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Small political parties in Maine hope to gain ground with new election law

Leaders of the Libertarian Party of Maine helped write the bill that lowers the barrier to entry on the ballot.

RIPLEY, Maine — Just outside of Newport, members of the Libertarian Party of Maine gathered Sunday to talk strategy and grill hotdogs.

“It's about getting people on local ballots and growing the party that way,” Jim Baines, the party’s treasurer, said at the second annual Libertarian summer bash. 

As the smallest of Maine’s four official political parties, Libertarians hope their platform of personal autonomy and property rights will catch on with both left and right.

But with just over 1,000 registered voters, there is work to be done. At Sunday’s picnic, party chairman Harrison Kemp laid out a simple game plan: “Get people to wake up and realize that they don’t have to go with the same two options they’ve always had.”

The party has some new legislative help in spreading this message. Earlier this summer, Governor Mills signed LD 769, a bill written by Kemp that lowers the barrier to entry for parties looking to make the ballot in state elections—from a minimum of 10,000 to 5,000 registered voters.

Kemp and Baines both hope this will raise awareness of their cause and move the needle when it comes to raising the visibility of the Libertarian Party of Maine.

“What this basically means is that we really need to get on the debate stage at the presidential levels and at all other levels, and force republicans and democrats to talk about things they don't want to talk about,” Baines said.

With the 2024 election looming, the Libertarian party of Maine hopes to enter next year with 10,000 registered voters on their personal freedom-totting ticket.

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