CHARLESTON - The Libertarian Party has gained ballot access in West Virginia for 2014 and 2016 because of the votes cast for David Moran in the election for governor, the secretary of state said.
Moran, the Libertarian Party nominee, received about 1.3 percent of the votes cast, Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said. To gain ballot access in West Virginia, a party's candidate must receive a percent of the total ballots cast in the race for governor.
Ballot access means for any election other than municipal elections, a Libertarian candidate will not have to collect signatures to be placed on the general election ballot. The Libertarian Party will be able to choose their candidates either in a primary election or by party convention.
The Libertarian Party joins the Democrat Party, the Republican Party and the Mountain Party as an official political party in West Virginia.
Becoming an official political party also means a person cannot run as a primary candidate if they were registered as a member of one of the other official political parties within 60 days of filing to run. People registered with no party affiliation, independent or any other registration other than the official four parties are not subject to that law.
"This shows how the election process is fair and allows equal access to the ballot." Tennant said.
While the results of the 2012 general election must still be canvassed, it is unlikely Moran will drop below the 1 percent threshold, Tennant said. More than 8,000 people voted for Moran even though there were just 1,448 people in West Virginia registered with the Libertarian Party.
Canvassing of the general election will begin Tuesday.
To maintain ballot access, the Libertarian Party will have to get at least 1 percent of the ballots cast in the 2016 governor's race.