Getting on enough November ballots to make a strong bid for the presidency may be a tougher challenge than John B. Anderson anticipated when he launched his campaign as an "independent" two months ago.
The problem is not collecting sufficient voter signatures to qualify, but seeing to it that other requirements are met.
Of the 13 states in which Mr. Anderson has filed nomination papers, in only four -- Kansas, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Utah -- has the Illinois Republican congressman been assured a place on the ballot.
Similar papers, containing in some instances substantially more signatures than required, are pending in five of the states: Idaho, Massachusetts, Michigan , West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
In the remaining four -- Kentucky, Maine, New Mexico, and Ohio -- where the filing deadline had passed before Mr. Anderson decided to run for president as an independent, the signatures have been disallowed.
Anderson backers, however, are fighting to overturn these rulings and are challenging a Maryland law requiring that one-third of the signatures there be turned in by March 3.
Potentially of greater concern to the Anderson campaign is the outcome of a challenge to Mr. Anderson's right to be placed on the Massachusetts ballot.
The complaint, alleging the nomination papers as an independent are invalid since Mr. Anderson is a registered Republican, was brought by a Needham housewife, but her attorney has acknowledged he is being paid partially by the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
While the extent of the latter's involvement may never come to light, it is clearly in the political interests of President Carter's re-election effort not to have the political "independent" on the Bay State ballot.
On the basis of his strong showing in the March 4 Massachusetts presidential primary, it is generally agreed that Mr. Anderson could win a large number of votes here, not only among Republicans and independents, but Democrats as well. Some observers feel that the Illinois congressman could best both Mr. Carter and Ronald Reagan, the expected Republican nominee, in the Bay State, thus winning its 14 electoral votes.
Anderson forces have been counting heavily on Massachusetts, where in less than three weeks more than 2 1/2 times the required 39,174 signatures were gathered. If Anderson foes are successful in getting his nomination papers disqualified here, the DNC and others would be encouraged to launch similar efforts elsewhere. The Massachusetts Ballot Law Commission is expected to rule late this week on the move to block the Anderson candidacy in the state.