The rules and requirements for political parties

Welcome to the Tuesday, October 12 Brew. 

By: Doug Kronaizl

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. What does it take to start a political party?
  2. Map of the week: Statewide primaries by month in 2022
  3. Who is supporting, opposing the police staffing and training measure in Austin, Texas?

What does it take to start a political party?

On Oct. 5, Andrew Yang, a former Democratic candidate for mayor of New York and president of the United States, announced he was no longer registered as a Democrat and would form the Forward Party. 

According to its website, the Forward Party is “a PAC that plans to grow its support and then petition the FEC for recognition as a political party when we fulfill the requirements, which include operating in several states, supporting candidates, getting volunteers signed up around the country, and other party activities.”

In order to qualify for ballot placement, the Forward Party will have to meet certain requirements that vary from state to state. Let’s take a look at three:

  • In Colorado, there are three types of political entities: qualified political organizations (QPOs), minor parties, and major parties. Groups must begin as a QPO, which involves filing with the state and holding annual meetings to elect leaders and select candidates, at least one of whom must be certified for the general election ballot every two years. A QPO can become a minor party if one of its candidates receives at least five percent of the vote in a statewide election, if at least 1,000 voters register with it, or if it submits signatures from 10,000 registered voters. QPOs or minor parties become major parties if a candidate receives at least 10 percent of the total votes cast in a gubernatorial election.
  • In Texas, a group can form a political party by submitting organizational materials like bylaws, methods of selecting candidates, and a list of officers to the secretary of state.
  • In New York, a political party is defined as any political organization whose candidate for governor at the last preceding election received at least 130,000 votes or two percent of all votes cast for the office, whichever is greater. By this metric, a group cannot apply for party status before the election, but rather must field a candidate for governor through the independent nomination process and then receive the required number of votes.

The number of ballot-qualified political parties nationwide changes as parties gain or lose qualified status. As of Nov. 2020, there were 47 unique, individual parties across the country with 225 state-level ballot-qualified political party affiliates nationwide. This means that some parties are recognized in multiple states. For example, both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are recognized in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. These two parties account for 102 of the 225 total state-level parties. Three minor parties were recognized in more than 10 states as of Nov. 2020:

  • Libertarian Party: 35 states
  • Green Party: 22 states
  • Constitution Party: 15 states

In addition, some states distinguish between major parties and minor parties. Specific differences between major and minor parties differ from state to state. For example, in all states, major parties are granted access to primary elections. Some states, however, do not permit minor parties to participate in primary elections. Consequently, minor party candidates in these states can run only in general elections.

These are just a few of the rules and regulations Yang’s new Forward Party will need to navigate as the PAC begins to work towards party recognition.

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Map of the week: Statewide primaries by month in 2022

The 2022 primary election cycle kicks off in r March 2022 in two states: North Carolina and Texas. Voters use primary elections to select candidates who then advance to the general election. In most states, primaries are partisan, meaning voters of one party select their party’s candidate while voters of another party select theirs in their own, separate primaries.

Here’s a look at when states will be holding primaries in 2022 by month:

  • June: 18 states
  • August: 14 states
  • May: 11 states
  • September: 4 states
  • March: 2 states

One state—Louisiana—technically holds its primaries in November with all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, running on the same ballot. If a candidate receives over 50% of the vote, he or she wins outright, but if not, then the race advances to a runoff election in December between the top two vote-getters.

Not all of the election dates shown above are set in stone. States may choose to rearrange their election calendars compared to previous election cycles as we head into 2022.

Other issues might also cause a shift. For example, in Texas, lawmakers have already approved a bill that would allow the state to move its primary date if new redistricting maps are not selected by certain deadlines. The state will keep its place as having the earliest primary elections—March 1–only if a redistricting plan is adopted on or before Nov. 15. If the plan comes later than that, the primary would be moved to April 5 or May 24.

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Who is supporting, opposing the police staffing and training measure in Austin, Texas?

Voters in Austin, Texas, will decide Proposition A on Nov. 2. The citizen initiative would establish a minimum police staffing requirement of two police officers for every 1,000 city residents. It would also require an additional 40 hours of training for officers each year and provide police with pay boosts for being proficient in non-English languages and being recognized for honorable conduct.

Two groups—Save Austin Now and No Way on A—have organized as the leading supporters and opponents of the measure, respectively.


Save Austin Now was co-founded by Matt Mackowiak, chairman of the Travis County Republican Party, and includes Ken Casady, president of the Austin Police Association, as a board member. 

The group has raised $2.0 million through the end of September and has spent around $1.8 million leaving them with roughly $200,000 cash on hand.

Top donors included Charles Maund Toyota, a local car dealership, which donated $100,000. Danielle Royston, a telecommunications executive, donated $98,000 and Joe Liemandt, a software executive, gave $75,000.

Save Austin Now also sponsored the measure banning camping in public places that Austin voters approved on May 1, 2021.


No Way on A is funded by the Equity PAC. The group launched in early September and reported at least $860,000 raised through the end of the month. 

The Open Society Policy Center, a nonprofit founded and chaired by investor George Soros, contributed $500,000 to the campaign on Sept. 27. The nonprofit also donated $500,000 to support Minneapolis’ Question 2, an initiative on that city’s Nov. 2 ballot to replace the Minneapolis Police Department with a department of public safety.

The campaign also reported a $200,000 contribution from the Fairness Project, a nonprofit that has supported minimum wage, paid time off, and Medicaid expansion initiatives in at least a dozen states since 2016.

Additional opponents of Proposition A include Austin Mayor Stephen Adler (D), the Travis County Democratic Party, the Austin Firefighters Association, and Black Lives Matter Austin.

Austin voters will also decide Proposition B on the Nov. 2 ballot, which concerns the city selling or leasing nine acres of parkland through a public bidding process.

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