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Libertarian Party Not Dead, Thanks to Gary Johnson!

Hat tip to independent U.S. Senate candidate Kurt Evans, who is more keenly tuned to alternative-party news than I am!

Last week, following the official canvass of the general election, Secretary of State Shantel Krebs announced that the Libertarian and Constitution parties had lost their official party status, due to their failure to field candidates who could win at least 2.5% of the vote for a statewide office this year. A note to that effect still appears on the Secretary’s voter registration page:, screen cap, 2018.11.20., screen cap, 2018.11.20.

Oddly, that link is broken. Why is that?

Well, as ballot access watchdog Richard Winger points out, South Dakota’s party-recognition statute looks at the last two election cycles:

“Political party,” beginning with the 2014 general election and each general election thereafter, a party whose candidate for any statewide office received at least two and one-half percent of the total votes cast for that statewide office in either of the two previous general election cycles;… [SDCL 12-1-3(12)].

Libertarians crapped out this year, but in 2016, their statewide electors for Presidential candidate Gary Johnson won 5.63% of the vote. Winger thus concludes that statute still guarantees the Libertarians a place on the 2020 ballot. Secretary Krebs agrees:

UPDATE: an earlier version of the post said the Secretary of State hadn’t weighed in, but now the Secretary of State has e-mailed that she agrees and the Libertarian Party is on the 2020 ballot. Thanks to Lori Stacey for help with this [Richard Winger, “South Dakota Libertarian Party Is Still on Ballot,” Ballot Access News, 2018.11.20].

And sure enough, there the Libertarians are, back on the Secretary of State’s official party page (and shouldn’t we all have a party page?):, screen cap, 2018.11.20., screen cap, 2018.11.20.

Cool! The Libertarian Party’s latest official non-existence was shorter than IM22’s brief enactment in 2016!

The Constitution Party, alas, remains kaput. They got no one on the ballot this year, and in 2016, their Presidential electors for Darrell Castle only won 1.1%. To regain their party status, they’ll have to circulate a petition and collect 3,388 signatures (1% of this year’s gubernatorial vote) from registered voters. New parties need to file said petitions by March 31, 2020, to participate in the primary or by July 1, 2020, to place candidates on the November ballot by convention nomination.


  1. Kurt Evans 2018-11-20

    Cory writes:

    Libertarians crapped out this year …

    More than 5,000 South Dakota voters supported their local Libertarian candidates for the state legislature in 2018, which vastly exceeds the previous all-time high. I lucked into nearly five hours of candidate forum rebroadcasts on C-SPAN, and disappointing election returns notwithstanding, our congressional candidate George Hendrickson may have run the best statewide Libertarian campaign in South Dakota history.

    From my admittedly biased perspective, “crapped out” obviously seems a bit harsh, but thanks as always to Cory for continuing to cover South Dakota’s alternative parties and candidates.

  2. grudznick 2018-11-20

    Good news indeed. As a fellow with soft spots for the Libertarian party and many Libertarian friends, I am pleased.

  3. Debbo 2018-11-20

    I’d like Ms. Krebs to create a party page for me and my friends, please. 🙂

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-11-21

    I stand by “crapped out”. The fielding of Legislative candidates is a positive step, but Legislative candidates don’t count toward preserving party status, which is the focus of this post.

    Besides, the only Libertarian who exceeded what I would call the margin of error/”none of the above” was Gideon Oakes, and he still couldn’t outpoll the Democrat in District 30.

    I’ll need some criteria for deeming Hendrickson’s statewide campaign the “best” in SD Lib history. My first criterion is winning. Nope. Second criterion is affecting the outcome. Nope. My third criterion is polled higher than any past Libertarian statewide candidates. Nope.

    Can we say that Hendrickson got more press and sounded more reasonable that past Libertarians? Perhaps. But from a party organization standpoint, I want to see evidence that Hendrickson raised awareness of the party and its principles and set the stage for more Libertarians to run and vote in 2020.

  5. grudznick 2018-11-21

    There has been no Libertarian candidate who was as successful as my good friend Bob in raising awareness and getting some media attention for the party. Bob is the best.

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