In 2016, the Libertarian Party was on the general election ballot in all 50 states; this year, it has secured ballot access in just 35. Similarly, the Green Party—which in 2016 had its best election ever by making the ballot in 44 states, with another three states granting the party’s candidate official write-in status—has qualified for the November ballot in only 22 states.
Several of the elusive ballot lines are in states that in 2016 were either narrowly won or flipped from red-to-blue. At present, neither the Libertarian Party nor the Green Party has qualified for the ballot in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Iowa or Minnesota. Additionally, the Green Party has not secured a place on the ballot in Arizona, Georgia or Nevada, and the Libertarian Party is missing from Maine.
To get on the ballot in the remaining states, they need to collect and submit petition signatures. And in a normal year, they would be on track to do just that. But because of the deadly coronavirus—and the social-distancing and stay-at-home orders to minimize its spread—after March 6, “petitioning was over in the United States,” as Libertarian Party executive director Daniel Fishman told me.