Template:Political parties summary
As of July 2014, there are 34 distinct officially recognized political parties in the 50 states and Washington, D.C. Counting the total number of instances of a recognized party, there are 220 total parties in the 50 states (and Washington D.C.). For example, the Democratic and Republican parties are recognized in all 50 states plus D.C., which accounts for 102 of the 220 total parties. This figure is based upon the number of officially recognized political parties and does not include situations where a candidate chooses a party designation or party label to appear next to their name on the ballot. For example, candidates have appeared in Washington under the designation "Happiness Party." That does not signify an actual political party -- rather, it is the label chosen by a candidate to appear next to his or her name on the ballot.
Three minor parties are recognized in more than 10 states:
|Total state affiliates for each political party|
|Alaskan Independence Party||1|
|American First Party||1|
|American Party of South Carolina||1|
|Connecticut Independent Party||1|
|Delaware Independent Party||1|
|Hawaii Independent Party||1|
|Independence Party of Minnesota||1|
|Independent American Party||4|
|Liberty Union Party||1|
|Natural Law Party||2|
|Oregon Independent Party||1|
|Oregon Progressive Party||1|
|Peace and Freedom Party||2|
|Socialism and Liberation Party||1|
|United Citizens Party||1|
|Vermont Progressive Party||1|
|Working Families Party||5|
The number of recognized political parties fluctuates regularly, as parties are certified and/or lose official party status. For example, Arkansas requires minor parties to win at least 3 percent of the vote in the most recent gubernatorial or presidential election in order to maintain their recognized status. Those parties have not achieved those requirements in the past several elections, thereby needing to reapply for official certification in the year after the even year election.
Many states distinguish between "major" parties and "minor" parties. The differences between the two can be found in how they put a candidate on the ballot. In all states major parties are granted access to primary elections, allowing them to determine which of their candidates will continue to the general election. Many states, however, do not allow minor parties to participate in primary elections, meaning their candidates can only run in the general election. Many states also allow major parties to select candidates by convention, requiring only a certificate of nomination to register the candidate. In contrast, minor parties are often required to submit petitions to register their candidates, proving to the state that they have a certain percentage of support from the total registered voters before their candidate is placed on the ballot.
The process to be recognized as a political party varies by state. Some states require petitions to be submitted with a certain percentage of registered voter signatures. Others require a certain number of voters to register with the party on their voter registration card before a group is considered a political party. Other states require a candidate to run as a member of a political group before it is recognized as a full party, requiring that candidate to earn a certain percentage of the votes cast in that election for the identified group to be considered a party. For information on a specific state's process, check out that state's ballot access requirements page.
The table below details the officially recognized political parties in each state and links to the party websites.
- Seattle Weekly, "No Rock Party, But Ballots Still Provide Happiness," June 22, 2010
- Based on research conducted by Ballotpedia staff in October-December 2013. This included phone calls to the 50 states and analysis of the state political party websites.