AUGUSTA, Maine — A bid to create a Libertarian Party in Maine is moving forward, with organizers reporting they have registered enough Libertarians to meet the 5,000-person threshold described in the law.
Jorge Maderal of Brunswick, chairman of a nonprofit organization called the Libertarian Party of Maine Inc., said Monday his organization has met the challenge.
“By all accounts, we seem to have more than enough [voter registrations] turned in,” Maderal said in an email Monday to the Bangor Daily News.
New Maine Libertarian Party Chairman Chris Lyons of Brunswick said he was informed by the Maine attorney general’s office Tuesday that the party had “comfortably exceeded” the threshold.
Kristen Muszynski of the secretary of state’s office said Tuesday that it may be a few days before the office can confirm whether the Libertarians met their goal because it will take time for towns across Maine to add the registrations to the state’s central voter database.
Efforts to form the party have been underway since early 2015 but ended up in court earlier this year after the state rejected nearly 2,000 registrations because they could not be verified as having previously been registered Maine voters.
Under Maine law, the process to form a new political party begins with the registration of at least 5,000 voters in the party, followed by the requirement that at least 10,000 registered voters from the new party vote in the next general election.
“It’s been a very exciting last three weeks,” Lyons, a building and landscaping contractor, said. “Because of our success, now we have both the support of the presidential campaign and the national Libertarian party.”
That means the fledgling party in Maine will have financial and personnel support to help register, according to Lyons, at least 7,000 more new Libertarians. He said the party has had only two paid staff in recent weeks and that more than 60 percent of the registrations since the court case were from people who went to their town offices on their own.
The Libertarians appealed the state’s rejection of its bid in January, and the court initially ruled against the party. However, the court overturned its decision in May, after arguments by the Libertarians’ attorney. The court restored 4,513 registrations that previously were deemed valid and gave Maderal and his group until July 12 to top the 5,000 threshold.
Muszynski said that as of Friday, which was the last time the voter database was checked, the Libertarians had garnered 388 new registrations of the 487 they need to reach 5,000.
Nationally, the Libertarian Party is running former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld as its presidential ticket.
If the party can retain its status in Maine in November, that means state and local Libertarian candidates can appear on Maine’s ballots as Libertarians, instead of as unenrolled candidates, as is now the case.
“It’s a watershed year for Libertarians,” Lyons said. “The presumed presidential nominees, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, are the most disliked presidential candidates in the history of the country. If we have more competition in our political process, we will make each other better.”