On Friday, August 24, the Iowa Secretary of State notified the Gary Johnson campaign and the Iowa Libertarian Party that three Iowa voters had challenged Johnson’s position on the ballot. The challenge will be heard on Monday, August 27, at 3 p.m. central time, at the Lucas State Office Building.
The Iowa Libertarian Party has always placed nominees on the ballot using the independent candidate petition procedure, which permits use of a party label on the ballot other than just “independent.” Also, in recent presidential elections, the Iowa Libertarian Party had used stand-in presidential candidates on the petition, and substitutes the actual nominee when the petition is submitted. Iowa law permits stand-ins. This year, the party used Ed Clark as the stand-in presidential candidate on its petition. But, even though Clark signed all the paperwork before he left on his vacation to a foreign country, one of the pieces of paper he was supposed to sign was missed. When the Iowa Libertarian Party tried to turn in its petition, there was a discovery about the one missing piece of paper, which had to be signed by Ed Clark, and no ability for the party to obtain another signature from Clark in time for the deadline.
So, the party then used the other procedure for getting on the Iowa ballot, a convention of 250 attendees. The party did this by having an outdoor state convention on the grounds of the Iowa state fair. This is similar to how Washington state ballot access conventions are often held, and having an outdoor convention at which passers-by may sign is accepted in Washington state. In Iowa, the Socialist Party got on the ballot in 2008 using the convention method, holding an outdoor state convention on the campus of the University of Iowa.
The two voter-objectors say the type of convention used by the Iowa Libertarian Party this year is not valid. The matter will be heard by three elected statewide officials, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Auditor.
Iowa is the only state in the nation in which no minor party or independent presidential candidate who got at least one-fourth of 1% of the national popular vote (in the period ever since 1892, when government-printed ballots came into use) failed to appear on the ballot. The only exception to that statement is Strom Thurmond in 1948, but Thurmond generally didn’t care to get on the ballot in states outside the South. If Gary Johnson is kept off the Iowa ballot this year, that action would ruin Iowa’s unique historical record of including all significant minor party and independent presidential candidates on its ballot, if they wanted to be on the ballot.
In 1964, the Democratic Party of Iowa forgot to certify Lyndon Johnson’s name for the ballot by the deadline, but the Secretary of State put Johnson on the ballot anyway. Some voters sued the Iowa Secretary of State in 1964 and argued Johnson should be removed from the ballot. But the lower state court sided with the Secretary of State, and said, “The intent and spirit of the general election law, particularly as it relates to the presidential election is to allow the names of the nominees of all legitimate political party organizations to have their names on the ballot, to the end that the free will of the people may be expressed at the polls.” The case was Risher v Synhorst, Polk County District Court, Eq. 70105, decision of September 30, 1964. UPDATE: here is a short TV news story about the challenge.