Libertarians Sue State Of Maine In Federal Court Over Benchmarks To Qualify As A Party

Nov 7, 2019

The Libertarian Party is suing the state of Maine in federal court over its benchmarks for qualifying political parties in state elections.

Voters outside Grace Baptist Church in Portland in June 2014
Credit Tom Porter / Maine Public

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says he has not seen the lawsuit, but simply followed the law when he decertified the libertarians last year.

“The law says that if you don’t have that threshold by a certain date, than the people that signed up now become automatically unenrolled,” he says. “I think they are aggrieved by that, but that is what the courts are for, to sort these things out.”

For a party to qualify, Maine law says it must enroll at least 5,000 members in the year leading up to a statewide general election. And by the next general election the party must have at least doubled that number of voters to maintain its officials status. The Libertarian Party failed to garner 10,000 votes in last year’s election and was decertified.

Their lawsuit claims that the threshold is unfair to smaller parties.

“These levels were set by Republican and Democrat legislators who don’t want the competition, when it comes right down to it,” says Jim Haines, the chair of Maine Libertarian Party. “They want to eliminate choice.”

Updated Nov. 8, 2019 at 5:12 a.m. ET.