WASHINGTON, Aug. 15 (UPI) -- The Commission on Presidential Debates on Monday announced it will use five different polls to determine which candidates will be able to participate in the upcoming presidential debates.
The nonpartisan commission, which determines the lineup for every U.S. presidential election, said the polls that will determine this year's lineup will be those conducted by ABC News-Washington Post, CBS News-New York Times, NBC News-Wall Street Journal, CNN-Opinion Research Corporation and Fox News.
The CPD said it selected those surveys on the advice of Dr. Frank Newport, editor in-chief at polling firm Gallup.
Three main factors that determined which polls will be used, the CPD said, are their reliability of polling and sample size, the soundness of the survey methodology, and the longevity and reputation of the pollster.
Because there are numerous candidates running for president, the CPD must establish a statistical threshold that determines which candidates can participate in the televised debates.
"If a candidate is invited to the first presidential debate, that person's vice presidential running mate will [automatically] be invited to the vice presidential debate," the CPD stated in a news release Monday. "The criteria will be reapplied between the first and second presidential debates and the second and third presidential debates."
The panel said to qualify, a candidate must meet three requirements:
First, qualifying candidates need to have at least 15 percent support of the national electorate -- which is determined by averaging the most recent results of all five polls.
Second, candidates must meet eligibility requirements in Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution -- which include being a U.S.-born citizen, and having resided in the United States for at least the last 14 years.
Third, a candidate's name must appear on ballots in enough states to secure the mathematical potential to win at least 270 electoral votes -- the number needed to win the election.
"The candidate who receives a majority of votes in the Electoral College .. is elected President regardless of the popular vote," the CPD noted in its news release.
The first presidential debate will be held Sept. 26 at New York's Hofstra University, the second on Oct. 9 at Washington University in St. Louis, and the third ten days later at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. The lone vice presidential debate will be held Oct. 4 at Longwood University in Virginia.
Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump will definitely qualify for all three debates, but the CPD's criteria will be used to determine whether Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, and their running mates, will take part.
Though uncommon, third-party candidates have twice qualified for the presidential and vice presidential debates since they began in 1960 -- independents John Anderson and Patrick Lucey in 1980, and Ross Perot and James Stockdale in 1992.