Three Iowa Voters Challenge Gary Johnson Placement on Iowa Ballot

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.


  1. Casual Bystander · · Reply

    Richard… should the LP be worried about this? What are the chances this will knock the Johnson/Gray ticket off the ballot?

  2. […] Access News reports. This entry was posted in ballot access, third parties. Bookmark the permalink. ← […]

  3. Is their a deadline to challenge? Should virgil goode be worried someone will challenge his as well?

  4. Casual Bystander · · Reply

    BTW, at least two of the statewide officials hearing this are Democrats. The attorney general and the auditor are both Dems and I don’t know about the sec’y of state. If politics are going to figure into this I would think the advantage would go to the LP since most folks just assume LP votes would go Republican.

  5. Darcy G Richardson · · Reply

    I could be wrong, but I believe that the Secretary of State and the State Auditor are both Republicans. Partisanship shouldn’t matter — and wouldn’t — if Iowans had elected Jake Porter two years ago.

  6. Casual Bystander · · Reply

    If Michael Mauro is still the auditor then the Dems have two of the three. I went to the state website and looked up Miller (the attorney general) and Mauro (auditor) and they both had “D” after their name. I did not find the SoS.

  7. Darcy G Richardson · · Reply

    Matt Schultz defeated Mauro in 2010 and I believe the Republican candidate for State Auditor was also victorious.

  8. Casual Bystander · · Reply

    If it is 2-1 Republican then the LP is pretty much screwed.

  9. Richard Winger · · Reply

    If the panel rules against the Libertarian Party, the party could file a lawsuit. Iowa state courts have long been famous for their excellence. Iowa state courts were better on civil rights, in the 19th century, than the state courts of any other state. Iowa is proud of its State Supreme Court.

  10. Please explain:
    “the type of convention used by the Iowa Libertarian Party this year is not valid”

  11. Schultz the Secretary of State and Vaudt the State Auditor are both Republicans. I believe Vaudt has someone on his staff standing in for him though. Miller the Attorney General is a Democrat and is, in my opinion, a very fair and honest person based on the few times I have talked with him. Mauro was defeated by Schultz in 2010.

    And Darcy, many thanks for the kind words.

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