Ballot access requirements for political candidates in Delaware

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See also
This page contains extensive information about ballot access requirements for state and federal candidates running for elected office in the state of Delaware. Offices included are:

This page contains information on specific filing dates for each election year, how to become a candidate, how to create a political party, campaign finance requirements, state agency contacts involved in the election process, and term limits in Delaware. Information on running for election as a presidential candidate or for county and municipal offices is not included. This page reflects research completed in April 2014.

Note: If you have any questions or comments about this page, email us.

Year-specific dates

2014

See also: Delaware elections, 2014

Delaware held a primary election on September 9, 2014 and a general election on November 4, 2014. Voters elected candidates to serve in the following state and federal offices:

The deadline for candidates to file was July 8, 2014. The deadline for minor parties to nominate their candidates was August 1, 2014. Candidates that wished to run unaffiliated with a party had to file a declaration of non-affiliation by September 2, 2014, and write-in candidates had to file by September 30, 2014.[1] In order to participate in the 2014 elections, a newly created political party needed to qualify by August 19, 2014.[2] These deadlines, in addition to campaign finance deadlines, are included in the table below.[3][4]

Legend:      Ballot access     Campaign finance     Election date




Dates and Requirements for Candidates in 2014
Deadline Event type Event description
January 21, 2014 Campaign finance Annual Report due
July 8, 2014 Ballot access Major party candidate filing deadline
August 1, 2014 Ballot access Deadline for minor parties to nominate their candidates by convention
August 12, 2014 Campaign finance 30-Day Election Report due for candidates running in the primary election
August 19, 2014 Ballot access Deadline to qualify as a new political party
September 2, 2014 Ballot access Unaffiliated candidate filing deadline
September 3, 2014 Campaign finance Eight-Day Election Report due for candidates running in the primary election
September 9, 2014 Election date Primary election date
September 30, 2014 Ballot access Write-in candidate filing deadline
October 7, 2014 Campaign finance 30-Day Election Report due for candidates running in the general election
October 29, 2014 Campaign finance Eight-Day Election Report due for candidates running in the general election
November 4, 2014 Election date General election
January 20, 2015 Campaign finance Annual Report due

Political parties

See also: List of political parties in the United States

As of August 2013, Delaware officially recognized five political parties.[2] In order to be recognized by the state, a political party must fulfill certain requirements, which are detailed below in "Process to establish a political party."

Party Website link By-laws/platform link
Democratic http://www.deldems.org/ Party rules
Green http://gpde.us/ Party by-laws
Independent Party of Delaware http://www.independentpartyofdelaware.org/ Party platform
Libertarian http://de.lp.org/ Party platform
Republican http://www.delawaregop.com/ National party platform

In some states, a candidate may choose to have a label other than that of an officially recognized party appear alongside his or her name on the ballot. Such labels are called political party designations. A political party designation would be used when a candidate qualifies as an independent, but prefers to use a different label. Delaware does not allow candidates to identify in this way. A total of 25 states allow candidates to use political party designations in non-presidential elections.

The 11 states listed below (and Washington, D.C.) do not provide a process for political organizations to gain qualified status in advance of an election. Instead, in these states, an aspirant party must first field candidates using party designations. If the candidate or candidates win the requisite votes, the organization may then be recognized as an official political party. In these states, a political party can be formed only if the candidate in the general election obtains a specific number of votes. The number of votes required and type of race vary from state to state. Details can be found on the state-specific requirements pages.[5]

Process to establish a political party

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Title 15, Chapter 30 of the Delaware Code

Gaining ballot access

In Delaware, a political party will not be listed on the general election ballot unless a number of registered voters equal to one-tenth of one percent of the total registered voters in the state as of December 31 of the year before the election have affiliated with that party no later than three weeks before the primary election.[2][6] Voters can affiliate with a minor party on their voter registration forms.[7]

As long as the minor party maintains at least one-tenth of one percent of affiliated voters each year, the party will remain a recognized minor party. To become a major party, at least five percent of all registered voters in the state must affiliate with the party by December 31 of the year before the election.[8]

For an example of how many registered voters are needed to affiliate with a political party in order for it to gain ballot access, look to the table below.

