Becoming a Candidate
Candidates for office must meet certain qualifications and are required to file specific documents in order to qualify to appear on the ballot. These qualifications and requirements may vary slightly depending on whether the office sought is a local office, a general assembly seat, a statewide office, or a federal office. Generally, all candidates must meet the following minimum qualifications:
- Be qualified to vote for and hold the office sought.
- Be a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia for 1 year immediately preceding the election.
The board has developed and published candidate informational bulletins specific to each office type. In addition to the qualifications, forms and filing requirements, candidate information bulletins provide candidates with information he/she will need to run for office.
You may download the information through the Department of Elections website at www.sbe.virginia.gov or contact them to request that candidate informational bulletin and candidate forms be mailed to you for a $10.00 charge. Please send check in the amount of $10.00 made payable to the State Board of Elections to:
Department of Elections
Attn: Election Services Division
200 North Ninth Street, Suite 101
Richmond, VA 23219-3497
Include with your payment the office and, if applicable, the district, in which you are seeking election. Once the check is received, the packet will be sent to you through first class mail. Candidate packets for future elections can not be requested until after January 1 of the year in which the election is held.
Qualifications to Be a Candidate
A candidate must be:
- Qualified to vote and hold the office sought;
- A resident of the Commonwealth for one year immediately preceding the election;
- A resident, by the time of filing, of the county, city or town in which he offers for election;
- And, if he/she is seeking a district seat, a resident of the election district to be represented.
Documents Required to be Filed
A candidate must file certain documents in order to qualify to appear on the ballot. Each form is described below. An explanation of who is required to file each item also provided. Each document can be downloaded from the Department of Elections website.
Statement of Organization for a Candidate
This document is prepared and distributed by the Department of Elections. Any individual serving as campaign treasurer must be a qualified voter of the Commonwealth. A candidate may serve as his/her own treasurer.
Virginia law requires each candidate to provide the name and addresses of his campaign treasurer, the name of the financial institution in which he establishes his campaign account and, if one, the name of his campaign committee.
This document is required to be filed as soon as you receive or expend monies relating to your candidacy or file any form listed in Items B through E herein. For further details, see Starting A Campaign Committee in the Summary of the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act published by the Department of Elections and also found on their website: http://www.sbe.virginia.gov
Certificate of Candidate Qualification
This document is prepared and distributed by the Department of Elections. All candidates are required to file this form.
Declaration of Candidacy
This document is prepared and distributed by the Department of Elections. It must be filed by primary election candidates and independent (non-party) candidates. If petitions also are required for the office sought, the Declaration must be filed at the same time as the petitions. See below for number of signatures required on petitions.
Candidates for political party nomination by a method other than a primary file this declaration and the petitions described below only if so required by the rules of the political party. Contact us to determine if they are required.
This document is prepared and distributed by the Department of Elections. Petitions containing at least the number of signatures required for the office sought must be filed together with the Declaration of Candidacy. See below for number of signatures required on petitions.
- Petition Circulator
Petitions may be circulated by either the candidate or another person who is, or who is eligible to be, registered and qualified to vote for the office and, if applicable, in the district for which the petition is circulated. For At Large seats, by any eligible resident of the county or city or town in which the candidate is seeking election; for a specific district or ward, by any eligible resident of the same district or ward as the candidate.
The person circulating the petition must affirm before a notary or other person authorized to administer oaths, that he/she personally witnessed the affixing of the signatures. Falsely taking this affidavit is a felony under Virginia Law. The circulator can NEVER leave the petition unattended, e.g. left on the counter at a grocery store, restaurant, etc.
- Number of Signatures Required
Petitions must contain the signatures of at least 125 qualified voters of the district.
- If a board of supervisor or school board election district has 1,000 or fewer registered voters as of January 1, 2006, petitions must contain the signatures of at least 50 qualified voters of the district.
- If a town has more than 1,500 registered voters as of January 1, 2006, the following signature requirements apply:
- For At Large seats, signatures of at least 125 qualified voters of the town;
- For town district seats, signatures of at least 25 qualified voters of the town district seat.
