Thank you for your interesting question. The political system in the
United States does not make it particularly easy for someone wishing
to form a new party. Even though it is not impossible, in practice in
demands lots of resources, and the structure of the system usually
hinders any substential political gains for small actors.
Consequently, many groups tend to form themselves as lobbies, pressure
groups or social movements - that would effect the big parties - than
to establish a new party.
I am not telling all of this in order to discourage you, but in order
for you to know the hardships of the process you're getting into.
Step I: Deciding on a name and appointing temporary officials
Your first step in founding a new party is to decide on a name and
appoint temporary officials, in a congregation of all founders. This
is the first party "convention", and dspite the pompous name, it could
be a meeting held anywhere, as soon as it is a meeting of the founders
of the party. The name, of course, cannot be used by any other
qualified political party. You can't devide that your party would be
named "The Republican Party", as I have heard that this name is
What is a "Qualified" Party?
Basically, it is a party that could run in the primary level. However,
the definitions change, and basically, it means a party, whose
candidates already shown some success, and that has a certain
percentage of voters. In California, that means, any party that has
registered with the Secretary of State.
In California, the qualified parties are currently:
- American Independent
- Natural Law
- Peace and Freedom
Step II: Registering this name with the Secretary of State
Your next step is to register your new party. Your letter should include:
- Names and addresses of temporary party officials
- Name of the party.
- Constitution or Bylaws. Your party's ideology shouldn't be contra to
the laws of the state (or the country), which basically means it
doesn't promote illegal practices or the overthrow of the regime.
Please note, that if your party is after changing laws in the
country/state (for example, many small new parties are supporting
legalisation of illegal drugs), it doesn't mean you're "supporting
illegal practices". In fact, you're trying to change the laws in a
democratic process, and in theory not support any violation of the
The California Law on Registering a New Party
The law, in this case, says:
"5001. Whenever a group of electors desires to qualify a new political
party meeting the requirements of Section 5100, that group shall form
a political body by:
(a) Holding a caucus or convention at which temporary officers shall
be elected and a party name designated, which name shall not conflict
with that of any existing party or political body that has previously
filed notice pursuant to subdivision (b).
(b) Filing formal notice with the Secretary of State that the
political body has organized, elected temporary officers, and declared
an intent to qualify a political party pursuant to Section 5100. The
notice shall include the names and addresses of the temporary officers
of the political body."
(SOURCE: California Election Code, Division 5, Ch. 1. Available Online
at California Secretary of State,
Sounds easy so far, huh?
Am I a Qualified Party Now? Could I Participate in the Elections Now?
In order to participate in the elections, you have to have a certain
number of supporters, which you hand in as a "proof" to the Secretary
of State. All of this must be done by the 135th day before the next
following primary election [in our case - March 2, 2004].
Number of Supporters
As you've seen before, a proof of the number of supporters is
essential. There are two ways, in which the party could qualify and
later participate in the elections:
By registration - of a certain number (1% of the registered voters) of
people who claim to be affiliated with the new party.
By petition - of a certain number (10% of the registered voters) of
people who are supporting this new party.
Today, these figures are pretty high:
"To qualify a new political party by registration requires that 77,389
persons (one percent) complete an affidavit of registration, on which
they have written in the proposed party name as the party they
affiliate with. These affidavits of registration must be completed and
mailed in by the 154th day before the primary election.
To qualify a new political party by petition requires that 773,883
persons (ten percent) sign a petition seeking the inclusion of the
proposed party in the party nominating process at the March 2, 2004
primary election. These petitions must be filed with the several
counties by the proponent in such time that the counties verify the
signatures and certify the counts to the Secretary of State who
certifies the proposed party's qualification not later than the 135th
day before the primary election."
You could start collecting the signatures before you make the initial
registeration described in step II, if you file such a request at the
Secretary of State, not more than 70 days after the initial
registration, on your intent to qualify.
Here is a list of parties who are currently not qualified, despite
completing steps I and II - Non-Qualified Political Parties
Step III: After the Party Qualifies
After you've passed this hurdle, you must elect permanent officials,
and notify the Secretary of State. This must be done before February
1st of the Presidential Primary Year.
Naturally, candidates who do not belong to a qualified party, could
run either as non-partisan candidates or as minor party candidates
with about the same consequences.
Here are the requirements for candidates:
Whom to Contact
California Secretary of State
1500 11th Street
Sacramento, California 95814
Main Number: (916) 657-2166
TDD Only - No Charge To Calling Party: (800) 833-8683
Voter Fraud Hotline: (800) 345-8683 / (800) 345-VOTE
Links and further information
DC Political Report <http://www.dcpoliticalreport.com/PartyLink.htm> -
a list of minor parties in the U.S.
Online Guide to California Politics <http://www.politics1.com/ca.htm>
Ballot Access for American Political Parties More Generally
POLITICAL PARTIES IN THE UNITED STATES
By John F. Bibby
In other states:
Party Formation in Iowa
The Beginning of the Libertarian Party of Minnesota
Political Parties in Maryland - Maryland State Board of Elections - ??
4-102. New political parties.
(1) The Law <http://www.ncleg.net/Statutes/GeneralStatutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_163/GS_163-96.html>
(2) PETITION TO CREATE A NEW POLITICAL PARTY
Montana - Section 115-315 New political party, how formed
District of Columbia
I hope this answered your question. Please contact me if you need any
clarifications on this answer before you rate it.
[minor political party] [new poltical party] (and of course, without
the term "political") AND [California] AND [names of provisions, decrees, etc.]