Total registered voters as of January 1, 2014 Number needed to affiliate to be a minor party Number needed to affiliate to be a major party
636,315[9] 636 31,816

Convention requirements

Nominating conventions are used to put minor party candidates on the ballot. In some cases, major party candidates may also use nominating conventions to put their candidates on the ballot. This is only allowed for offices that no candidate has filed for or for offices for which minor party candidates have been selected.[10]

Nominating conventions must be held on or before August 1 of the year of the election. No nominating convention will be considered completed until at least one nominee for each office that can be filled has been chosen by receiving a vote of 50 percent or more of the total votes cast by delegates for that office.[10]

Process to become a candidate

Figure 1: This is the Candidate Filing Form for candidates running for election in Delaware.
Quick facts about Lieutenant Governors
  • 45 states have Lt. governors, 43 of them fill the office by election
  • 21 states elect Lt. governors on a single ticket with the governor at both the primary and general elections
  • 5 states elect Lt. governors separately from Governors at the primary and then put the top two vote-getters together on the general election ballot
  • 17 states, including Delaware, elect Lt. governors separately from the Governor

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Title 15 of the Delaware Code

Major party candidates

There are two ways major party candidates can be nominated.[10]

1) Filing a notice of candidacy

To be nominated at the primary election, candidates must file by this method.[11] They must first file the notice of candidacy with the chair of the state committee of their party if seeking statewide office or the chair of the county committee of their party if seeking district office. The notice of candidacy should include the signature, printed name and address of the candidate. Candidates must be registered members of the party they are seeking to represent in the election, as shown on the voter rolls of the Department of Elections.[12]

Candidates must then file a copy of the original notice of candidacy with the State Election Commissioner and pay the party filing fee by noon on the second Tuesday in July.[12][13] Filing fees are determined by the political parties but cannot be greater than one percent of the total salary of the entire term of the office sought by the candidate.[14] The filing fees for the 2014 elections for both the Democratic and Republican parties were as follows:[15][16][17]

Office sought Filing fee
U.S. Senator $10,440
U.S. Representative $3,480
Attorney General $5,808
Auditor $4,341
Treasurer $4,534
State Senator $1,744
State Representative $872

Candidates may file an in-lieu-of-filing-fee petition if they are considered indigent by the state. To be considered indigent by the state, the candidate must be receiving benefits under the Supplemental Security Income Program for Aged, Blind and Disabled, or else the State Election Commissioner must determine that the candidate meets the same income and resources test to receive such benefits. In order to determine indigent status, the candidate must provide copies of his or her income tax returns and must authorize the State Election Commissioner to the receive any other information that might be needed from banks, credit reporting services, etc.[14]

The in-lieu-of-filing-fee petition must be signed by a number of registered voters equal to one percent of all registered voters in the election districts in which the candidate will appear on the ballot. These petitions cannot be circulated until after January 1 of the year of the election in which the candidate is running.[14]

2) Getting nominated at a party convention

Major party candidates may be nominated at a state convention only for offices that no candidate has filed for or for offices for which minor party candidates have been selected. Candidates nominated at a convention must be registered with the party they seek to represent at the time of the convention, as shown on the voter rolls of the Department of Elections. Conventions to nominate such candidates must be held before August 1 of the year of the election. If any candidates are elected by convention, the presiding officer and secretary of the convention must submit a certificate of nomination to the State Election Commissioner.[10] These must be filed by September 1, or the next business day if it falls on a weekend or holiday.[18]

Minor party candidates

Minor party candidates are selected at their party's state or county nominating conventions. To be nominated at a convention, candidates must be registered members of the minor party. These nominating conventions must be held on or before August 1 of the year of the election, and no later than 4:30 p.m. on August 15, or the next business day if it falls on a weekend or holiday, the minor party must file a nominating resolution with the State Election Commissioner for each statewide office and to the respective department of elections for all other offices. The nominating resolution must contain the name and address of each candidate and the office for which they were nominated.[10] Certificates of nomination for each candidate must then be filed by September 1, or the next business day if it falls on a weekend or holiday.[18]