- Exceptions: If a town has 1,500 or fewer registered voters as of January 1, 2006, NO petition is required.
The State Board recommends that a candidate get at least half again the number of signatures required to assure that enough are qualified voters.
Statement of Economic Interests
This document is prepared by the Secretary of the Commonwealth and should be available from the Clerk of the governing body, the Clerk of the school board or the Clerk of the City or Town Council. It is required to be filed by all candidates for any constitutional office. It is also required to be filed by candidates for board of supervisors, city council, school board and town council in counties, cities and towns having a population of 3,500.
Exception: Individuals who are officers or employees need not re-file this form as candidates if they meet the requirement for filing in January 2006.
Primary Filing Fee
As the name suggests, this fee is required to be filed ONLY by primary election candidates. The amount required to be paid is 2% of the annual salary for the office sought in effect in the year in which the candidate files. Contact the finance officer of the county or city for details.
NOTE: Candidates who are nominated by a political party by a method other than a primary Election may be required to pay a filing fee. This fee is determined by the rules of the political party. Contact your county or city chair for details.
For Required Forms, Where to file and Filing Deadline please contact your General Registrar.
Notice of Deficiencies in Declaration or Petitions
An independent (non-party) candidate my request notification of any problems with his filing that can be corrected before the filing deadline. This request must be in writing as required by § 24.2-505 of the Code of Virginia.
This letter must be addressed to the Secretary of the Electoral Board of the candidate's county or city of residence. It must accompany the declaration of candidacy and, if required, the petitions filed with the General Registrar.
The written request does not guarantee timely response. Certain factors, may affect the electoral board's ability to comply with the request, that is, the number of filings, etc. It is suggested that documents be filed at least ten (10) working days before the filing deadline if this notice is requested.
Other Required Reports
All candidates must file pre-election and post-election Reports of Campaign Contributions and Expenditures. These reports are filed only with the Electoral Board of the candidate's county or city of residence and are due even if no contributions are received nor expenditures are made. In this case, only a Report of No Activity must be filed. Forms are prescribed by, and available from, the State Board of Elections.
Contact your General Registrar for dates reports are due.
No certificate of election can be issued to any successful candidate who fails to file the required reports.
- A candidate for local office who files an exemption form certifying that he has not and will not solicit or accept any contribution from any other person during the course of his/her Campaign and has not and will not contribute or expend more then $1,000 during the course of this campaign, is required to file reports of large pre-election contributions and a final report. A form for this purpose is prepared and distributed by the State Board of Elections.
- Candidates for town council offices in a town with a population of less then 25,000 are exempt from the provisions of the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act.
Order of Names on Ballots
Candidates appear on the ballot in the order in which they file. This is why no candidate my file earlier than noon on March 28, 2006, nor later than 5:00 pm on April 14, 2006. If two or more candidates file at the same time, the order in which they appear will be determined by a drawing conducted by the Electoral Board of the county or city.
The candidates of political parties appear first on the ballot in the order determined by a drawing conducted by the State Board of Elections. Non-partisan or independent candidates appear in alphabetical order following the candidates of political parties.
In multi-seat districts, if more than one candidate is nominated by the same party or more than one independent candidate qualified, such candidates appear alphabetically within their party groups.
The Successful Candidate
Any successful candidate for a constitutional office or, for any other office in counties, cities and towns having a population in the excess of 3,500, must file, as a condition to assuming office, with the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors or the Clerk of the School Board or the Clerk of the city or Town Council as appropriate, a second Statement of Economic Interests as required by §2.2-3115 and 2.2-3116 of the Code of Virginia prior to taking office, and annually thereafter by January 15 of each year. Forms are prescribed by the Secretary of the Commonwealth and should be available from the appropriate clerk.
The successful candidate in a general election is required by law to qualify and take the oath of office on or before the term of office begins or, for a county, city or town governing body or school board, no later than the initial meeting of the county, city or town governing body or school board.
The successful candidate in a special election is required by law to qualify and take the oath of office within thirty days of the election.
Failure to qualify in a timely manner creates a vacancy in the office.