Political parties and political designations in Massachusetts

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (a U.S. state), there are four recognized political parties and an additional 25 political designations in which registered voters may choose to enroll. Voters may also choose to remain as "unenrolled voters" (i.e., independents). Political parties hold primary elections, while political designations do not. A political designation is a one-to-three word descriptive term which may appear next to candidates' names on election ballots. To be recognized as a political designation, fifty registered voters must file a document with the state seeking this status.


In Massachusetts, election ballots include the candidates' names followed by either the candidates' party or his or her "political designation"—a one-to-three word description that must be another one-to-three word term whose recognition has been requested by fifty or more registered voters. In many cases, non-party designations include the word "party" in the designation. However, only four such designations actually correspond to organizations that are recognized by Massachusetts as political parties: the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, the Libertarian Party, and the Green-Rainbow Party.

Enrolled and unenrolled votersEdit

In Massachusetts, registered voters may choose to (1) enroll in a political party; (2) enroll with a political designation; or (3) choose to be an unenrolled voter (i.e., an independent).[1][2]

Voters may change their enrollment status with their election official, with a deadline twenty days before an election.[1]

All registered voters may vote in general elections. Massachusetts voters enrolled in a particular party may vote only in that party's primary, and cannot cross-over to vote in another party's primary,[1] but "unenrolled" voters may cast a primary ballot for one of the four parties.[3][4] Political designations are treated as "unenrolled" voters for primary purposes, and so they too may choose to vote in one of the party primaries.[3]

Under Massachusetts law, a political designation is created when fifty registered Massachusetts voters "file a form with the Secretary of the Commonwealth requesting that they, or any other voters, may change their registration to such designation."[5] These non-party political designations may field candidates for statewide office, if they petition with a sufficient number of signatures (10,000).[6]

The various political designations have generally small membership, although they have attracted some media attention.[7][2]

List of current parties and designationsEdit

As of 2019, the Secretary of the Commonwealth listed four officially recognized political parties and 26 officially recognized political designations in Massachusetts.[1][8]

Designation Abbreviation Type
Democratic Party D political party
Republican Party R political party
Libertarian Party L political party
Green-Rainbow Party J political party
America First Party V non-party political designation
American Independent Party Q non-party political designation
American Term Limits BB non-party political designation
Conservative Party A non-party political designation
Constitution Party K non-party political designation
Green Party USA G non-party political designation
Interdependent 3rd Party T non-party political designation
Latino-Vote Party non-party political designation
Massachusetts Independent Party O non-party political designation
Natural Law Party B non-party political designation
New Alliance Party N non-party political designation
New England Independence Party NE non-party political designation
New World Council C non-party political designation
Pirate X non-party political designation
Pizza Party AA non-party political designation
Prohibition Party P non-party political designation
Rainbow Coalition F non-party political designation
Reform Party E non-party political designation
Socialist S non-party political designation
Timesizing Not Downsizing M non-party political designation
Twelve Visions Party DD non-party political designation
United Independent Party CC non-party political designation
Veterans Party America W non-party political designation
We The People H non-party political designation
Working Families Z non-party political designation
World Citizens Party Y non-party political designation

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d "Massachusetts Directory of Political Parties and Designations". sec.state.ma.us. Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Rhodes, George (6 August 2015). "In Mass., there's even a Pizza Party". Sun Chronicle. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  3. ^ a b Political Parties and Political Designations, As of 12/31/2014, Town of North Reading (accessed August 27, 2016).
  4. ^ State Primary Election Types, National Conference of State Legislatures (July 21, 2016).
  5. ^ Frequently Asked Questions for New Voters, City of Boston Election Department (accessed August 27, 2016).
  6. ^ Winger, Richard (8 August 2016). "Libertarian Petition in Massachusetts Has Enough Valid Signatures". Ballot Access News. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  7. ^ Quinn, Tom (14 April 2016). "Tired of politics as usual? Tap your inner pirate, or try pizza". Worcester Magazine. Retrieved 8 August 2016.
  8. ^ Cambridge Election Commission Voter Registration Training Manual. Cambridge, Massachusetts: City of Cambridge. 2011. p. 5.