Unaffiliated candidates

Unaffiliated candidates petition to gain access to the general election ballot. On the petition they must collect signatures equal in number to one percent of all registered voters as of December 31 of the year prior to the election who are eligible to vote for the office the candidate seeks. The petition can be circulated between January 1 and July 15 of the election year and must be filed with the Department of Elections for each county where the petition was circulated. Unaffiliated candidates must also file a sworn declaration stating that the candidate has not been affiliated with any political party for at least three months prior to filing as an unaffiliated candidate. This form is filed with the State Election Commissioner.[19]

For an example of how many signatures unaffiliated candidates needed to collect as of January 1, 2014, look to the table below.

Office sought Signatures needed[9]
Statewide office, such as Treasurer 6,363
State Senator from District 14 95

Write-in candidates

Write-in candidates are only allowed to run in general or special elections.[20] To have their votes counted, write-in candidates must file a Write-in Candidate Declaration with the State Election Commissioner if running for statewide office or with the Department of Elections of the relevant county if running for district office.[21]

Candidates cannot run as write-in candidates if they have already been placed on the general election ballot, as they cannot run for more than one office. Additionally, candidates cannot run if they withdrew as a candidate in the same election year.[21]

Petition requirements

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Title 15 of the Delaware Code

In some cases, political parties and/or candidates may need to obtain signatures via the petition process to gain ballot access. This section outlines the laws and regulations pertaining to petitions and circulators in Delaware.

Petitions

Petitions in Delaware are used by unaffiliated candidates to gain access to the general election ballot and by political party candidates to waive political party filing fees. When signing one of these petitions, signers must include their printed name, the address where they are registered to vote, their social security number and the date they signed the petition. They must also sign a statement indicating they understand that if they intentionally provide false information, they could be subject to prosecution for perjury.[22] Signers of in-lieu-of-filing-fee petitions for political party candidates must also indicate their affiliation with the same political party as the candidate. Signers may sign only one petition for each office up for election, unless there will be multiple people elected to the office, in which case signers may sign petitions equal to the number they could vote for in the election for that office.[23]

Petitions may be composed of one or more sheets. Different sheets must be used for signers who reside in different counties. When filed, the sheets should be bound together and numbered consecutively.[23]

Circulators

Filed petitions must contain a sworn notarized statement that the circulator witnessed the signing of each signature and that to the best of the circulator's knowledge and belief, the signers are registered voters of the election district in which the candidate is running.[23][22] The code does not specify any requirements for circulators.

Campaign finance

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Title 15, Chapter 80 of the Delaware Code

The campaign finance reporting process for candidates seeking state office in Delaware is outlined below. Candidates seeking federal office must file with the Federal Election Commission. Reporting details for federal candidates are not included in this section.

Candidates in Delaware may file all campaign finance reports through the Delaware Campaign Finance Reporting System, which can be found here.

Candidate committees

Before campaign finance reporting can begin, candidates must form candidate committees. All contributions and expenditures must go through the candidate committee, and the candidate committee must keep records of such transactions, as well as maintain those records for a period of three years. Each candidate may have only one candidate committee at a time. When forming the candidate committee, the candidate must name a treasurer. The treasurer must be separate from the candidate, but the candidate must share the responsibilities of keeping records and filing reports with the treasurer.[24]

Candidates seeking offices that pay $1,000 or less per year do not have to form candidate committees or file campaign finance reports. They do, however, have to sign a statement with the State Election Commissioner affirming that they do not intend to receive or spend more than $2,000 for the campaign. If they do end up receiving or spending over $2,000, they must notify the State Election Commissioner within seven days and file all reports that would have been required during that election year.[25]

Reporting requirements

Reports must be cumulative for the election period and need to include a sworn statement, signed by the candidate or the treasurer claiming that every aspect of the report is true and correct and covers all campaign transactions required to be reported for the reporting period. Reports should include the following:[4]

