RFK Jr. Announces He Will Appear On Ballot In Utah

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Jan 04, 2024 - 01:34 PM

Authored by Jeff Louderback via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks at a campaign rally in Phoenix, Ariz., on Dec. 20, 2023. (Matt York/AP Photo)

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced that he has met the signature requirement to appear on Utah’s 2024 general election presidential ballot, the first step toward the daunting goal of qualifying for the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

State Elections Director Ryan Cowley confirmed that Mr. Kennedy collected the required number of at least 1,000 verified signatures. Utah is the first state where Mr. Kennedy has submitted signatures.

The candidate told reporters at a news conference at the Utah state Capitol on Jan. 3 that he’s confident that he'll meet the access requirements for independents and third-party candidates, even as three states—New Hampshire, Maine, and North Dakota—are refusing to send campaign ballot petitions.

“We will figure it out. We have a litigation team and expect to litigate in a lot of states,” Mr. Kennedy said. “These are roadblocks but none of them are insurmountable. We will be on the ballot in 50 states and the District of Columbia.”

Utah had presented the first deadline until Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, a Republican, announced that she would extend the deadline for independent presidential candidates to gain ballot access to March 5.

Mr. Kennedy filed a lawsuit against Utah officials on Dec. 4, 2023, citing an “unconstitutional early filing deadline” that prevented ballot access for independent presidential candidates.

The legal action challenged Utah’s Jan. 8 deadline requiring independent presidential candidates to collect and verify 1,000 signatures from qualified voters.

Mr. Kennedy argued in the lawsuit that “the current deadline is the earliest deadline ever sought to be imposed on independent presidential candidates in the modern era. No federal court has ever upheld a January deadline [for independent presidential candidates].”

The lawsuit will continue to advance through the courts, even with the decision to extend the deadline. In the same court filing, Ms. Henderson asked that a hearing take place the week of Jan. 15.

Mr. Kennedy praised Ms. Henderson at the Jan. 3 news conference for adjusting the deadline and meeting “constitutional” compliance.

Utah is a state that Mr. Kennedy believes he can win. Since announcing his candidacy in April, he has generated support from conservatives, moderate Republicans and Democrats, and independents.

While Utah has 574,075 registered unaffiliated voters, more than 100,000 of them are reportedly inactive since they haven’t cast a vote in the past two general elections.

The number of unaffiliated voters is more than double the figure of Democrat voters and Republican voters.

In the 2022 election, Utah’s Democratic Party didn’t nominate a candidate against Republican Sen. Mike Lee. Instead, it endorsed independent candidate Evan McMullin, who ultimately lost to Mr. Lee.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announces his intention to run for president as an independent candidate, at Philadelphia's Independence Mall, on Oct. 9, 2023. (Lily Sun/The Epoch Times)

The challenge of getting on the ballot in every state and the District of Columbia is grueling, time-consuming, and expensive, Mr. Kennedy said.

Guidelines for securing a ballot spot differ in many states, as do deadlines. North Carolina and Texas, for example, require independent candidates to file by mid-May. Multiple states have summer deadlines.

Mr. Kennedy must gather about 200,000 signatures in California, about 145,000 in Florida, and more than 110,000 in Texas, according to the rules in those states. Tennessee requires only 275 signatures.

Some states have varying guidelines about the number of signees in different parts of their state.

Legal challenges from Democrats and Republicans intent on keeping Mr. Kennedy off the ballot are possible. Signatures can be challenged after they’ve been submitted to election offices in multiple states.

American Values 2024, a super PAC that supports the election of Mr. Kennedy, said it plans to spend as much as $15 million to get the candidate on the ballot in 10 states deemed important to winning the election.

‘Grassroots Army’

A spokesperson for the super PAC said the organization will spend money to collect signatures by hand, as state law requires, in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, New York, and Texas.

Mr. Kennedy said his campaign is supported by a “grassroots army” and he is aiming to get 60 percent more signatures than needed in every state to “provide a cushion.”

The candidate has called ballot access laws for independent and third-party candidates “among the worst forms of voter suppression in America today” and said that state officials should work together to “streamline and standardize ballot access procedures.”

