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No Labels achieves official party status in Maine

A voting sign points voters in the right direction to drop off ballots in Phoenix, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. No Labels, which has pledged to create a pathway for an alternative candidate to run against the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees in 2024, will get a spot on the ballot in Arizona.
Ross D. Franklin
/
AP file
A voting sign points voters in the right direction to drop off ballots in Phoenix, Monday, Nov. 7, 2022. No Labels, which has pledged to create a pathway for an alternative candidate to run against the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees in 2024, will get a spot on the ballot in Arizona.

No Labels, the group pushing a so-called unity ticket for president, has cleared the threshold to become an official party in Maine.

The secretary of state on Friday said No Labels has been able to register more than 9,400 Maine voters, which is nearly double the 5,000 required to achieve party status.

The group, which does not disclose its donors, has been trying to achieve party status in all 50 states and, so far, Maine is one of more than a dozen where it has done so.

Its qualification here comes after a dustup with Democratic Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, who accused the organization of not fully communicating to prospective registrants that they would be joining a new political party.

Democrats elsewhere have warned that a No Labels presidential ticket could be a spoiler in the election and deliver former President Donald Trump a victory in key swing states.

The group has rejected that criticism, arguing that many Americans want an alternative to the major parties' nominees.

No Labels is scheduled to hold its nomination convention in Dallas, Texas, in April, and its qualification as a party means that its presidential ticket will appear on the general election ballot in November.

"This milestone validates what has been clear for a long time, which is that the No Labels message and movement resonates with people across this great state,” said Justin Schair, No Labels Maine state co-chairman. “The majority of us in the middle are hungry for a better choice in this next election and for unifying leadership in the White House that can heal our country’s divisions. Getting No Labels on the ballot in Maine brings us a big step closer to making this happen.”

Roughly a third of all registered voters in Maine are not enrolled in a political party and they remain key to electoral success despite not voting as a monolithic bloc.

Both Democratic and Republican parties have attempted to draft unenrolled voters into their respective camps and they'll have a chance to do so during the June primary elections. The Legislature recently switched from a closed primary system to one that's semi-open.

Unenrolled voters will be able to vote in one of the parties' primaries without having to enroll in a political party. Those voters can only vote in one party primary. Voters who are already enrolled in a party can change their affiliation, or unenroll, 15 days before the June primary.

Voters who enroll in a party must remain in that party for at least three months unless they relocate to another municipality and register to vote there.

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.