  • All cash and assets on hand at the beginning of the reporting period.
  • The name and address of each person who made a contribution in excess of $100 during the reporting period, along with the date and amount of those contributions. The total amount of contributions that person has given during the election cycle must also be included. If the person who made the contributions is not an individual and the contributions exceed $1,200, the name and address of one responsible party for that person must also be included.
  • The total contributions accepted that were not otherwise included in the report.
  • The name and address of each political committee involved in transferring funds during the reporting period, including the amount and date of each transfer.
  • The amount of each debt owed by or to the candidate committee in excess of $50 at the end of the reporting period, as well as the names and addresses of any lenders, borrowers or endorsers of such debt, including the date and interest rate of any loans and a description of any securities given.
  • The total amount of proceeds from events or sales of campaign-related items during the reporting period.
  • The total receipts during the reporting period.
  • The name and address of each person to whom any expenditure was made in an aggregate total of $100 or more, along with the amount, date and purpose of each expenditure.
  • The total amount of expenditures made by the candidate committee during the reporting period.
  • Any in-kind contributions given to the candidate committee that have been assessed at fair-market value to be worth over $100.

Reports must be filed for every reporting period during which a candidate committee is in existence. Candidates are jointly responsible with the treasurer of the candidate committee for filing reports for the candidate committee. The report filing schedule can be found in the table below.[4]

Report Time period covered by the report Report due date
Annual Report Day after last day reported on last report (or first day the candidate committee receives a contribution or makes an expenditure) through December 31 20 days after the last day covered in the report, unless it is a state holiday in which case it should be filed on the next business day
30-Day Election Report Day after last day reported on last report through 30 days before an election in which the candidate’s name will appear on the ballot Two days after the last day covered in the report, unless it is a state holiday in which case it should be filed on the next business day
Eight-Day Election Report Day after last day reported on last report through eight days before an election in which the candidate’s name will appear on the ballot Two days after the last day covered in the report, unless it is a state holiday in which case it should be filed on the next business day

Any funds remaining after a candidate committee has completed its reporting requirements for the election cycle and paid off all its debts may be disbursed in one of the following ways:[26]

  • Transferred to successor committees for the same candidate and the same office without being subject to contribution limits.
  • Transferred to successor committees for a different office, as long as the transfer remains within contribution limits.
  • Donated to any religious, charitable, educational or scientific organization exempt from Delaware income tax.
  • Contributed to a political party, as long as the contribution remains within contribution limits for political parties.

Contribution limits

Candidate committees may not knowingly accept a contribution made in a fictitious name or in the name of another person. Candidate committees must know the true name and address of all contributors.[27]

Contribution limits apply to the entire election cycle (primary and general elections). Contributions to candidate committees from people, not including political parties, may not exceed:[28]

Office sought Contribution limit
Statewide office $1,200
District or county office $600

Contributions to candidate committees from political parties may not exceed:[28]

Office sought Contribution limit
Governor $75,000
State executive office, other than governor $25,000
State Senator $5,000
State Representative $3,000
All other offices $3,000

Election-related agencies

See also: State election agencies

Candidates running for office may require some form of interaction with the following agencies:

Office of the State Election Commissioner

Why: This agency oversees candidate filing and reporting and all election procedures.
905 S. Governors Ave, Suite 170
Dover, DE 19904
Telephone: 302-739-4277
Email: coe_vote@state.de.us
http://elections.delaware.gov/

Public Integrity Commission

Why: This agency administers ethics laws for the executive branch, financial disclosure laws for all three branches of government and all expense reporting laws.
410 Federal Street
Margaret O'Neil Bldg., Suite 3
Dover, DE 19901
Telephone: (302) 739-2399
Fax: (302) 739-2398
http://depic.delaware.gov/

Counties

Certain candidates running for state legislative office must file their nominating documents with the counties in which they reside. Also, unaffiliated candidates who wish to petition for ballot access must have their petitions verified by the counties in which they were circulated. Individual county contact information can be found in the table below. To provide a link or information in the table, please email us.

