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To be officially recognized as a political party in Iowa, a political organization's candidate must receive at least two percent of the votes cast for president or governor in the last general election.[1][2] If the political organization's candidate did not receive enough votes, it is considered a Non-political Party Organization, or NPPO. NPPOs do not need to file any special paperwork to be recognized by the state.[1] However, they do have name restrictions. NPPOs cannot use a name that is longer than five words, and they cannot use the name, or part of the name, of any officially recognized political party.[3]

For an NPPO to be officially established as a political party, it must do the following:[1]

  • Put a candidate for president or governor on the general election ballot.
  • That candidate must then receive at least two percent of the votes for that office.
  • Once the first two conditions are met, the organization must file an Application for Political Party Status with the Iowa Secretary of State. This must be done after the state's canvass of votes but within one year of the general election date.
  • The new political party's candidate must continue to receive two percent of the vote at the general election in order to maintain its status as a political party. If a candidate does not receive enough votes, the party's status will be revoked and the process will have to be repeated.

For an example of the number of votes required to be established as a political party, look to the table below.

Votes cast in 2012 presidential election Number of votes needed to be officially recognized by the state
1,582,180[4] 31,644