Ballot access requirements for political candidates in Kentucky

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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 Kentucky. 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 Kentucky. 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: Kentucky elections, 2014

Kentucky held a primary election on May 20, 2014. The general election will take place on November 4, 2014. Voters will elect candidates to serve in the following state and federal offices:

The filing deadline for candidates running in the primary election was January 28, 2014. Candidates nominated by political organization convention and by petition had to file their nominating papers by August 12, 2014. Write-in candidates had to file by October 24, 2014. Independent, political group and political organization candidates that are running for Kentucky state executive offices or Kentucky state legislative offices had to file a statement of candidacy by April 1, 2014. Those running for federal office are not required to file this form.[1]

Legend:      Ballot access     Campaign finance     Election date




Dates and requirements for candidates in 2014
Deadline Event type Event description
January 28, 2014 Ballot access Filing deadline for primary election candidates
February 12, 2014 Campaign finance Last day to change exemption filing status for primary election
April 1, 2014 Ballot access Deadline for general election candidates running for state office to file a statement of candidacy
April 18, 2014 Campaign finance 32-Day Pre-primary Report due
May 5, 2014 Campaign finance 15-Day Pre-primary Report due
May 20, 2014 Election date Primary election date
June 19, 2014 Campaign finance 30-Day Post-primary Report due
July 19, 2014 Campaign finance 60-Day Post-primary Report due (if needed)
August 12, 2014 Ballot access Deadline for general election candidates to file nominating papers
August 27, 2014 Campaign finance Last day to change exemption filing status for general election
October 3, 2014 Campaign finance 32-Day Pre-general Report due
October 20, 2014 Campaign finance 15-Day Pre-general Report due
October 24, 2014 Ballot access Filing deadline for write-in candidates
November 4, 2014 Election date General election
December 4, 2014 Campaign finance 30-Day Post-general Report due
January 3, 2015 Campaign finance 60-Day Post-general Report due (if needed)

Political parties

See also: List of political parties in the United States

As of November 2013, Kentucky officially recognizes two political parties.[2] A political party in Kentucky is defined as a political entity whose candidate in the most recent presidential election received at least 20 percent of the vote.[3]

Party Website link By-laws/platform link
Democratic http://kydemocrat.com/ Party by-laws
Republican http://rpk.org/ 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. Kentucky does allow candidates to identify in this way. A total of 25 states allow candidates to use political party designations in non-presidential elections.[4]

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: Chapter 118 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes

In Kentucky, no paperwork is required to establish a political party.[6] Instead, political entities are distinguished by the number of votes their candidates receive in the general election. The state recognizes three types of political entities: political parties, political organizations, and political groups.[3] Each political entity is allowed to get candidates on the ballot in different ways. For specific information on this process, see "Process to become a candidate" below.

Political parties

  • Their candidate in the most recent presidential election received at least 20 percent of the votes cast.[3]
  • They are required to nominate their candidates by primary election.[7]

Political organizations

  • Their candidate missed the necessary 20 percent of votes to be a political party but received at least two percent of the votes cast in the most recent presidential election.[3]
  • They are allowed to nominate their candidates by either primary election or convention. Candidates may also be nominated by petition.[8]

Political groups

  • Their candidate did not receive the two percent of votes required to be considered a political organization.[3]
  • They must nominate their candidates by petition.[9]

For an example of the number of votes required to be considered a political party or political organization, look to the table below.

Votes cast in 2012 presidential election Number of votes needed to be considered a political party Number of votes needed to be considered a political organization
1,797,212[10] 359,443 35,945

Process to become a candidate

Figure 1: This is a Notification and Declaration form for major party candidates running for election in Kentucky.
Quick facts about Lieutenant Governors
  • 45 states have Lt. governors, 43 of them fill the office by election
  • 21 states, including Kentucky, 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 elect Lt. governors separately from the Governor

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Chapter 118 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes

There are three ways a candidate may gain ballot access in Kentucky: by political party primary, by political organization convention or by petition. Which way a candidate may use depends on the candidate's voter registration. Candidates must be registered with a political party if they wish to run in the political party primary, they must be registered with the political organization in whose convention they seek nomination, and they must be registered with the political group they designate affiliation with on their petition. This is also true for independent candidates as they must be registered as independent voters in order to use that designation on their nominating petition.[11][9]