Delaware county contact information
County Email Phone number Fax number Website Physical address Mailing address
Kent County Department of Elections (302) 739-4498 (302) 739-4515 link 100 Enterprise Place, Suite 5, Dover DE 19904 P.O. Box 699, Dover, DE 19903
New Castle County Department of Elections votencc@state.de.us (302) 577-3464 (302) 577-6545 link Carvel State Office Building, 820 N French St STE 400, Wilmington, DE 19801-3531
Sussex County Department of Elections kenneth.l.mcdowell@state.de.us (302) 856-5367 (302 )856-5082 link 119 North Race Street P.O. Box 457, Georgetown, DE. 19947

Term limits

Delaware state executives are term limited. These limits are established in Article III, Sections 5 and 9 of the Delaware Constitution.

State executives

Portal:State Executive Officials
See also: State executives with term limits and States with gubernatorial term limits

The state executive term limits in Delaware are as follows:[29]

There were no state executives term-limited in 2014.

State legislators

See also: State legislatures with term limits

There are no term limits placed on Delaware state legislators.

Congressional partisanship

Portal:Congress
See also: List of United States Representatives from Delaware and List of United States Senators from Delaware

Here is the current partisan breakdown of the congressional members from Delaware:

Congressional Partisan Breakdown from Delaware
Party U.S. Senate U.S. House Total
     Democratic Party 1 2 3
     Republican Party 0 0 0
TOTALS as of December 2014 1 2 3

State legislative partisanship

Portal:State legislatures

Here is the current partisan breakdown of members of the state legislature of Delaware:

State Senate

Party As of December 2014
     Democratic Party 13
     Republican Party 8
Total 21

State House

Party As of December 2014
     Democratic Party 27
     Republican Party 14
Total 41


Recent news

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See also

External links

Official state and federal links

Forms

Other information

References

  1. State Election Commissioner, "2014 Delaware Election Calendar," accessed November 5, 2013 (dead link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Ballotpedia email with Delaware Office of the State Election Commissioner on September 10, 2013
  3. State Election Commissioner, "2014 Reporting Periods," Updated December 19, 2013 (dead link)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Delaware Code, Title 15, Chapter 80, Subchapter IV, Section 8030," accessed March 24, 2014
  5. E-mail consultation with ballot access expert Richard Winger in January 2014.
  6. Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 30, Section 3001," accessed March 19, 2014
  7. State of Delaware, "Voter Registration Application and Eligibility Affidavit," accessed March 26, 2014
  8. Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 1, Section 101," accessed March 26, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 State of Delaware, "Elections Voter Registration Totals," Updated January 1, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 33, Section 3301," accessed March 19, 2014
  11. Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 31, Subchapter I, Section 3101A," accessed March 19, 2014
  12. 12.0 12.1 Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 31, Subchapter I, Section 3106," accessed March 19, 2014
  13. Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 31, Subchapter I, Section 3101," accessed March 19, 2014
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 31, Subchapter I, Section 3103," accessed March 19, 2014
  15. Delaware Democratic Party, "List of Filing Fees," December 4, 2013
  16. Republican State Committee of Delaware, "List of Filing Fees," January 17, 2014
  17. Ballotpedia email correspondence with the Delaware Democratic Party.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 33, Section 3303," accessed March 19, 2014
  19. Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 30, Section 3002," accessed March 19, 2014
  20. Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 34, Section 3401," accessed March 19, 2014
  21. 21.0 21.1 Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 34, Section 3402," accessed March 19, 2014
  22. 22.0 22.1 Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 30, Section 3002," accessed March 19, 2014
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 31, Subchapter I, Section 3103," accessed March 19, 2014
  24. Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 80, Subchapter I, Section 8003," accessed March 24, 2014
  25. Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 80, Subchapter I, Section 8005," accessed March 24, 2014
  26. Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 80, Subchapter III, Section 8022," accessed March 24, 2014
  27. Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 80, Subchapter I, Section 8006," accessed March 24, 2014
  28. 28.0 28.1 Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 80, Subchapter II, Section 8010," accessed March 24, 2014
  29. Delaware Constitution, "Article III, Sections 5 and 19," accessed November 5, 2013