Running for Office

Do You Want To Run For Office?
In order to run for office you have to get your name on the ballot. One way to do this is to be nominated by one of the major parties (Democratic or Republican) who have established ballot lines for all offices and elections. Alternatively, there are some “minor parties”, such as The Working Families Party, that have ballot lines for some offices. All nominations are governed by state law and each political party has its own rules about its nomination process.

Forcing a Primary Election

A candidate who fails to get his party’s nomination is allowed to force a primary election, either by getting a sufficiently large percentage of the delegate vote at the nominating convention, or by petition. The petition process for a primary is similar to the petition process for the general election described below.

Petitioning Candidate for General Election
The other way to get on the ballot as a candidate in the general election is by petition. This process is governed by state law as to when the petition(s) may be taken out, who may circulate the petition(s), how many signatures are needed, and when the petition(s) must be turned in. Instructions are available from the Secretary of the State's website along with answers to frequently asked questions. Candidates who gather enough petition signatures are given a line on the ballot, which allows voters to vote for them. These votes are tabulated and the election results are published along with those for other offices.

Write-In Candidates
There are also procedures for someone to become a “registered write-in” candidate. If these are followed, the votes written in for that candidate will be tabulated and included in the published election results. Write-in votes for persons, real or imaginary, who are not registered as candidates are not counted.

Campaign Finance Laws
Candidates for public office have to follow campaign finance rules and reporting requirements as set forth in state law and in regulations by the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC). Rules and forms can be found on the SEEC website. Generally, these rules apply within a few days after a person becomes a candidate.