Ballot access requirements for political candidates in Delaware

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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.

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

Year-specific dates

2015

See also: Delaware elections, 2015 and Delaware school board elections, 2015

Delaware will conduct school board elections in 2015.

2014


Political parties

See also: List of political parties in the United States

As of February 2015, Delaware officially recognized five political parties. These are listed in the table below. 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."[2][5]

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.[6]

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 0.1 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. Voters can affiliate with a minor party on their voter registration forms.[2][7][8]

As long as the minor party maintains at least 0.1 percent of affiliated voters each year, the party will remain a recognized minor party. To become a major party, at least 5 percent of all registered voters in the state must affiliate with the party by December 31 of the year before the election.

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.[9]

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[10] 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.[11]

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.[11]

Process to become a candidate

Figure 1: This is the Candidate Filing Form for candidates running for election in Delaware.

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

Major party candidates

A major party candidate may be nominated in one of two ways: by filing a notice of candidacy or being nominated at convention.[11]

Filing a notice of candidacy

To be nominated at the primary election, a major party candidate must file by this method. The candidate must first file a notice of candidacy with the chair of the state committee of his or her party if seeking statewide office or the chair of the county committee of his or her party if seeking district office. The notice of candidacy must include the signature, printed name and address of the candidate. A candidate must be a registered member of the party he or she is seeking to represent in the election.[12][13]

A major party candidate must 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. Filing fees are determined by the political parties but cannot be greater than 1 percent of the total salary of the entire term of the office sought by the candidate. The filing fees for the 2014 elections for both the Democratic and Republican parties were as follows:[13][14][15][16][17][18]

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

A candidate may file an in-lieu-of-filing-fee petition if he or she is 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 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 receive any other information that might be needed from banks, credit reporting services, etc.[15]

The in-lieu-of-filing-fee petition must be signed by a number of registered voters equal to 1 percent of all registered voters in the election district(s) 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.[15]

Getting nominated at a party convention

A major party candidate 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. A candidate nominated at a convention must be registered with the party he or she seeks to represent at the time of the convention. 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 by September 1, or the next business day if it falls on a weekend or holiday.[11][19]

Minor party candidates

Minor party candidates are selected by conventions. To be nominated at a convention, a candidate must be a registered member of the minor party. These nominating conventions must be held on or before August 1 of the year of the election. No later than 4:30 p.m. on August 15 (or the next business day if August 15 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 appropriate department of elections for all other offices. The nominating resolution must contain the candidates' names and addresses and the offices for which they were nominated. Certificates of nomination for each candidate must be filed by September 1 (or the next business day if September 1 falls on a weekend or holiday).[19]

Unaffiliated candidates

Unaffiliated candidates petition to gain access to the general election ballot. An unaffiliated candidate must collect signatures equal in number to 1 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 in each county in which the petition was circulated. An unaffiliated candidate must also file a sworn declaration stating that he or she 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.[20]

Write-in candidates

Write-in candidates are only permitted to run in general or special elections. To have his or her votes counted, a write-in candidate 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][22]

A candidate cannot run as a write-in if he or she has already been placed on the general election ballot. Additionally, a candidate cannot run as a write-in if he or she withdrew as a candidate in the same election year.[22]

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.

Format requirements

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.

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]

Signature requirements

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. 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.[24][24]

Circulation requirements

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.[24][23] 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 accessed here.

Candidate committees

Before campaign finance reporting can begin, a candidate must form a candidate committee. All contributions and expenditures must be made through the candidate committee, and the candidate committee must keep records of such transactions. The committee must 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.[25]

A candidate seeking an office that pays $1,000 or less per year does not have to form a candidate committee or file campaign finance reports. The candidate does, however, have to sign a statement with the State Election Commissioner affirming that he or she does not intend to receive or spend more than $2,000 for the campaign. If the candidate receives or spends over $2,000, he or she must notify the State Election Commissioner within seven days and file all reports that would have been required during that election year.[26]

Reporting requirements

Reports must be cumulative for the election period and must include a sworn statement, signed by the candidate or the treasurer, attesting that every aspect of the report is true and correct and covers all campaign transactions required to be reported for the reporting period. Reports must 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 given by that contributor during the election cycle must also be included; if the contributor 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. A candidate is jointly responsible with the treasurer for filing reports for the committee. The filing schedule is detailed 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:[27]

  • 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

A candidate committee may not knowingly accept a contribution made in a fictitious name or in the name of another person. A candidate committee must know the true name and address of all contributors.[28]

Contribution limits apply to the entire election cycle (primary and general elections). Individual contribution limits are detailed in the table below.[29]

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

Political party contribution limits are detailed in the table below.[29]

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, 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 for this table, please email us.

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:[30]

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 March 2015 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 March 2015
     Democratic Party 13
     Republican Party 8
Total 21

State House

Party As of March 2015
     Democratic Party 25
     Republican Party 16
Total 41


Recent news

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All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

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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
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Email correspondence 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. Email correspondence with New Castle County Department of Elections, February 9, 2015
  6. E-mail consultation with ballot access expert Richard Winger in January 2014.
  7. Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 30, Section 3001," accessed March 19, 2014
  8. State of Delaware, "Voter Registration Application and Eligibility Affidavit," accessed March 26, 2014
  9. Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 1, Section 101," accessed March 26, 2014
  10. State of Delaware, "Elections Voter Registration Totals," Updated January 1, 2014
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 33, Section 3301," accessed March 19, 2014
  12. Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 31, Subchapter I, Section 3101A," accessed March 19, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 31, Subchapter I, Section 3106," accessed March 19, 2014
  14. Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 31, Subchapter I, Section 3101," accessed March 19, 2014
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 31, Subchapter I, Section 3103," accessed March 19, 2014
  16. Delaware Democratic Party, "List of Filing Fees," December 4, 2013
  17. Republican State Committee of Delaware, "List of Filing Fees," January 17, 2014
  18. Ballotpedia email correspondence with the Delaware Democratic Party.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 33, Section 3303," accessed March 19, 2014
  20. Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 30, Section 3002," accessed March 19, 2014
  21. Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 34, Section 3401," accessed March 19, 2014
  22. 22.0 22.1 Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 34, Section 3402," accessed March 19, 2014
  23. 23.0 23.1 Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 30, Section 3002," accessed March 19, 2014
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 31, Subchapter I, Section 3103," accessed March 19, 2014
  25. Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 80, Subchapter I, Section 8003," accessed March 24, 2014
  26. Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 80, Subchapter I, Section 8005," accessed March 24, 2014
  27. Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 80, Subchapter III, Section 8022," accessed March 24, 2014
  28. Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 80, Subchapter I, Section 8006," accessed March 24, 2014
  29. 29.0 29.1 Delaware Code, "Title 15, Chapter 80, Subchapter II, Section 8010," accessed March 24, 2014
  30. Delaware Constitution, "Article III, Sections 5 and 19," accessed November 5, 2013