Political Party Qualification

A qualified political party is entitled to participate in any primary election or presidential general election. (Elections Code § 338.) The time period has closed for new political parties to qualify to participate in the June 3, 2014, primary election. The following information is for a new political party to be entitled to participate in either the June 7, 2016, primary election or the November 8, 2016, presidential general election.

The political parties currently qualified to participate in the elections are, in alphabetical order: the American Independent Party, the Americans Elect Party, the Democratic Party, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, the Peace and Freedom Party, and the Republican Party.

Beginning the Process of Qualifying a Political Party

Whenever a group of electors desires to qualify a new political party, the group shall form a political body by carrying out the following two requirements (Elections Code § 5001):

Two Methods to Qualify a Political Party

A political body may use one of two methods to qualify as a political party: voter registration or petition. (Elections Code §§ 5100, 5151.)

If the Political Body Qualifies as a Political Party

A newly qualified political party must determine which existing political party's statutory provisions it will follow for the operation of its activities. The temporary officers of the newly qualified political party shall file notice of its selection with the Secretary of State not later than 30 days after the political party qualifies. (Elections Code § 5005.)

The newly qualified political party must also determine which existing political party's statutory provisions it will follow for the conduct of its presidential primary election. If a newly qualified political party has not elected permanent officers, the temporary officers shall notify the Secretary of State of its selection on or before the 125th day before the presidential primary election. (Elections Code § 5006.)

The existing qualified political parties with statutes relating to their activities and the conduct of their presidential primary elections are: the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, the American Independent Party, and the Peace and Freedom Party.

If the Political Body Fails to Qualify as a Political Party

If by the 135th day before any primary election (if intending to qualify to participate in the next primary election) or the 102nd day prior to a presidential general election (if intending to qualify to participate in the next presidential general election), a political body has not qualified as a political party, the political body shall be considered to have abandoned its attempt to qualify as a political party and shall be ineligible to participate in the following primary election or the following presidential general election. (Elections Code § 5004.)

Note to Political Body Organizers

These web pages are intended to provide general information about the formation of political bodies and the qualification of political parties and do not have the force and effect of law, regulation, or rule. It is distributed with the understanding that the Secretary of State is not rendering legal advice and these pages are not a substitute for legal counsel for any person or group using it.

In case of conflict, the law, regulation, or rule will apply. Interested persons should obtain the most up-to-date information available because of possible changes in law or procedure since the publication of these pages.

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