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RFK Jr.'s ballot signatures could be invalid in Nevada without VP

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With Robert F. Kennedy Jr. set to unveil his running mate on Tuesday, an unforeseen hiccup has emerged in Nevada, complicating the long-shot independent's path to gaining ballot access in the Silver State.

Kennedy's vice presidential pick comes as he needs a running mate to qualify for the ballot in multiple states. And despite the campaign's announcement earlier this month celebrating amassing 15,000 signatures in Nevada, which exceeds what's needed to get on the ballot in November, the campaign could be forced to start its signature collection from scratch in the state because it failed to name a running mate when it filed Kennedy's petition, according to documents filed by Kennedy. 

Nevada's presidential candidate's guide states that independent candidate petitions must include both the presidential and vice presidential candidates' names on the petition in order to be valid, the Nevada secretary of state's office confirmed.

Documents requested from the Nevada office revealed that Kennedy only names himself on the petitionin violation of the rules and rendering the signatures collected in the state by his campaign void.

While this setback pushes him one step further from his goal of securing a spot on the ballot in all 50 states, the campaign still has time to collect new signatures, once Kennedy's running mate is named Tuesday. Signatures must be submitted to Nevada by July 5, and the petition must be filed by Aug. 9.

Kennedy's campaign said it had not yet submitted the signatures to the Nevada office.

The campaign did not respond to requests for comment. 

Where is Kennedy on the ballot?

The only state that has confirmed Kennedy is on the ballot is Utah. Every state has different laws for an independent candidate to get on the ballot, making it one of the most difficult parts of the campaign for a candidate who is not from a major party.

Presidential Candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Speaks In Grand Rapids, Michigan
Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. poses with supporters during a meet and greet after a voter rally at St. Cecilia Music Center on February 10, 2024 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Emily Elconin / Getty Images

In New Hampshire, independent candidates need to submit a Declaration of Intent during the filing period in June before submitting at least 3,000 signatures to the New Hampshire Secretary of State's office.

The Office of Elections in Hawaii confirmed that Kennedy supporters have collected enough signatures to establish the "We The People" party, which can then name Kennedy as its presidential nominee on the ballot. New Hampshire and Hawaii as well require a vice-presidential candidate be named before Kennedy can gain ballot access in either state.

It's unclear if signatures collected in other states that require named running mates for independent presidential candidates to gain ballot access will also be impacted.

The super PAC supporting Kennedy, American Values 2024, has helped collect signatures for ballot access and said in December that it planned to spend $10 million to $15 million on the effort. But in February, the Democratic National Committee filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Kennedy's independent presidential campaign and the super PAC supporting him, American Values 2024, alleging the two were illegally colluding on ballot access for Kennedy. 

American Values 2024 said that it would stop collecting signatures for ballot access on his behalf after it said it had met the signature thresholds in Arizona, Michigan, Georgia and South Carolina. 

The PAC is now redirecting its efforts in an attempt to counteract Democratic and Republican efforts to weaken third-party campaigns.

"Given the campaign's success, we are no longer collecting signatures in any additional states, and will continue to fight the [Democratic National Committee] or [Republican National Committee] when they try to interfere with the constitutional right of American voters who overwhelmingly want independent candidates on the ballot," the PAC said in a press release earlier this month.

The Nevada secretary of state's office said that on March 7 — two days after Kennedy announced his campaign had reached the signature threshold — it sent a memo to all independent presidential candidates petitioning for ballot access that explicitly stated their filings with the office had to consist of "a declaration of candidacy and a petition of candidacy, in which the person must also designate a nominee for Vice President."

For the major parties, the vice presidential candidate is traditionally announced close to the nominating conventions, and the presidential and vice presidential nominees formally accept the nomination of their parties at the convention. The Democratic National Convention will be held Aug. 19-24, and the Republican National Convention is taking place July 15-18. 

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