RFK Jr. claims ballot access in enough states to win White House in November

Independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says he has qualified for enough state ballots to exceed the 270 electoral votes needed to capture the White House, but his claims have not been confirmed by independent sources.

Kennedy’s 2024 website shows the third-party presidential candidate has qualified for enough to ballots to clinch 278 electoral votes — a handful more than the total needed to win the general election against President Biden and former President Trump. His site lists swing states like Michigan, Minnesota and Florida as “complete.”

However, The Hill and Decision Desk HQ, which are tracking Kennedy’s ballot access, have not yet confirmed all of the claims.

“Claim is the operative word,” said Scott Tranter, an analyst with DDHQ, which has confirmed only five states in which Kennedy has qualified, giving him a total of 40 potential electoral votes . “The catch is, each state can confirm ballot eligibility on their own timeframe and many of them don’t do it until later this summer.”

“That’s why on the tracker we have ‘confirmed’ because we speak to the secretaries of states themselves,” he said.

The campaign’s self-reported number is over the threshold required by CNN to qualify for its presidential debate on June 27. The cable news outlet set a deadline a week prior for all candidates to meet the 270 number and reach at least 15 percent in four polls. Kennedy still has one poll to go and it’s unclear if he will be allowed to debate without state officials independently certifying his petitions. 

Kennedy is likely to run into more structural challenges due to the way the ballot process is set up. Each state has different metrics for a candidate qualifying, ranging from paying a simple filing fee to collecting thousands of signatures in different districts, depending on the location. 

While Kennedy professes to have already qualified for access in many states, including top-tier battlegrounds where Biden and Trump are head-to-head in polls, the process for certifying them can take months. Tranter describes the rules as “antiquated,” with state officials having no incentives to verify the ballots sooner rather than later.

Kennedy’s campaign has acknowledged that waiting for the states to “validate” the signatures is a key part of the process. He started his unusual ballot journey when he became an Independent candidate in October and added to it after selecting wealthy philanthropist Nicole Shanahan to be his running mate and help finance the effort.

“When the deadline approaches in each state, the petitions will be sent back to their states and turned in,” his site’s Ballot Access HQ reads. “The states will then validate the signatures themselves to affirm that we have enough, after which they will certify that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is a qualified presidential candidate in that state and print his name on the ballot.”

That last step is what could create a significant time delay and potentially even legal roadblocks ahead, according to Tranter, who has worked on ballot issues being disputed at the state level. 

“They have a lot of latitude,” he said about secretaries of states. “I would imagine there’s going to be significant lawsuits around this.”

“This is going to be the mother of all ballot access fights,” Tranter added. “Unless they’re legally required to, every state is going to wait until the last minute.”

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