Political party primary candidates

  • Are granted ballot access by winning their party's primary election.[7]
  • Must file a notification and declaration form with the Kentucky Secretary of State. This form must be signed by the candidate and by no less than two registered voters from the same party as the candidate and from the same district in which the candidate is running. The earliest this form can be signed is the first Wednesday after the first Monday in November of the year preceding the election in which the candidate is running.[12] The notification and declaration form must be filed by 4 p.m. on the last Tuesday in January preceding the primary election.[13]
  • Candidates defeated at the primary election are not allowed to run in the general election, with the exception of candidates running in a presidential preference primary.[14]

Political organization convention candidates

  • Are granted ballot access by getting nominated at their political organization's convention.[8] Only registered voters of the political organization can attend and vote at the convention.[15] The Kentucky Statutes do not regulate when a convention must be held; however, it must be held prior to the filing deadline in order to file all necessary paperwork.
  • Candidates running for state executive office or state legislative office must first file a statement of candidacy form with the Kentucky Secretary of State. This form must be filed by 4 p.m. on April 1, or the next business day if it falls on a weekend or holiday. No charge will be assessed for the filing of this form.[16]
  • Must file nomination papers, including nomination certificate from the convention, by the second Tuesday in August preceding the general election in which the candidate is running.[17]

Petition Candidates

  • Political organization, political group and independent candidates may all run by petition method.[8][9]
  • Candidates running for state executive office or state legislative office must first file a statement of candidacy form with the Kentucky Secretary of State. This form must be filed by 4 p.m. on April 1, or the next business day if it falls on a weekend or holiday. No charge will be assessed for the filing of this form.[16]
  • A petition signed by the candidate and by registered voters in the district from which the candidate seeks nomination must be filed with the Kentucky Secretary of State. Candidates may begin gathering signatures after the first Wednesday after the first Monday in November of the year preceding the general election in which the candidate is running.[9] Petitions must be filed with nomination papers by the second Tuesday in August preceding the general election.[17]
  • Petition signature requirements vary depending on office sought. See the table below.[11][9]
Office sought Number of signatures required
Kentucky state executive office 5,000
Member of the United States Congress 400
Member of the Kentucky General Assembly 100

Write-in candidates

  • If a candidate does not wish to run by primary, convention or petition, he or she may gain ballot access as a write-in candidate. Though write-in candidates' names are not printed on the ballot, they may be written in by a voter.[18]
  • In order for a write-in vote to be counted, the write-in candidate must file a declaration of intent with the Kentucky Secretary of State by the fourth Friday in October preceding the general election. A candidate can be a write-in for only one office and will be considered ineligible for write-in status if he or she has already been placed on the ballot by a different method.[18]

All candidates

  • Challenging the "good faith of a candidate” can happen by any registered voter at any time before the election. No specific challenge period is designated in the Kentucky Statutes.[19]
  • Candidates are only allowed to run for one office at a time, as their name cannot be on a ballot more than once.[20]
  • All candidates, no matter how they gain ballot access, are subject to filing fees. These fees are outlined in the table below. The Kentucky Secretary of State accepts personal checks, campaign account checks, cash or money orders for payment of filing fees.[11][21][22]
Office sought Filing fee
Member of the United States Congress $500.00
Governor of Kentucky $500.00
Kentucky Attorney General $500.00
Kentucky Secretary of State $500.00
Kentucky Auditor $500.00
Kentucky Treasurer $500.00
Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture $500.00
Kentucky Senator $200.00
Kentucky Representative $200.00

Petition requirements

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 Kentucky.

In Kentucky, petitions can be used by independent, political organization and political group candidates to gain ballot access. Depending on the office sought, the candidate must collect a certain number of signatures to be considered nominated and able to run in the general election. The earliest date these petitions can be signed is the Wednesday after the first Monday in November in the year preceding the election in which the candidate will be running, and they must be filed with the Kentucky Secretary of State by the second Tuesday in August preceding the general election.[23][24]

Signers of the petition must include the date they sign, their residence address, and their date of birth with their signature or else the signature will not be counted. The signature of a signer can only be counted once. If a signer signs more than one candidate’s petition, the first petition he or she signed will be the only one counted. Candidates are required to sign their own petition.[23]

The state code does not specify circulator requirements. Specifically, there are no residency requirements for circulators.

Campaign finance

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Chapter 121 of the Kentucky Statutes

All state candidates must file campaign finance documents with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.[25] Candidates seeking federal office must file with the Federal Election Commission. Reporting details for federal candidates are not included in this section.

