Minor Parties and Qualified Political Organizations
Minor Parties and Qualified Political Organizations
What is a qualified political organization (“QPO”)?
A QPO is an organization that has placed a candidate for a congressional district or statewide office on the ballot at a congressional vacancy or general election and whose officers have filed the required proof of organization with the Secretary of State and complied with the requirements for maintaining QPO status. 
What are the requirements to form a QPO?
There are three requirements that must be met to form a QPO:
- File proof of organization with the Secretary of State
- Meet as an organization at least once a year, and
- Certify at least one candidate to the general election ballot every two years.
What do I/we need to include with the proof of organization?
- By-laws stating the methods for selecting officers, selecting delegates to county, state and national conventions, and selecting candidates planning to petition onto the general election ballot using the name of the QPO;
- The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the QPO’s elected Colorado chairperson, vice-chairperson, secretary, and all other elected officers.
What happens at the organization's required annual meetings?
In even-numbered years, the QPO meets to select candidates who wish to use the name of the QPO on petitions for the next general election.
In odd-numbered years, the QPO meets to elect officers and conduct any other business provided for in the by-laws.
How is a candidate placed on the general election ballot?
Candidates who wish to represent the QPO on the general election ballot must petition on to the ballot.  Prior to circulating a petition, the petition format must be approved by the Secretary of State. The petition must contain the required number of registered electors’ signatures needed for each elected office.  Qualifying a QPO candidate as a write-in candidate does not satisfy the requirement of placing a candidate on the general election ballot. 
Can an elector register affiliation with a QPO?
When registering to vote, a qualified elector may designate his or her affiliation with a QPO. The elector’s registration information will reflect affiliation with a political organization rather than with a political party. 
How does a QPO maintain its status?
In order to maintain its status, a QPO must continue to:
- Meet in odd-numbered years and file a list of officers with the Secretary of State;
- Meet in even-numbered years and select one or more candidates to appear on the ballot at the next general election;
- Place a candidate on the general election ballot every two years through a nominating petition.
What is a minor political party?
A Minor Party is any political party other than a Major Political Party that has satisfied the conditions set forth in Article 4, Title 1, C.R.S., for obtaining Minor Party status.
What is the difference between QPO vs. minor political party (“minor party”)?
QPOs and Minor Parties are similar in that they share many of the same objectives, including recognition and ballot access for their chosen candidates, and the ability to register electors who wish to affiliate with the organization or party. However, the requirements for forming and maintaining a QPO versus a Minor Party are different, as are the benefits and restrictions. In many instances, the formation of a QPO may be considered a stepping stone to achieving Minor Party status.
What are the requirements to form a minor party?
An organization may form a Minor Party by filing a constitution or set of by-laws with the Secretary of State in accordance with Section 1-4-1301, C.R.S., and by petitioning to qualify as a Minor Party. In addition, a QPO may qualify as a Minor Party by meeting certain registration or candidate performance thresholds.
What are the basic steps for petitioning to qualify as a minor party?
The petition must:
- contain the minor party’s name and a heading stating that petition signers desire that the organization be qualified as a minor party (the party’s name may be up to three words in addition to the word “party,” but may not include any part of the name of an existing party);
- be approved by the Secretary of State before it is circulated;
- be signed by at least 10,000 registered electors in Colorado; and
- be submitted to the Secretary of State no later than the second Friday in January of the election year for which the Minor Party seeks to qualify.
The Secretary of State will examine the petition to verify the number and validity of signatures.
What if the petition was deemed insufficient?
If a petition is found to be insufficient, it may be amended and resubmitted once.
When does a QPO become a Minor Party?
A QPO may also qualify as a minor party if:
- any of its candidates for any statewide office received at least 5% of the total votes cast for that office in either of the last two general elections; or
- 1,000 or more registered electors are affiliated with the QPO prior to July 1 of the election year for which the organization seeks to nominate candidates as a minor party.
How does a minor party maintain its status?
A minor party will maintain its status if:
- At least one of the party’s candidates for statewide office has received at least 1% of the total votes cast for any statewide office in either of the last two general elections; or
- 1,000 or more registered electors are affiliated with the Minor Party prior to July 1 in either of the last two general elections for which the Minor Party seeks to nominate candidates.
How does a minor party nominate candidates?
A Minor Party may nominate candidates for offices to be filled at a general election in the same manner as Major Political Parties. In addition, a Minor Party may nominate candidates by petition or by assembly. 
I have more questions.
Contact the Elections Ballot Access program at 303-894-2200, ext. 6333, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Election Rules 3.3 and 3.4
 1-4-802, C.R.S.
 1-4-802(1)(c), C.R.S.
 Election Rules 3.2, 3.3, and 3.4
 Election Rule 3.6
 Election Rule 3.7
 1-4-1303, C.R.S.
 1-4-1303(2), C.R.S.
 1-4-1304, C.R.S.