Ballot access restrictions “artificially prop up the two-party duopoly,” Mr. Kennedy added, noting that a Gallup poll conducted in September 2023 showed that 63 percent of American adults agree that “the Republican and Democratic parties do such a poor job of representing the American people that another choice is needed.”

To get on the ballots of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Mr. Kennedy noted, his campaign must collect about 1 million valid pen-and-paper signatures through petitions across the country.

“Effectively, this means closer to 1.5 million to ensure that enough are valid,” Mr. Kennedy said.

Mr. Kennedy’s campaign is using a grassroots approach to gather petition signatures at events like the voter rallies in Lincoln and Kansas City.

“Normally this entails a budget of $10 [million] to $15 million to hire professional petition circulators who can navigate the maze of confusing rules,” he explained.

Mr. Kennedy pointed to multiple polls that confirm there is a path to victory, he believes.

In a Quinnipiac University poll released on Dec. 20, 2023, about a hypothetical three-way race, President Joe Biden received 38 percent, former President Donald Trump 36 percent, and Mr. Kennedy 22 percent. The survey has a 2.4 percent margin of error.

In a five-person hypothetical 2024 general election matchup that includes independent candidate Cornel West and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, President Trump tallied 38 percent, President Biden 36 percent, Mr. Kennedy 16 percent, and Mr. West and Ms. Stein 3 percent each.

Younger Voters

The same study indicated that Mr. Kennedy (36 percent) led President Biden (32 percent) and President Trump (26 percent) among independents. Mr. Kennedy also outpaced President Biden and President Trump with voters aged 18 to 34 with 40 percent support compared to 36 percent for President Biden and 21 percent for President Trump.

Mr. Kennedy also mentioned a survey of registered voters conducted by Siena College and The New York Times released in early November 2023 indicating that in six battleground states, Mr. Kennedy would receive 24 percent of the vote in a three-way race, while President Trump would get 35 percent and President Biden would get 33 percent.

The balance said they remained undecided or wouldn’t vote.

The poll included 3,662 likely voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The margin of sampling error varies among the state polls, from plus or minus 4.4 percentage points to plus or minus 4.8 percentage points.

That survey shows Mr. Kennedy leading President Biden and President Trump among voters younger than the age of 45 in those six states.

Mr. Kennedy registered 34 percent support among voters aged 18 to 29 compared with 30 percent for President Biden and 29 percent for President Trump. For voters aged 30 to 44, Mr. Kennedy led with 31 percent while President Biden and President Trump each collected 30 percent.

Mr. Kennedy also reminded reporters at the Jan. 3 news conference that polls have shown he leads all presidential candidates in favorability rating.

A Harvard CAPS/Harris survey published in October 2023 found that 49 percent of respondents had a favorable view of Mr. Kennedy, while 30 percent had an unfavorable opinion.

President Trump received a 49 percent favorability rating from respondents, with 46 percent voicing an unfavorable view, and President Biden received a 45 percent favorability rating from respondents, with 49 percent sharing an unfavorable opinion.

They say my impact is only going to draw votes from the other candidates. The Democrats are frightened that I’m gonna spoil the election for President Biden, and the Republicans are frightened that I’m gonna spoil it for President Trump. The truth is, they’re both right,” Mr. Kennedy said.

Independent and third-party presidential candidates must declare their vice presidential pick in 27 states to get on the ballot, which presents a sense of urgency to announce his choice, Mr. Kennedy acknowledged.

There was speculation that he would announce his running mate on Jan. 3. At the news conference, he said the campaign is actively talking to multiple candidates.

“I’m looking for somebody who is aligned with me on some important issues, including unraveling the warfare state,” but “I don’t need someone who agrees with me on everything,” Mr. Kennedy said at a campaign stop last month.

“I’m interested in someone who wants to end the division we face in this country. It’s a good exercise for the American people to see political leaders who have high regard for each other, even if they don’t have the same views on every issue,” he added.

Mr. Kennedy declined to say who he was considering as his running mate, but he noted that he was “looking at a broad range of people.”