Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the 2024 independent presidential candidate, is continuing the daunting task of attempting to gain ballot access in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Mr. Kennedy will appear at voter rallies in Raleigh, N.C., on Jan. 12; Atlanta on Jan. 14; Honolulu on Jan. 18; and Charleston, W.V., on Jan 27.
At a press conference in Salt Lake City on Jan. 3, Mr. Kennedy announced that he met the signature requirement to appear on Utah’s 2024 general election presidential ballot.
“Utah has once again shown that it is the pioneer state. It is the first of the 50 states and the District of Columbia that we are going to register and get on the ballot,” Mr. Kennedy said.
Mr. Kennedy filed a lawsuit against Utah officials on Dec. 4, 2023, claiming an “unconstitutional early filing deadline” 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.
The lawsuit contended 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].”
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 praised Ms. Henderson at the Jan. 3 news conference for adjusting the deadline and meeting “constitutional” compliance.
“I want to thank Lt. Gov. Henderson for cooperating and removing one of the unconstitutional barriers. We were litigating this case at the same time we were getting signatures,” Mr. Kennedy said at the Jan. 3 press conference.
Mr. Kennedy has said that it will cost “around $15 million” to get on the ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia “but we’re going to be able to do it.”
Getting on the ballot in every state and the District of Columbia is a grueling, time-consuming, and expensive process, 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.
Supporters of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Oct. 9 in Philadelphia listen to the announcement that he will run as an independent for president. (Jeff Louderback/The Epoch Times)
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.
Mr. Kennedy said that his campaign must collect about 1 million valid pen-and-paper signatures through petitions across the country to secure ballot access in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
“Effectively, this means closer to 1.5 million to ensure that enough are valid,” Mr. Kennedy wrote in a statement.
At the ballot access announcement in Utah, Mr. Kennedy said that Maine, New Hampshire, and North Dakota have refused to send his campaign ballot petitions and lamented the “lock that the major political parties have on this process.”
“This is something that would never happen to a presidential campaign from the major political parties. Most democracies in the world have a variety of political parties. But the Democratic and Republican parties have succeeded in this country implementing a number of rules and procedures that make it almost impossible for anybody to challenge their chokehold,” Mr. Kennedy said.
“We’re gonna figure it out. We have a litigation team now, and we expect to litigate in a lot of states,” he added.
The challenge of collecting signatures to gain ballot access will be “advantageous” because “we’re going to have a better ground game” than other candidates,” Mr. Kennedy noted.
In a statement on Jan. 11, Mr. Kennedy referenced President Joe Biden and President Donald Trump when he said he is running against “the weakest candidates in American history” and that the opportunity for change “has never been more promising.”
“Trump and Biden have had their time in the Oval Office. Voters overwhelmingly express a desire for another option in this election. President Biden supporters admit their vote is driven more by fear of Trump’s supposed threat to democracy than by genuine belief in his vision. So, in that sense, I’ve never met a real Biden voter, only someone choosing the perceived lesser of two evils,” Mr. Kennedy explained.
Mr. Kennedy points to polls that show his favorability rating and approval among voters between the ages of 18 and 34 as reasons for optimism about his campaign.
In a Gallup poll conducted from Dec. 1 to Dec. 20, Mr. Kennedy led all presidential candidates with a 52 percent favorability rating. President Trump followed with 42 percent, President Biden 41 percent, former U.N. Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley 33 percent, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis 32 percent.
Mr. Kennedy and Ms. Haley led in the least favorable category at 34 percent compared to 58 percent for President Biden, 57 percent for President Trump, and 52 percent for Mr. DeSantis.
The results for Mr. Kennedy mirrored a Harvard CAPS/Harris survey published in October 2023. In that survey, 49 percent of respondents had a favorable view of the candidate 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.
Mr. Kennedy has said multiple times that he believes he will prevail in the general election.
“Right now, polls indicate that I am outperforming both candidates among Americans under 45 years old. I am leading by 10 points among Americans under 35. And in key battleground states, my average stands at an impressive 24 percent, putting me within striking distance of victory. If we can pull 5 percent from each of our opponents to get to 34 percent, we win,” Mr. Kennedy said in a statement.
A Quinnipiac University poll released on Dec. 20, 2023, about a hypothetical three-way race, showed President Joe Biden with 38 percent support followed by President Donald Trump at 36 percent, and Mr. Kennedy at 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.
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.
In early November 2023, a survey of registered voters conducted by Siena College and The New York Times revealed that in a three-way race across six battleground states, Mr. Kennedy would receive 24 percent of the vote, while President Trump and President Biden would get 35 percent and 33 percent, respectively
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.
While Mr. Kennedy continued his ballot access quest, centrist group No Labels announced on Jan. 5 that it secured a spot for its “unity” presidential ticket on Maine’s general election ballot.
The group’s chosen candidates for president and vice president have yet to be announced. They will now appear on the ballot in 13 states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota and Utah.
Efforts are underway to gain ballot access in 14 others.
Founded in 2009, No Labels started as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit dedicated to promoting centrist candidates that aligned with its focus on bipartisanship and “common sense.”
The group intends to establish itself as a political party to present an alternative to President Biden and President Trump.
Some pundits have speculated that Mr. Kennedy would be an ideal choice to head a No Labels presidential ticket. Before announcing that he would run as an independent and leave the Democrat party race on Oct. 9, Mr. Kennedy met with a Libertarian Party official.
Mr. Kennedy is scheduled to speak at the Libertarian Party of California’s 2024 convention on Feb. 24. Libertarian presidential candidates Dr. Michael Rectenwald and Mike ter Maat are also on the schedule.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) met with Mr. Kennedy on Jan. 10. Both men have been outspoken about COVID-19 vaccine mandates and Dr. Anthony Fauci’s handling of pandemic issues.
After talking to Mr. Kennedy, Mr. Paul told Politico that they agreed about “skepticism of crony capitalism.”
“I like his skepticism that large parts of the regulatory apparatus of the government have been taken over by big business,” Mr. Paul said.
“There are a lot of things that he talks about that he and I agree on, and my father has known him. The conversation is useful, and we’re gonna continue to talk to him,” he added.