This year’s presidential election is bound to be as contentious as the last match in 2020. And if several third party candidates manage to gain ballot access, additional excitement or drama, depending on your perspective, will undoubtedly ensue. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a major swing state will be front and center in the fray.

Currently Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and No Labels are working towards ballot access, and possibly the only thing that Republicans and Democrats agree on is their opposition to these campaigns.

Kennedy has name recognition – likely the closest thing to royalty in our country. Per his campaign site, he promises to “end the forever wars, clean up government, increase wealth for all, and tell Americans the truth.”

No Labels was founded in 2009 in order to fight the extremes in both political parties. Their mission is “to restore America’s faith that democracy remains the best means to bring out the good in every one of us, thus ensuring a brighter future for generations to come.”

For this presidential election, No Labels conducted comprehensive polling and determined that a third-party candidate could be competitive. “Our polling shows 63 percent of Americans would be open to supporting a moderate independent presidential candidate in 2024 if the alternatives are Donald Trump and Joe Biden. That’s an unprecedented figure that reflects how fed up the American people are with the division in our country and how hungry they are for better choices.”

When Trump and Biden won their respective primaries, No Labels delegates convened and voted to pursue a unity ticket for 2024. On March 14, 2024, the group announced “No Labels has drawn from our community to create the Country Over Party Committee, which is a diverse group of citizen leaders in charge of identifying candidates for a Unity ticket.”

Both No Labels and Kennedy have an arduous process ahead in order to gain ballot access.

Currently, Kennedy has completed the process to appear on the ballot in only a few states, but in some states the process has not even opened yet for third party candidates. In other states, including Pennsylvania, the window recently opened to begin the petition process. 

In Pennsylvania, candidates must have 5,000 valid signatures; the process opened on February 14, 2024, and must be completed by August 1, 2024.

No Labels currently has ballot access in nineteen states. Both campaigns report that they are actively gathering signatures to meet the deadlines in the remainder of states.

The question remains whether a third-party candidate, despite the current political environment, can actually win the presidential election. The last competitive candidate was Ross Perot in 1992 who earned almost 19 percent of the popular vote, yet he did not garner a single electoral vote.

It may very well be that the only path forward for a third-party candidate is the elimination of the electoral college system. And it’s not a farfetched concept. Currently, the United States is 65 electoral college votes away from enacting a National Popular Vote methodology for presidential elections. 

A bipartisan group, National Popular Vote, a non-profit dedicated to eliminating the “winner takes all” system for Presidential elections, has successfully lobbied sixteen states and the District of Columbia to pass legislation that would, in effect, move the country to a national popular vote to elect the president and vice president.

The states comprising the 205 electoral college votes already cast in favor of the National Popular Vote include California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

The initiative to advance the National Popular Vote was formulated by two entrepreneurs: John Koaz and Tom Delsanto. They believe that the “winner-take-all” system under the electoral college is not fair and creates bigger issues across the country.

According to the group, 41 states with 80 percent of the population will be ignored in the 2024 presidential election. Voter turnout is generally seven percent higher in battleground states (67 percent) versus the so-called “spectator states” (60 percent). National Popular Vote advocates believe that candidates should have a reason to campaign in all 50 states. Five of the 46 presidents have come into office without winning the national popular vote, including two in recent elections (2000 and 2016). Each time it happens, public trust in the system is degraded. 

National Popular Vote advocates believe that the current system is a continuing threat to national security and stability. They maintain that the results of presidential elections will regularly be decided by a few thousand voters in a handful of states. For example, in 2020 and 2016, there were three decisive states. In 2012, there were four decisive states; and in 2004 and 2000, there was one decisive state. “Elections depending on small margins invite hair-splitting legal challenges based on issues that may be real, exaggerated, contrived, or imaginary.” All of those scenarios can lead to lack of confidence in the system, resulting in voter dissatisfaction and apathy.

Defenders of the current electoral college system typically say that big cities will dominate the election under the popular vote methodology. The National Popular Vote advocates disagree because they believe that big cities don’t actually dominate, citing that 85 percent of the American population lives in a location with less than 365,000 people. Prior presidential campaigns reveal that candidates focus disproportionately on battleground states, leaving other states and voters spectating on the sidelines.

Furthermore, opponents of the National Popular Vote note that the electoral college and “winner-take-all” system is grounded in the Constitution. But according to advocates for the one person, one vote methodology, the “winner-take-all is not in the U.S. Constitution and was never mentioned at the 1787 Constitutional Convention.” State laws, not federal laws determine the methodology for awarding votes to the presidential candidates. Currently all states except Maine and Nebraska have a “winner-take-all” law to award all electoral votes to one candidate.

Advocates for the National Popular Vote also cite the problem of non-citizens affecting the allocation of electoral votes under the current system. Electoral votes are determined by “the whole number of free persons.” They are not determined by the number of legal voters; thus non-citizens are disproportionately impacting some states, including Pennsylvania. Since 2012, Democratic states have gained more electoral votes with an increase of five in California, one in New York, and one in Washington. In 2022, Pennsylvania lost one electoral vote, moving from 20 to 19.

Overall, there are many variables that will impact the 2024 presidential election; however, a perfect storm could erupt if both No Labels and Kennedy are on the ballot and the National Popular Vote initiative is enacted. The likelihood of this happening is low, yet imagine the chaos that would ensue. 

And maybe that is what America needs this year – a disruption to the system that produced a rematch of 2020 with two old men who the majority of voters believe have no business running for office. 

Beth Ann Rosica resides in West Chester, has a Ph.D. in Education, and has dedicated her career to advocating on behalf of at-risk children and families. She covers education issues for Broad + Liberty. Contact her at

Kyle Sammin is Broad + Liberty’s managing editor.

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