inclusive.

  3. Nick Kruse · · Reply

    @1, Super PACs can only run ads in favor or in opposition of a candidate. They cannot help with ballot access, because that would require “coordinating”.

  4. #3, actually, it is possible for independent groups to help with ballot access. In 2004, the Ralph Nader independent presidential petition in Michigan was circulated by people who had no connection with Nader at all, and Nader didn’t want them to do that petition. Nader argued he should be on the ballot in Michigan automatically because the Reform Party was on the ballot in Michigan, and the Reform Party national convention had nominated Nader in 2004. But the Secretary of State claimed she couldn’t tell who the bona fide officers of the Michigan Reform Party were. One set of state party officers certified Nader, but the other set claimed the party didn’t want a presidential nominee. So in the end Nader was kept off the ballot as the Reform Party nominee, but he was on as an independent presidential candidate because of the independent group that had circulated it. Democrats challenged the independent petition, but the State Court of Appeals ruled that groups can petition for an independent candidate whether the independent candidate likes it or not. Deleeuw v Canvassers Board, 688 NW 2d 847.

  5. Raymond Agnew · · Reply

    I hear you Richard, I’ve bin in the LP for 20 years now & the One Party system is a B#tch & over the last 20 years I would like to thank you for Ballot Access News & your outstanding work on it, you have given me a great education over that amount of time when in 1992 I first bought a subscription to it and received it in the mail. Thank You Sir.

  6. Nick Kruse · · Reply

    @4, I didn’t say there weren’t any ways for independent groups to help with ballot access. What I said was that the super PAC process created from Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission is only for running ads.

  7. Raymond Agnew · · Reply

    So then it has to be a seprate fund with no ties to any political party just a Independent non party Ballot access fund for the gound troops of that party to use as an Independent Group,anything to gum up the works, Man The One Party System really like those road blocks for 3rd party ballot access, So Much for The Bill Of Rights & The 1st amendment again.

  8. raymond · · Reply

    I am tired of the D and R saying they are part of the 99% when they aren’t. People need to vote for the candidate who is for the people not for the big money. http://davisforwvhouse.webs.com

  9. Jeremy K · · Reply

    Good thing the nominee isn’t Horatio Fabian Schongleworp.

  10. George Whitfield · · Reply

    Thank you to both Gary Johnson’s.

  11. Frederick Douglass · · Reply

    Love those crafty smart Libertarians!!!

  12. Why is it that a politician shouldn’t declare for the party he ACTUALLY WISHES TO RUN UNDER at the outset instead of hopping around like a Mad Hatter — or rank opportunist?

    Exactly who’s responsibility is this here? It’s not like these laws were SURPRISES you know. If Gary Johnson REALLY wanted to be the Libertarian Nominee, why didn’t he run as one from the outset?

    Nobody’s asked him that.

    Why not?

  13. Richard Winger · · Reply

    If politicians couldn’t switch parties, it would be impossible to ever displace old major parties with new parties. The Republican Party got off to a strong start in the summer of 1854 because hundreds of congressmen and state legislators switched from the Whig Party to the Republican Party. Similarly, the 1912 Progressive Party, which elected members of Congress and state legislators in many states, could not have done that without persuading many Republican politicians to switch parties.

    Ronald Reagan switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party in the early 1960’s. Dwight Eisenhower switched from being an independent to being a Republican in 1952, the very year the Republican Party nominated him for President. Franklin D. Roosevelt started out in life as a Republican. John Anderson was a life-long Republican who became an independent. Switching shows that a person is still thinking, and is just as honorable in politics as it is in religion.

  14. Demo Rep · · Reply

    Every election is N-E-W and has ZERO to do with any stuff since the alleged Big Bang an alleged zillion zillion years ago.
    Equal ballot access laws for all candidates for the same office in the same election area.

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

    Much too difficult for the EVIL stupid brain dead robot party hack judge MORONS in the courts — partisan and allegedly nonpartisan — much evil worse than the moron lawyers in ballot access cases since 1968.

    i.e. too many mindless IDIOTS to count — putting their EVIL ANTI-Democracy robotic junk on paper in ballot access cases — since they can NOT detect *equal* in 14th Amdt, Sec. 1 — since they are evil moron party hacks.

  15. Chris Sharer · · Reply

    @12: Gary Johnson has been asked and has answered why he started as a republicrat and why he switched. His GOP credentials were as good as anyone in the race and better than most. He built his business from a one-man operation to employing 1,000 people. He was a popular 2 term (limited) Governor. He had executive experience it the private sector and in the public sector. So why was he included in only 2 of the 6 or 8 national debates during his run in the GOP primary? Because he is not a controlled (or controllable) tool of the establishment. He doesn’t support the status quo of grow and grow and grow the size and scope of government. GOP politicians are only paying lips service to cuts and downsizing. Even the radical extreme social darwinism Paul Ryan budget will grow the government and never balance the budget. Ron Paul or Gary Johnson would slash the federal government down to its legitimate constitutional authority and so TPTB are RUNNING SCARED.

  16. Joshua · · Reply

    Ironically, if John Anderson had been kept off the ballot in 1980 for the same reason, I’m sure that he could have found another person named John Anderson to fill in for him, too.

    On the other hand, someone with a name like Spiro Agnew or Estes Kefauver would have been ill-advised to switch parties in the midst of an election campaign.

  17. Jim Riley · · Reply

    #13 I think the system in California is reasonable. Candidates can’t switch parties between the primary and the general election.

    Once States switch to a direct primary for presidential elections, the problem is solved.

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