I heard that the time for submitting presidential election papers passed on March 3, 2016.

No one seems to have registered by then.

How could a third party (Romney, Bloomberg, Trump) run as an independent or other party candidate now?

2 Answers 2


There is no date associated with registering as a candidate for federal office. Some states' branches of the main parties have had recent deadlines, but none on March 3 that I can see.

In fact, you don't have to register at all unless you have received contributions or made expenditures over $5,000.

As an example from this Slate article:

In the 1996 presidential campaign, Ralph Nader made a point of not filing a statement of candidacy; he came in fourth in the voting.

See the Federal Election Commission website for more details on the requirements.

The per-state deadlines are important, of course; a write-in candidate wouldn't want to lose out on California by waiting till after May 17, for example.

  • OK - thanks. I thought I heard that if candidates wanted to register for an independent run, they had to register somewhere by the day after Super Tuesday (to appear on all ballots?). Mar 4, 2016 at 22:01
  • @HannoverFist The earliest state deadline for independents appears to be May 9th. ballotpedia.org/… Mar 4, 2016 at 22:09
  • @Brythan I do not see a mention of ballot access in the post. There's no reason not to address both types. Mar 5, 2016 at 6:12
  • But Nader still had to register in 1996, just not with the FEC. This makes the second paragraph and the quote misleading. He did register his candidacy in order to get ballot access and did meet relevant deadlines. He did not register his campaign. Part of this confusion is on the FEC's behalf -- they imply that they register candidates, even though what they really register is fundraising. That is to say, the campaign. While the question does not mention ballot access specifically, it does talk about deadlines. And the only deadlines that matter are for ballot access.
    – Brythan
    Mar 5, 2016 at 6:19
  • @Brythan I see your point, but there's not too much to say about state registrations other than that they exist and have significantly different requirements; IMO it's better to link to Ballotpedia et al. for the specific details than to try to reproduce them here. Ultimately, the assumptions in the question are not valid. Mar 5, 2016 at 6:23

Another issue is that third parties don't necessarily need to register the same way as independents. Some of them have ballot access for their candidates in some states regardless. Or they may have been able to register a spot without selecting a specific candidate.

See https://www.lp.org/2016-presidential-ballot-access-map for example. The libertarian candidate will appear in California, Texas, and Florida, the three states with the most electoral college votes. They still have to do work to get their candidate exposed in states including New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania (the next three states). It may be that in the latter states, that they have to register the same as independents do. Or there could be other issues.

Presumably other parties have similar experiences. I picked the libertarians because I knew they have had a lot of success in getting listed in past elections.

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