Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson has secured ballot access in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, his campaign has announced, making him the first third-party candidate in 20 years to do so. (more)
Johnson had already achieved ballot access in 49 states and the District of Columbia, with only Rhode Island left to secure. His campaign announced on Tuesday evening that it had confirmed that Johnson will also be on the ballot in Rhode Island.
"With a majority of Americans wanting a choice other than Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, today we now know for certain that on Election Day, every voter in America will have that alternative option," Johnson said. "And today we also know that the only other option on every American voter’s ballot will be myself and Gov. Weld."
Johnson added: "Gaining ballot access in all 50 states and the District of Columbia is a monumental task, as evidenced by the fact that we will be the only ticket other than the Republicans and Democrats to do so. Thousands of volunteers, thousands of contributors and activists in every state made it happen."
It marks the first time since 1996 that a third-party candidate has been able to secure ballot access in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Libertarian Party technically secured nationwide ballot access in 2000, but in Arizona the state's Libertarian Party opted for someone else.
The news comes amid increasing calls for Johnson, who is a former governor of New Mexico, to be allowed to participate in the presidential debates. Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former Republican National Committee Chairman Marc Racicot, and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger are among those who have called for Johnson to be included.
The Commission on Presidential Debates - which is led by Republican and Democratic co-chairs - is in charge of organizing the debates and requires a third-party candidate to have at least 15 percent in selected polls to be allowed to participate.
Johnson is currently at an average of 9 percent nationally, but the former governor has seen increasing support in some states. A recent Washington Post-SurveyMonkey poll showed 25 percent for Johnson in his home state of New Mexico, 23 percent in Utah and 19 percent in Alaska, Idaho and South Dakota.
Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr., the co-chairman of the Commission on Presidential Debates, told CNBC earlier this month that the commission would consider inviting a third-party candidate if his or her polling numbers are below 15 percent, but close enough to be within the margin of error. At 9 percent, Johnson would not qualify.
Former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said in a recent interview that the 15 percent threshold should be lowered, saying it's too high. During the Democratic and Republican primaries, networks required candidates to poll at least 1 to 3 percent nationally to participate in the debates.
Jill Stein, the Green Party's presidential nominee, currently polls at an average of 2.9 percent nationally. Stein has also been unable to achieve nationwide ballot access, though Americans in 48 states plus D.C. will be able to vote for her, including three states in which Stein is a recognized write-in candidate.
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