Ross Perot ran for president as the Reform Party’s candidate. Jill Stein, and Ralph Nader before her, flew the flag for the Green Party. And Theodore Roosevelt sought a third term as president as a member of the Progressive “Bull Moose” Party in 1912. The United State’s two-party political system has a strong tradition of so-called third parties, and you’ll see your fair share on your ballot this year in Colorado: The Centennial State has five official minor parties and one Qualified Political Organization (which basically means it’s a minor, minor party).

The Colorado Secretary of State’s website defines a minor party as “any political party other than a major political party,” which is as straightforward as it is vague. So, what, really, makes a minor political party? Besides navigating some red tape, each organization must meet one of three major requirements to be recognized as a minor party by the state of Colorado: submit a petition signed by 10,000 registered Colorado voters, have at least 1,000 registered party members, or have a candidate for statewide office receive at least five percent of the vote in the past two general elections. Fulfill any of those requirements, and any candidate for state or federal office who earns their party’s nomination will automatically be placed on the ballot.

This election, that means that Coloradans won’t just be choosing between red and blue in the general election; they’ll be considering candidates from the American Constitution Party, the Approval Voting Party, the Colorado Center Party, the Libertarian Party of Colorado, and the Unity Party of Colorado. (The Colorado Green Party didn’t nominate any candidates this election cycle.) Here, we’ve broken down each party’s platform so you can decide if you’re more aligned with one of these parties than the GOP or the Democrats.     

American Constitution Party

  • Headquarters: Fort Lupton  
  • Number of candidates: Seven
  • Motto: “The party of ‘integrity, liberty, and prosperity!’”    
  • Its website looks like: It sells life insurance. 

Select policy goals

  • Support the Electoral College and oppose changing presidential elections to a national popular vote.
  • Adopt English as America’s first and only official language.
  • Repeal the Affordable Care Act.
  • Ask the federal government to “cease and desist its unconstitutional usurpation and control” of public lands and return them to the states.
  • “Remove abortion from the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court” (which given recent events, may be a little out of date).         

Approval Voting Party

  • Headquarters: Littleton   
  • Number of candidates: Two  
  • Motto: “Pick All You Like!”
  • Its website looks like: A work in progress.

Select policy goals:

  • Move past the two-party system and elevate centrist candidates by replacing traditional voting with approval voting. Voters can choose multiple candidates in approval voting, thus purportedly limiting divisive, attack-ad-driven political campaigns that could alienate potential voters who might otherwise vote for both candidates. The candidate with the most votes wins.  

Colorado Center Party

  • Headquarters: Fort Collins  
  • Number of candidates: One
  • Motto: ​​“Building the guardrails to protect us from the far left and the far right”
  • Its website looks like: It’s from 2001.

Select policy goals: 

  • Implement ranked-choice or approval voting.
  • Protect same-sex marriage, abortion (sort of), and the environment.
  • Reform and curtail immigration.
  • Fund education and the police.
  • Implement red-flag laws.
  • Stop Democrats from creating “a new socialist America.”      

Colorado Green Party

  • Headquarters: Grand Junction   
  • Number of candidates: Zero
  • Motto: “Building for a new way free of corporate influence” 
  • Its website looks like: It sells car insurance.  

Select policy goals:

Libertarian Party of Colorado

  • Headquarters: Littleton  
  • Number of candidates: 36
  • Motto: “All your freedoms, all of the time”
  • Its website looks like: A for-profit university’s site. 

Select policy goals:

  • End the war on drugs and legalize marijuana nationally.
  • Remove the government from private, consensual relationships.
  • Reject any law restricting or hindering gun ownership, manufacture, or sale.
  • Fund public services through voluntary means instead of taxes.
  • End public schooling. 

Unity Party of Colorado

  • Headquarters: Breckenridge  
  • Number of candidates: Eight
  • Motto: “Not right. Not left. Forward.” 
  • Its website looks like: A middle school homepage.   

Select policy goals:

  • Balance budgets, replace the federal income tax with a carbon tax on fossil fuels, and install global free trade paired with a global minimum wage.
  • Implement congressional and judicial term limits.
  • Support an aggressive space program, statehood for the District of Columbia, the expansion of renewable energy, the Second Amendment, and new voting methods like approval voting and proportional representation.

Correction: This story has been updated to exclude write-ins from each party’s total number of candidates.

Nicholas Hunt
Nicholas Hunt

Nicholas writes and edits the Compass, Adventure, and Culture sections of 5280 and writes for 5280.com.