On December 27, the Maryland Libertarian Party filed a lawsuit against the Maryland law on how parties remain on the ballot. Johnston v Lamone, 1:18cv-3988.
Six states use both a party petition, and also registration data, as alternative means to determine if a party should either get on the ballot or remain on the ballot. But Maryland is the only one of those six in which the number of signatures on the party petition is lower than the number of registrations needed. There is a consensus that a voter’s signature on a party petition only reflects the slightest commitment to that party, but registration membership shows a real commitment by that voter. Therefore, it is utterly irrational for Maryland to require 10,000 signatures on a petition, as applied to a party that has more than 10,000 registered members.
The Maryland Libertarian Party has 22,338 registered members, but it was removed from the ballot last month because it failed to get as much as 1% for Governor, and because its registration is less than 1% of the state total (which would be 40,185 registered members). The Complaint argues that it is absurd for a party with 22,000 registered members to be required to collect 10,000 signatures to get back on the ballot for 2020. It is obvious that at least 10,000 Maryland voters want the party on the ballot.
The complaint also challenges the law that required signatures on a petition to exactly match the form of that voter’s name as shown on voter registration records. If a voter is registered as “Thomas J. Smith” but he signs “Tom Smith”, his signature is invalid, even if the address matches. The Libertarian Party in November 2018 polled 1.00% for U.S. Senate, and 1.88% for US House in the state as a whole. It had nominees in all 8 U.S. House districts and all of them exceeded 1% of the vote. But the votes for U.S. Senate and U.S. House don’t count.