No Labels, a national group preparing for a potential third-party presidential campaign this fall, has qualified as a political party in Maine, Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said on Friday.

Bellows said No Labels had met the requirement that it enroll at least 5,000 voters into the new party, making it eligible to participate in the June primaries and November general election. As of Tuesday, there were approximately 9,423 Maine voters enrolled in the No Labels Party, the Department of the Secretary of State said.

“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,” Justin Schair, No Labels Maine state co-chair, said in a prepared statement.

“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,” he said.

No Labels now has ballot access in 13 states and has filed paperwork or is gathering signatures to gain access in 14 others. Its goal is to become a party in all 50 states before the presidential election in November.

It’s not yet clear who would run for president on a No Labels ticket, although organizers have said they want to present a moderate alternative to the two major parties. The group describes itself on its website as a centrist organization committed to “fighting the extremes.”


“We want to hear people’s ideas, particularly from those who feel iced out from the loudest and angriest voices in the Democratic and Republican parties,” it says.

Maine will hold a presidential primary March 5, but it’s too late for No Labels to put candidates up for that election, a spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office said Friday. They may still put up a nominee in the November presidential race, Emily Cook said.

The June ballot will feature primaries for federal, state and county offices, as well as local elections in some municipalities. However, officials with No Labels said in an interview that they are focused on the presidential race and don’t plan to run candidates for other offices.

The party is not expected to announce a presidential candidate or launch a campaign until after the two major parties lock in their nominees. The prospect of a choice between President Biden and former President Donald Trump is clearly a big motivator for No Labels organizers.

“I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” Schair said. “We’re going to get ballot access in all 50 states and we’re going to create a ballot line for a candidate should there be a rematch where it looks like it’s a repeat of 2020.”

No Labels continues to face intense pressure to drop its plans for a third-party campaign, especially from Democrats who fear it would effectively hand the election to Trump by taking votes from Biden.


No Labels’ road to official party status included a rebuke last year by Bellows, who sent a cease-and-desist letter to the group’s director of ballot access in May saying some voters felt misled and confused because they thought they were merely signing a petition when they were actually being asked to change their party enrollment.

About 800 Maine voters rescinded their enrollment after Bellows sent letters to nearly 7,000 people who had agreed to change their party affiliation to enroll in No Labels, telling them how to unenroll if they did not understand what they had signed and did not intend to change parties.

Bellows said in September that No Labels had since taken steps to make sure voters understood what they were signing.

Cook, the secretary of state’s spokesperson, said Friday that the department had some additional complaints in the summer and fall, but not in the same volume and not confined to No Labels. She said the Department of the Secretary of State did not have to take any further action or send subsequent letters to No Labels.

Maine GOP Chair Joel Stetkis said he has heard recently about the issues still being a concern.

“I have heard from several people about their – I’ll use the word ‘sketchy’ – efforts to gain ballot access,” Stetkis said. “I have heard from several people that they were under the understanding that they were just signing a petition to allow No Labels to be a party, whereas No Labels is actually registering them as No Labels voters.”


Stetkis said he is worried that could lead to people in the Democratic or Republican parties who may have accidentally switched enrollments being unable to vote in the March primary, although he is otherwise unopposed to the group gaining ballot access.

“If you do the things you need to under the current law, I’m fine with it,” he said.

Officials with No Labels said the concerns have been overstated and that they have acted in a transparent manner with voters.

“The GOP chair would do well to stop trafficking in rumors,” No Labels Chief Strategist Ryan Clancy said. “The reality is that No Labels has undertaken every effort to ensure that the voters we interact with are fully aware of what they are being asked to sign.”

He said those efforts include canvassers being mandated to wear bright yellow T-shirts that say, “THIS IS NOT A PETITION,” mandated training sessions for canvassers, requiring canvassers to sign affidavits outlining legal guidelines for how they must operate, and using state-printed voter registration cards that are easier to identify as being part of a voter registration drive and are easily distinguishable from a petition.

Annina Breen, a spokesperson for the Maine Democratic Party, said the party has heard concerns in the past but not recently about No Labels’ efforts to enroll voters.

She said Democrats are not opposed to No Labels becoming a party in Maine. “We support the rights of all people to belong to a party of whatever political affiliation they desire,” Breen said.

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