Reporting requirements

Prior to raising or spending any money related to their campaign, candidates must file with the Kentucky Secretary of State. If a candidate wishes to campaign prior to filing, he or she may notify the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance with a letter of intent. If filing a letter of intent, the following must be included: candidate's name, birth date, mailing address, phone number, office the candidate seeks, year in which the election will be held, the treasurer's name, address and phone number, and the name and address of the financial institution designated as the campaign depository. If candidates do file a letter of intent and begin campaigning before the year of an election, they will be required to file quarterly finance statements until the year they will appear on the ballot.[25]

For candidates who wait to campaign until they have filed with the Kentucky Secretary of State, an Appointment of Campaign Treasurer and optional Request for Reporting Exemption form (KREF 001) will have to be filed as well. This form designates a campaign treasurer and indicates the financial institutional the campaign will be using. Any Kentucky voter may become a candidate's treasurer, including the candidate. The form also allows a candidate to request an exemption from reporting. The exemption determines how much money will be raised/spent in the campaign and how many reports must be filed. Candidates can choose an exemption for both the primary and general elections. Candidates not running in the primary election are still responsible for filing the campaign finance statements. Candidates who run in the primary election and are successful must close out their primary reporting before moving on to general election reporting.[25]

There are two exemption options. If a candidate does not choose an exemption, he or she must file all campaign finance reports.[26]

  • Intent to raise/spend $1,000 or less
    • These candidates are exempt from reporting. They do not have to file any pre-election or post-election reports unless campaign funds exceed $1,000.[25][27]
  • Intent to raise/spend $3,000 or less
    • These candidates are required to file only the 30-Day Post-Election Report, unless campaign funds exceed $3,000.[25][28]
    • If a candidate's campaign indicates a surplus of funds or a debt owed on the 30-Day report, a 60-Day Post-Election Supplemental Election Finance Statement must be filed.[28] If the 60-Day supplemental report also shows a surplus of funds or outstanding debt, candidates will be required to file supplemental reports annually until the account no longer shows a surplus or debt. These annual supplemental reports must be filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance no later than 10 days after November 1 of each year the report is needed.[25]
  • Intent to raise/spend $3,000 or more
    • These candidates do not claim any exemptions and thus must file all financial reports.[25]
    • They must file the following reports for each election:[29]
      • 32-Day Pre-election Finance Statement
      • 15-Day Pre-election Finance Statement
      • 30-Day Post-election Finance Statement
      • 60-Day Post-election Supplemental Election Finance Statement (only required if a candidate's campaign indicates a surplus of funds or a debt owed on the 30-Day report)
      • Annual Supplemental Reports (only required if the 60-Day supplemental report also shows a surplus of funds or outstanding debt and must be filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance no later than 10 days after November 1 of each year the campaign shows a surplus or debt of funds)[25]
    • All reports must include:[30]
      • Any contribution made by a permanent committee, along with the committee’s name and business address, date of contribution, amount contributed, and a description of the major business, social, or political interest the committee represents.
      • Details of each contribution received in excess of $100, including the date, name, address, age if less than 18, occupation, employer and spouse of the contributor.
      • Total amount of contributions received.
      • Details of each expenditure authorized, incurred or made in excess of $25, including the name, address and occupation of each person to whom an expenditure was made, along with the amount, date and purpose of each expenditure.

Candidates may file the above reports themselves, with the help of a designated treasurer, or they may form a campaign committee to act on their behalf. To form such a committee, a Political Committee Registration form (KREF 010) and Waiver From Filing Candidate Election Finance Statements form (KREF 011) must be filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.[25]

Contribution limits

In addition to reporting requirements, candidates are also subject to contribution limits. The definition of a contribution encompasses not only money, but also goods, advertising, loans other than bank loans, and services given to a candidate or his or her committee.[25][31] The table below details a number of specific contribution limits.[25][32]

Source of contribution Maximum contribution allowed Additional notes
Individual $1,000 per election
Individual under 18 years of age $100
Permanent committee (PAC) $1,000 per election The total amount a candidate retains for PACs per election cannot be more than 50 percent of the candidate's total contributions, or $10,000, whichever is greater.
Contributing organization $1,000 per election
Corporation Prohibited
Executive committee Unlimited The total amount cannot be more than 50 percent of the candidate's total contributions, or $10,000, whichever is greater.
Caucus campaign committee Unlimited
Candidate to his/her own fund Unlimited

Additional contribution limits include:

