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Colorado
Secretary of State
Jena Griswold

Colorado Secretary of State logo - Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold

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Colorado Secretary of State logo - cube with a C in it

Colorado
Secretary of State
Jena Griswold

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Minor Parties and Qualified Political Organizations FAQs

Q1. What is a qualified political organization ("QPO")?

A1. 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. The officers of the QPO must also have filed the required proof of organization with the Secretary of State and complied with the requirements for maintaining QPO status.

Q2. What are the requirements to form a QPO?

A2. There are 3 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 2 years.

Q3. What must be included with the proof of organization?

A3. Included with the proof of organization must be the QPO's by-laws. The by-laws must state 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 proof of organization must also include the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the QPO's elected Colorado chairperson, vice-chairperson, secretary, and all other elected or appointed officials.

Q4. What happens at the organization's required annual meetings?

A4. 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.

Q5. How is a QPO candidate placed on the general election ballot?

A5. 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.

Q6. Can an elector affiliate with a QPO?

A6. 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.

Q7. How does a QPO maintain its status?

A7. To maintain its status, a QPO must:

  • Meet in odd-numbered years and file a list of officers with the Secretary of State;
  • Meet in even-numbered years and select 1 or more candidates to petition on the ballot at the next general election; and
  • Place a candidate on the general election ballot every 2 years through a nominating petition.

Q8. What is a minor political party?

A8. A minor political party is any political party other than a major political party. To obtain minor political party status, a minor political party must satisfy the conditions set forth in Article 4, of Title 1, of the Colorado Revised Statutes.

Q9. What is the difference between a QPO and a minor political party?

A9. QPOs and minor political parties are similar in that they share many of the same objectives. These shared objectives include, recognition and ballot access for their chosen candidates, and the ability to register electors who wish to affiliate with the organization or party.

Where QPOs and minor political parties differ, are in the requirements for forming and maintaining their status. They also differ in the benefits that are offered, and the restrictions that are in place. In many instances, the formation of a QPO may be considered a stepping stone to achieving minor political party status.

Q10. What are the requirements to form a minor political party?

A10. An organization may form a minor political party by filing a constitution or set of by-laws with the Secretary of State in accordance with Section 1-4-1301 of the Colorado Revised Statutes and by petitioning to qualify as a minor political party.

Additionally, a QPO may qualify as a minor political party by meeting certain registration or candidate performance thresholds.

Q11. What are the basic steps for petitioning to qualify as a minor political party?

A11. To qualify as a minor political party, the organization must submit a petition to the Secretary of State. The petition must:

  • Contain the minor political party's name and a heading stating that the petition signers desire that the organization be qualified as a minor party;
    • The minor political party's name may be up to 3 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 being circulated;
  • Be signed by at least 10,000 registered electors in Colorado; and
  • Be submitted to the Secretary of State no later than the 2nd Friday in January of the election year for which the minor political party seeks to qualify.

Upon submission, the Secretary of State will examine the petition to verify the number and validity of the collected signatures.

Q12. What if the petition was deemed insufficient?

A12. If a petition is found to be insufficient, it may be amended and resubmitted once.

Q13. When does a QPO qualify as a minor political party?

A13. A QPO may qualify as a minor political 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 2 general elections; or
  • 1,000 or more registered electors are affiliated with the QPO prior to July 1st of the election year for which the organization seeks to nominate candidates as a minor political party.

Q14. How does a minor political party maintain its status?

A14. A minor political party maintains its status if:

  • At least 1 of the minor political party's candidates for statewide office has received at least 1% of the total votes cast in any statewide office in either of the last 2 general elections; or
  • 1,000 or more registered electors are affiliated with the minor political party prior to July 1st in either of the last 2 general elections for which the minor political party seeks to nominate candidates.

Q15. How does a minor political party nominate candidates?

A15. A Minor political party may nominate candidates for offices to be filled at a general election in the same manner as major political parties.

I have more questions

Contact the Elections Ballot Access program at 303-894-2200 ext. 6333 or email us at ballot.access@sos.state.co.us.