SACRAMENTO, Calif.--Less than a week before the deadline, Ross Perot's new party has registered just 10,217 of the 89,007 voters it needs to win a spot on California's 1996 presidential ballot, state officials said yesterday.
Secretary of State Bill Jones said it was too early to say whether Perot's Reform Party would make the ballot. He noted that its registration figure had jumped from just 448 a week ago and that there were "a substantial number of voter registration cards in the pipeline awaiting processing."
Perot's United We Stand America political organization said it is on target to qualify for the ballot.
"Momentum is on our side. We are now over 50,000, and we are surging ahead rapidly," said Russ Verney, executive director of the group. "Fifty thousand is a hard and fast figure. We photocopied those before turning them in. We believe there are thousands of other voters who sent their registrations directly to the state."
The Texas billionaire announced his plan to place the new political party on the ballot Sept. 28, but the drive didn't get into high gear until last week.
Perot wants to put his party on the ballot in all 50 states and then nominate a candidate to challenge the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees. California has the nation's earliest deadline.
Jones said that another minor party, the science-oriented Natural Law Party, is closest to qualifying for the California ballot in 1996. It has registered 69,438 voters, an increase of 9,558 over a week ago.