Becoming a Candidate

Running for Office

State law sets out the procedures for running for office at the municipal, county, or state level. If you want to run for a municipal office or a county-wide office, the County Supervisor of Elections will guide you. For state-wide or multi-county districts, you would qualify with the Division of Elections in Tallahassee.

The first step is to file a designation of treasurer and depository (bank). You may not collect or spend money on your campaign before you do this, but, of course, you may talk to people about it at any time. Once you have filed your designation, you are a candidate and should follow Chapter 106 of the election Code which the Supervisor of Elections will give you, as well as Chapter 105 for Judicial and School Board candidates.

"Qualifying" is the official process of getting your name on the ballot. This occurs approximately ten weeks before the first election. The Supervisor of Elections will tell you when the exact dates are, and you must file all your papers and pay your fees by noon of the last qualifying day, or your name will not be put on the ballot. The Supervisor of Elections will give you a packet of all papers to file, including a financial disclosure form.

The fees to run for office are based on a percentage of the salary of the office. You must pay the fees out of your campaign funds. As an alternative to paying the fee, you may get petitions signed. Any registered voter in the county may sign your petition regardless of his/her party affiliation. The number needed is equal to 1% of the total number of registered voters in the county for the last general election. The signatures must be collected in time for the Supervisor of Elections to verify them.

If you run as a Democrat or Republican, you will have to run in a Primary Election if there are others running for the same office in the same party. Only one candidate from each major party can run in the General Election. If you run as a minor party candidate or candidate with no party affiliation, you will only run on the General Election ballot.  If all candidates for an office have the same party affiliation and the winner will have no opposition in the general election, all qualified electors, regardless of party affiliation, may vote in the primary elections for the office.

Judicial and school board candidates are nonpartisan candidates.  If no candidate for such office receives a majority of the votes cast for that race in the first primary election, the names of the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes in that race shall be placed on the general election ballot.

Enforcement Of Campaign Laws

Chapter 104 of the Florida Statutes governs violations of Florida's election laws. It specifies the acts that are illegal as to influencing peoples' votes, voting, and conducting elections.

Jurisdiction to investigate and determine violations of Florida election laws is vested in the Florida Division of Elections and the Florida Elections Commission. Violations of Florida Statues governing campaigns are subject to penalties ranging from fines and warnings, up to removal of the candidate's name from the ballot, disqualification from taking office, and other criminal penalties.