The Bulletin

Libertarian vs. Liberation creates third-party conundrum on Virginia ballots

By: - August 3, 2021 4:21 pm

Princess Blanding, the sister of Marcus-David Peters, who was killed by Richmond Police in 2018, has been at the forefront of protests regarding police reform. (Scott Elmquist/ Style Weekly)

Most Virginia voters go for candidates with a “D” or “R” next to their name, but who should have dibs on the “L?”

This year, election officials preparing November’s ballots were faced with the dilemma of how to differentiate the Libertarian Party from the Liberation Party, the newly formed initiative from gubernatorial candidate and social justice activist Princess Blanding.

“We didn’t want to list them both as ‘L.’ Because that’s a really bad idea,” Dave Nichols, elections services manager for the Virginia Department of Elections, said at a state Board of Elections meeting Tuesday.

To resolve the issue, the state reached out to both parties for ideas.

“We believe the identification of ‘L’ for Libertarian has long been used in Virginia and voters understand that ‘L’ officially represents a vote for the Libertarian Party,” Joe Paschal, the chair of the Libertarian Party of Virginia, wrote in response. “We believe it would be unfair to ask our party to change the ballot identification of ‘L’ after spending years establishing this familiarity with voters. As such, we request ‘L’ for the Libertarian Party on all ballots in Virginia.”

The Liberation Party, which Blanding chairs, seemed to concur. In her own letter, Blanding suggested ‘LP,’ ‘LTP,’ or ‘LBP’ as possible abbreviations for her party.

The state board voted to go with “LP” as the default abbreviation for the Liberation Party, keeping the other two suggestions on file for backup use.

Libertarian Robert Sarvis was on the ballot for governor in 2013 and the U.S. Senate in 2014. The party does not have any statewide candidates this year. However, there are a few Libertarians running for seats in the House of Delegates, meaning some voters will see both Libertarian Party and Liberation Party options on their ballots.

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Graham Moomaw
Graham Moomaw

A veteran Virginia politics reporter, Graham grew up in Hillsville and Lynchburg, graduating from James Madison University and earning a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. Before joining the Mercury in 2019, he spent six years at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, most of that time covering the governor's office, the General Assembly and state politics. He also covered city hall and politics at The Daily Progress in Charlottesville. Contact him at [email protected]

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