RFK Jr Pushes for Nationwide Ballot Access, Advocates for Democracy Expansion

In Presidential Candidates
May 23, 2024
rfk pushes for nationwide ballot access

Editorial Credit: jhansen2 / Depositphotos.com

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s pursuit of the presidency is gaining ground as he works to secure ballot access across the United States. This independent candidate has turned campaign rallies into opportunities where supporters are not just spectators but also active participants, helping to ensure his presence on state ballots.

In Iowa, for instance, attendees didn’t just gather to hear Kennedy speak; they became part of a targeted effort to navigate Iowa’s unique nomination process and secure his spot in the election.

Kennedy’s mission extends far beyond Iowa, as he aims for a national presence on the ballot. His campaign has successfully registered him in several states already, with plans to continue expanding.

In an electoral landscape dominated by major-party candidates, Kennedy’s strategy seeks to capitalize on the desire among a segment of voters for an alternative choice. As the nation heads closer to the November elections, Kennedy’s efforts may not only demonstrate the viability of his campaign but also potentially alter the dynamics of the presidential race.

Roadblocks to Access

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s endeavor to secure ballot access across the United States is multi-faceted, involving a mix of legal strategies and grassroots efforts.

At the helm of this operation are Amaryllis Fox Kennedy and Nick Brana, coordinating with staff and volunteers state by state. Their dedicated ballot access team also includes Trent Pool, who brings expertise in petition circulation, and Paul Rossi, a sharp legal mind fighting against restrictive deadlines and regulations.

Challenges and Legal Wins:

  • In Utah, a lawsuit from the Kennedy campaign prompted the state to delay its petition deadline.
  • Idaho revised its petition gathering rules after Kennedy took legal action against their restrictive laws.
  • Hawaii’s Democratic Party’s attempt to void Kennedy’s ballot petition was thwarted, even without legal representation.

Despite these wins, not all endeavors are a walk in the park.

Many petitions still need filing, which opens up the campaign to potential scrutiny and critique of their petition legitimacy and signature collection practices.

Take Nevada for instance, where misguidance led to controversy over the need to declare Kennedy’s running mate prior to collecting signatures.

Strategic Timing:

To circumvent early strikes from opposition, the campaign plays a waiting game, holding off on submitting petitions in some states despite having the requisite signatures.

The intent is to dodge early legal challenges.

Funding the Cause:

  • A super PAC, American Values 2024, initially earmarked a substantial sum for signature collection in Kennedy’s favor—securing ballot positions in several states.
  • Financial hiccups arose when the Democratic National Committee filed a complaint, leading to the PAC withdrawing from its ballot access strategy, even after a $2 million spend.
  • Kennedy’s campaign remains financially buoyant, ending March with a substantial war chest, bolstered by a $2 million shot from his vice-presidential nominee, Nicole Shanahan.

The Scale of Signature Requirements:

  • The number of signatures needed swings dramatically—from under 10,000 in some states to over 145,000 in places like Florida.
  • New York is a focal point, demanding a high volume of signatures within merely six weeks; volunteers are deployed throughout 62 counties.

Voter Perspectives:

  • For some, like 43-year-old health care worker Matt Rigolini, Kennedy’s presence on the ballot is pivotal. He cites the lack of alternative candidates as a potential reason to skip voting if Kennedy isn’t an option.
  • Others view his effort as a benchmark for his campaign’s impact, like Debra Chilcott who sees Kennedy as a worthy investment.
  • Some supporters may not see a clear victory path for Kennedy but value the inclusion of third-party candidates for the sake of choice, echoing Doniella Pliss’s sentiment on the importance of voting by one’s values.