Is Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will be on the ballot in Pennsylvania?

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced that the vote would be held in all 50 states.

With six months to go before the elections, he officially did so in seven of them.

Whether he is successful in the remaining states, especially key swing states like Pennsylvania, could have a major impact on the election.

A Philadelphia Inquirer/New York Times/Siena College poll conducted last week found a deadly conflict between President Joe Biden, 81, and former President Donald Trump, 77, with 10% of registered voters supporting Kennedy. ego (70 years ancient).

Although it is true it’s unclear whether Kennedy will draw more support from Biden or Trumpin a close race, a third-party candidate with higher-than-typical support can tip the scales. In 2020, Pennsylvania was chosen by just over 1 percentage point.

Biden’s campaign has already launched an offensive against Kennedy, hosting a campaign event in North Philadelphia last month at which members of the Kennedy family endorsed the president.

Election law experts say Kennedy’s chances of getting on the Pennsylvania ballot will depend largely on the extent of his canvassing activities and legal support, as Democrats are expected to challenge his access to the ballot.

Requirements to get on the ballot in 2024 in Pennsylvania

Independent and third party nominated candidates must submit a ballot access petition by August 1. As an independent, Kennedy Jr. must submit 5,000 signatures of registered voters and pay the state $200.

That’s a relatively low threshold in the nation’s sixth most populous state. Delaware, which has a fraction of Pennsylvania’s population, sets the signature threshold at 1% of registered voters, which in this election is more than 7,600. Missouri, which has about half Pennsylvania’s population, has a threshold of 10,000 residents.

Petition signers can be from anywhere in Pennsylvania, affiliated with a political party, or unaffiliated.

A Kennedy campaign spokesman said volunteers would soon begin collecting signatures in Pennsylvania. Campaigns could start filling them in mid-February.

Kennedy’s campaign is focusing first on the states where the deadlines are closest. The campaign was also submitted close to or on time, giving opponents less time to pursue challenges.

“We have field teams, volunteers, legal teams, paid distributors, supporters and strategists ready to do the work,” campaign press secretary Stefanie Spear said in a release after Kennedy qualified for the ballot in Delaware earlier this month.

Kennedy’s Pennsylvania petition signatures will have to survive, as expected legal challenges from the Democratic National Committee or outside groups. The DNC has launched an offensive against Kennedy, placing mobile billboards in areas where he is campaigning criticizing Kennedy for receiving donations from Trump donors.

“We expect the 2024 elections to be close and will be prepared for any eventuality, which will include ensuring that third-party independent candidates follow the rules,” DNC spokesman Matt Corridoni said. “We will also work to define Robert Kennedy and make sure voters know he is a spoiler in this race.”

The scope for filing a legal challenge will be relatively narrow because Pennsylvania counties will have to start sending out absentee ballots by mid-September.

Kennedy’s campaign told CNN its goal is to collect 60% more signatures than required in each state to prevent invalid signatures from undermining the petition.

Each state has ballot access requirements, so the effort is costly and requires expertise and consultants to launch canvassing campaigns across the country.

“It certainly can be done, it’s just a matter of how much money you’re willing to put down to get it done,” said Matt Wolfe, a Republican Party lawyer in Philadelphia who practices campaign law.

It’s unclear whether the Trump campaign or the Republican National Convention will challenge Kennedy.

“If Democrats are going to spend all this money to get him off the ballot, there’s certainly no reason why Republicans should spend their resources on it, even if they have the same concerns as I do about who it will really hurt,” he said Wolfe.

Independent candidates in Pennsylvania have it easier than they used to, but challenges still exist

In 2018, Pennsylvania changed requirements for third-party candidates to get on the ballot after a lawsuit filed by the Green Libertarian and Constitutional Party found the requirements too burdensome.

Previously, the signature threshold was 2% of the votes cast for the statewide vote-getter in the last election in which a statewide race was contested.

In Kennedy’s case, that would mean about 33,000 signatures, or the number the leading state Supreme Court vote-getter would receive in 2023, instead of the current 5,000.

There is a chance someone will question whether Kennedy’s candidacy is covered by the state court’s ruling for the three smaller parties running because he is not a member of any of them.

The State Department said it would apply the change granted to these three parties to all minor parties and independent candidates, but warned that voters could object, in which case it would be up to the court to decide whether Kennedy must meet this requirement under Pennsylvania law.

“It is still not easy to circulate petitions on behalf of any candidate, especially third-party candidates; they don’t have the same party resources and institutional know-how as established candidates,” said Zach Wallen, an elections lawyer based in Pittsburgh.

Kennedy Jr. campaign has has won a number of legal victories in other states.

His lawyers managed to get Utah to postpone its petition filing deadline and Idaho to change its petition collection statute. In Hawaii, the campaign defended the state Democratic Party’s call to invalidate Kennedy’s petition.

But Kennedy also faced some problems after a super PAC supporting his American Values ​​2024 campaign launched an eight-figure signature-gathering plan on Kennedy’s behalf. After the DNC filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging illegal coordination, the PAC had to suspend its efforts.

In what states did Robert F. Kennedy Jr. took part in the vote?

RFK Jr. was on the ballot in seven states: Utah, Michigan, CaliforniaDelaware, Oklahoma, Hawaii and Texas.

The campaign says it has collected enough signatures to gain access to ballots in eight other states – New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, Idaho, Nebraska, Iowa, Ohioand starting Thursday in New Jersey.

In some states, Kennedy has teamed up with lesser-known smaller parties to bypass some signature-gathering requirements.

He will appear on the Michigan ballot for the Natural Law Party, a party known for promoting transcendental meditation. In Delaware, he is running as a candidate of the Independent Party of Delaware, and in California he is taking part in the vote American Independent Partya group formed in the 1960s to promote Alabama Governor George Wallace’s 1968 third-party bid.

Kennedy acknowledged that the party had a racist history, but stated that the party had been reborn.

If Kennedy does get on the ballot, who will he hurt?

While Democrats seem much more concerned about Kennedy’s candidacy, it’s unclear from polls whether an independent candidate hurts Biden more than Trump.

In NYT/Siena polls in all six swing states — including Pennsylvania, where The Inquirer was a partner — Kennedy voters were evenly split between Trump and Biden if forced to choose the primary candidate.

Most Kennedy supporters say the interest in Kennedy reflects dissatisfaction with the two main candidates.

“The most important thing is age,” said Cameron Kuipers, a 29-year-old accountant from Pittsburgh who participated in the Pennsylvania poll. He planned to vote for Kennedy after endorsing Trump in 2020 due to the ages of the two major party candidates.

“At some point, older isn’t always better,” he said.

The New York Times’ Shivani Gonzalez contributed to this article.

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