  • Candidates cannot accept cash contributions in excess of $50 per contributor.[25][32]
  • Candidates cannot accept anonymous contributions in excess of $50 per contributor, per election. If an anonymous contribution in excess of $50 is received, it must be returned to the donor. If the donor cannot be traced, the contribution must be forfeited to the state.[25][32]
  • Contributions made by one person in the name of another is prohibited.[25][32]
  • Contributions from another candidate's campaign account is prohibited. However, candidates are allowed to purchase tickets to another candidate's fundraiser or other event up to $100 per event.[25][30]

Election-related agencies

See also: State election agencies

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

Office of the Secretary of State, Office of Elections:

Why: This agency oversees candidate filing and election procedures.
700 Capital Ave., Ste. 148
Frankfort, KY 40601
Telephone: (502) 564-3490
Fax: (502) 564-5687
http://www.sos.ky.gov/elections/

Kentucky Registry of Election Finance:

Why: This agency tracks and reviews financial activities of campaigns and investigates violations of campaign laws.
140 Walnut Street
Frankfort, KY 40601-3240
Telephone: (502) 573-2226
Fax: 502.573.5622
http://kref.ky.gov/

Term limits

Kentucky state executives are term limited. These limits were established by Amendment 2, which was passed by voters in 1992. It amended Section 71 and Section 93 of the Kentucky 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 Kentucky are as follows:[33][34]

As there are no state executive offices up for election in Kentucky in 2014, none are affected by term limits.

State legislators

See also: State legislatures with term limits

Kentucky does not place term limits on state legislators.

Congressional partisanship

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

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

Congressional Partisan Breakdown from Kentucky
Party U.S. Senate U.S. House Total
     Democratic Party 0 1 1
     Republican Party 2 5 7
TOTALS as of October 2014 2 6 8

State legislative partisanship

Portal:State legislatures

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

State Senate

Party As of October 2014
     Democratic Party 14
     Republican Party 23
     Independent 1
Total 38

State House

Party As of October 2014
     Democratic Party 54
     Republican Party 46
Total 100


See also

External links

Official state and federal links

Forms

News

Other information

References

  1. Kentucky Secretary of State, "2014 Kentucky Election Calendar," accessed November 12, 2013
  2. Kentucky State Board of Elections Website, "Election Related Links, Political Parties," accessed November 12, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 015," accessed January 15, 2014
  4. Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 215," accessed January 15, 2014
  5. E-mail consultation with ballot access expert Richard Winger in January 2014.
  6. Ballotpedia phone call with Kentucky Secretary of State's Office on September 17, 2013
  7. 7.0 7.1 Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 105," accessed January 15, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 325," accessed January 15, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 315," accessed January 15, 2014
  10. Federal Election Commission, "Federal Elections 2012," accessed January 15, 2014
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Kentucky Secretary of State Website, "FAQs," accessed January 15, 2014
  12. Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 125," accessed January 15, 2014
  13. Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 165," accessed January 14, 2015
  14. Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 345," accessed January 15, 2014
  15. Kentucky State Board of Elections, "Register to Vote," accessed January 23, 2014
  16. 16.0 16.1 Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 367," accessed January 15, 2014
  17. 17.0 17.1 Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 365," accessed January 15, 2014
  18. 18.0 18.1 Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 117, Section 265," accessed January 16, 2014
  19. Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 176," accessed January 23, 2014
  20. Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 405," accessed January 15, 2014
  21. Kentucky Secretary of State Website, "Becoming a Candidate," accessed January 15, 2014
  22. Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 255,"accessed January 15, 2014
  23. 23.0 23.1 Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 315," accessed January 15, 2014
  24. Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 365," accessed January 15, 2014
  25. 25.00 25.01 25.02 25.03 25.04 25.05 25.06 25.07 25.08 25.09 25.10 25.11 25.12 25.13 25.14 Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, "Candidate Guide to Campaign Finance," accessed January 21, 2014
  26. Kentucky Registry of Election Finance Website, "Welcome Packets for Candidates & Treasurers," accessed January 21, 2014
  27. Kentucky Registry of Election Finance Website, "Spending Intent: $1,000 or Less," accessed January 21, 2014
  28. 28.0 28.1 Kentucky Registry of Election Finance Website, "Spending Intent: $3,000 or Less," accessed January 21, 2014
  29. Kentucky Registry of Election Finance Website, "Welcome Packet--More than $3,000," accessed January 21, 2014
  30. 30.0 30.1 Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 121, Section 180," accessed January 21, 2014
  31. Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 121, Section 015," accessed January 21, 2014
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 121, Section 150," accessed January 21, 2014
  33. Kentucky Constitution, "Section 71," accessed November 12, 2013
  34. Kentucky Constitution, "Section 93," accessed November 12, 2013