allies Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is taking a big step to get him on the presidential ballot in several key battlegrounds to begin mass-circulating petitions to submit on behalf of an independent candidate, hiring multiple signature-gathering vendors.
According to Tony Lyons, the group’s co-founder, American Values 2024, a super PAC supporting Kennedy, has formally contracted with three firms to collect voter signatures in Arizona, Georgia and Michigan.
Recruiters will begin collecting signatures in Georgia on January 20, with efforts in Arizona and Michigan to begin soon. Lyons said he would fund and lead a signature-gathering charge for Kennedy in the 10 states with the largest thresholds of required voter petitions.
Although Kennedy is a long-shot candidate, his appearance on the ballot in close-fought states could have a big impact on the outcome of the presidential election. Supporters of both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have expressed concern that Kennedy could win support from their running mate in the general election.
Kennedy’s campaign committee did not employ paid signature gatherers, instead working to build a volunteer apparatus to carry out the petition effort.
“Right now we’re relying on our volunteers and we feel like we have a large enough base to get the petitions we need in every state,” said Stephanie Spear, a spokeswoman for Kennedy’s campaign. “If we need paid applicants, we will definitely make contracts.”
The number of signatures required for a ballot varies greatly from state to state. Kennedy has so far qualified for the Utah ballot, where only 1,000 verified signatures are required.
But according to the Arizona secretary of state, for example, the threshold required to vote for president as an independent candidate is 3% of the total number of registered voters, which requires more than 128,000 signatures. The application deadline is August 17. Independent candidates must file in Georgia and Michigan in July.
In most states, the petition requirements for independent presidential candidates are significantly stricter than for those running against one of the major political parties. For example, a Democratic or Republican presidential candidate in Arizona only needs to submit 500 voter signatures.
Officials with the pro-Kennedy super PAC said they plan to spend $15 million on get-out-the-ballot efforts in December. Lyons said the group currently has between $20 million and $30 million in its coffers.
The super PAC is targeting some of the most competitive states in the 2020 election — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Nevada — as well as Colorado, Illinois, Indiana and New York. It will also lead efforts for the two states with the highest required thresholds: California (219,000) and Texas (113,000).
“We chose to go after these critical states, some of which are battleground states because of the complexity of state election codes and the volume of signatures needed to gain ballot access,” said Deirdre Goldfarb, the super PAC’s special counsel for ballot access. December press release.
Spear, a spokesman for the Kennedy campaign, said his operation will continue to mobilize its volunteer base to circulate petitions for Kennedy in all 50 states and in Washington, D.C.
“We don’t strategize or talk with the PAC,” Spear said. “They’re going to do what they’re going to do. And we will do what we will do.”
Evan McMullin, a Republican-turned-independent who ran for president in 2016 as a conservative alternative to Donald Trump, managed to win the right to vote in only 11 states. Four years later, rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, failed in multiple states to collect enough petitions to officially become independent.