State law defines the procedure for running for office at the municipal, county, and state level. If you desire 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 must qualify with the Division of Elections in Tallahassee.
The first step, whether you choose to run by paying the qualifying fee or run by the petition method, is to file a designation of campaign treasurer and depository (bank). Until this form is filed, you may not receive campaign contributions or spend any money on your campaign. You may announce your intent or discuss it with others at any time. Once you have taken the first step by filing this form, you will be given Chapter 106 of the Election Code which you are required to follow. Judicial and School Board candidates will be given Chaper 105. Once your campaign account is open, you will be required to file Campaign Treasury Reports with the Supervisor of Elections by the dates specified. A list of reporting periods and filing deadlines for those periods will be provided to all candidates.
You must follow the qualifying process in order to get your name on the ballot. "Official Qualifying Week" is usually approximately 10 weeks before the first election. All your fees must be paid and all your forms filed by noon of the last day of qualifying for your name to appear on the ballot. The Supervisor of Elections will provide you with the exact dates of qualifying as well as all the forms required to be filed. You are also required to file a Form 6 which is a financial disclosure form.
The fees to run for office are based on a percentage of the salary of the offices. The qualifying fee must be paid by check out of your campaign account. You may also choose the petition method of qualifying. Any registered voter in your jurisdiction may sign your petition cards regardless of his/her party affiliation. Signatures may not be obtained until the candidate has filed the appointment of campaign treasurer and designation of campaign depository pursuant to s. 106.021. The number of signatures needed is equal to 1% of the total number of voters in your jurisdiction as of the last General Election. A petition card will be given to you by the Supervisor of Elections for you to copy. The completed cards must be returned to the elections office for verification by the specified date. A person who seeks to qualify as a candidate who meets the petition requirements is not required to pay the qualifying fee. A book of pertinent dates will be provided to all candidates.
Candidates who run with a major party affiliation (Democrat or Republican) and have opposition of the same party will run in a Primary Election to determine who will go on to the General Election. Candidates who run as a minor party affiliation or no party affiliation will only appear on the General Election Ballot. If all the candidates running for an office are of the same party and the winner will face no opposition in the General Election, this becomes a Universal Primary Contest and all qualified electors, regardless of party affiliation, will be able to vote on this race.
Judicial and School Board candidates must run as nonpartisan candidates and are prohibited from campaigning with any party affiliation. If no candidate for such office receives a majority of the votes cast in the Primary Election, the names of the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes for that race will 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 regarding influencing people's 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 Statutes 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 the office, and other criminal penalties.
QUALIFYING DATES FOR 2018
U.S. Senator, U.S. Representative, Judicial, State Attorney and Public Defender (20th Circuit Only)
- Noon, April 30 – Noon, May 4, 2018
- Note: Qualifying papers will be accepted beginning April 16, 2018, pursuant to Section 99.061(8), F.S.
Governor and Cabinet, State Senator, State Representative, County Offices and Special Districts
- Appointment of Campaign Treasurer and Designation of Campaign Depository
- Full and Public Disclosure of Financial Interest
- Statement of Candidate (10 days after filing Appointment of Campaign Treasurer and Depository)
- Candidate's Oath
- Loyalty Oath
- Statement of Political Party Affiliation ( Partisan Candidates Only)
- Copy of Notice of Required Number of Signatures to Obtain Ballot Position (Petition Method)
or check drawn on campaign account for amount of qualifying fee