Ballot access requirements for political candidates in Maryland
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| Ballot access for major and minor party candidates |
| Redistricting |
|State ballot access information|
- 1 Year-specific dates
- 2 Political parties
- 3 Process to establish a political party
- 4 Process to become a candidate
- 5 Petition requirements
- 6 Campaign finance
- 7 Election-related agencies
- 8 Term limits
- 9 Congressional partisanship
- 10 State legislative partisanship
- 11 See also
- 12 External links
- 13 References
- United States Congress
- State executive offices (e.g., Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General)
- Maryland General Assembly
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 Maryland. 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.
- See also: Maryland elections, 2014
Maryland held a primary election on June 24, 2014. The general election will take place on November 4, 2014. Voters will elect candidates to serve in the following state and federal offices:
- Governor of Maryland
- Lieutenant Governor of Maryland
- Maryland Attorney General
- Maryland Controller
- 8 seats in the United States House of Representatives
- 47 seats in the Maryland State Senate
- 141 seats in the Maryland House of Delegates
- Political party central committees
The 2014 filing deadline for candidates seeking a political party's nomination by running in the state primary was February 25, 2014. Other state-recognized party candidates and independents needed to file a declaration on this date. The final filing deadline for these candidates was August 4, 2014.
|Dates and requirements for candidates in 2014|
|Deadline||Event type||Event description|
|January 15, 2014||Campaign finance||2014 annual report**|
|February 25, 2014||Ballot access||Filing deadline for candidates seeking nomination by a political party via primary. Non principal-party and independent candidates must file declaration of intent.|
|April 15, 2014||Campaign finance||Spring report**|
|May 27, 2014||Campaign finance||Pre-primary report 1**|
|June 13||Campaign finance||Pre-primary report 2**|
|June 24, 2014||Election date||State primary election|
|July 15, 2014||Campaign finance||Report from political party central committee candidates only **|
|August 4, 2014||Ballot access||Filing deadline for non-principal party and independent candidates.|
|August 26, 2014||Campaign finance||Pre-general report 1**|
|October 24, 2014||Campaign finance||Pre-general report 2**|
|November 4, 2014||Election date||General election|
|November 25, 2014||Campaign finance||Post-general report**|
|January 21, 2015||Campaign finance||2015 annual report**|
|**For more information about campaign finance reports, including reporting periods, please see "Campaign finance" below.|
As of November 2013, there are four recognized political parties in Maryland. In order to be recognized by the state, political parties must fulfill certain requirements (detailed below under "Process to establish a political party").
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. Maryland 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.
Process to establish a political party
- The name of the aspirant party
- The name, contact information and signature of the state chairman (i.e., sponsor) of the aspirant party
- The names and addresses of 25 registered voters (including the state chairman) who will constitute the initial governing body of the party
Within a two-year period beginning on the date the first signature is made to the petition and ending on the date the last signature is made to the petition, supporters must collect 10,000 signatures from eligible voters. Petitions for the formation of a new political party may be filed in presidential, gubernatorial, or special election years.
Maryland law separates political parties into two separate categories: principal and non-principal parties. Principal parties include the majority party, which is the party whose candidate for Governor received the largest number of votes of any party candidate at the most recent general election, and the principal minority party, which is the party whose candidate for Governor received the second highest number of votes of any party candidate at the most recent general election. All other parties are considered non-principal political parties. Principal parties are required to nominate candidates for office via primary elections. Non-principal parties may select candidates according to their respective constitutions and bylaws, but cannot participate in primaries.
The state chairman designated in the new party's formation petition must convene an organizational meeting within 90 days after filing the petition. At this meeting, the individuals designated as the initial governing body of the new party must adopt a constitution and bylaws. The constitution and bylaws must provide for the following:
- Selection of a state governing body
- Calling of regular meetings, notification of meetings, and special notice for special meetings
- Establishment of a quorum
- Method of amending the party's constitution or bylaws
- Procedures for filling a vacancy in a nomination for public office
- Procedures for determining which of two or more party members who qualify for nomination in the same contest will be designated on the ballot as nominees of the party
- Adoption of rules governing the political party
Within 30 days of adopting or amending the constitution, bylaws or rules, a party must file a current copy with the State Board of Elections.
Maintaining party status
A newly qualified political party will retain its status as a political party until December 31 of the year of the second statewide general election following the party's initial qualification. Thereafter, the political party can only retain its status by meeting either of the following requirements:
- The party must nominate a candidate for the highest office on the ballot in a statewide general election and the candidate must yield at least one percent of the total vote for that office. By doing so, the party will retain its status until December 31 in the year of the next following general election.
- The party must demonstrate that, as of December 31 each year, at least one percent of the state's registered voters are affiliated with the party. By doing so, the party will retain its status until December 31 of the next year.
In the event that a party loses qualified status, it can only regain qualified status by petitioning again for recognition.
On February 14, 2014, Sen. William Ferguson, IV (D) introduced SB 1032, which proposes to lower the registration threshold parties must meet in order to maintain recognized status. Currently, one method by which parties can maintain recognized status is to demonstrate at the end of each calendar year that at least one percent of the state's registered voters are affiliated with it. As of December 2013, 3,702,608 voters were registered in Maryland, meaning that a party needed 37,027 registered members at that time in order to maintain qualified status. Under the proposed legislation, this number would be set by statute at 10,000 members, which is equal to the number of signatures required to form a new party.
With less than one week remaining in Maryland’s 2013 legislative session, the Maryland State Senate inserted a provision into a campaign finance bill that would have set the filing date for the 2014 elections in January, nearly six months in advance of the June primaries. According to the Washington Post, “several lawmakers confirmed part of the rationale for the Senate’s move was to help incumbents in the legislature. With a January filing date, sitting lawmakers would know much sooner who plans to run against them–and they would know that before having to cast any votes in next year’s 90-day legislative session.” In the House version of the bill, the filing deadline would have been set in April.
The legislation as enacted set the filing deadline in gubernatorial election years as the last Tuesday in February preceding the primary.
Process to become a candidate
|Quick facts about Lieutenant Governors|
See statutes: Election Law, Title 5 of the Annotated Code of Maryland
For principal party candidates
Federal, statewide and state legislative candidates seeking the nomination of a principal political party in a primary election must submit to the State Board of Elections a certificate of candidacy, which notes the office being sought, the year of the election, the name and address of the candidate, and includes a statement verifying that the candidate satisfies the legal requirements for candidacy for the office being sought. Statewide and state legislative candidates must also submit a financial disclosure form to the State Ethics Commission.
Principal party candidates must pay a filing fee. Fees vary according to the office sought and are established by statute:
|Governor, Lieutenant Governor, U.S. Senator, Comptroller of the Treasury, Attorney General||$290|
|Member of the General Assembly||$50|
|Maryland State Central Committee||$10|
All required forms, and the filing fee, must be submitted to the appropriate office by 9:00 p.m. on the last Tuesday in February of the election year. It should be noted that Certificates of Candidacy must be submitted in person (or by certified mail, personal messenger, or other delivery service if the candidate is unable to file in person due to illness, military service, or temporary absence from the state).
For non-principal party candidates
Non-principal party candidates file paperwork in two phases. First, a candidate must submit a declaration of intent to the State Board of Elections. This form must be filed by the last Tuesday in February of the election year. A filing fee does not have to be paid at this time.
By 5:00 p.m. on the first Monday in August of the election year, the candidate must submit to the State Board of Elections a certificate of nomination signed by the officers of the candidate's party (non-principal parties may determine the methods by which they nominate candidates). The candidate must also submit at this time the same financial disclosure form as principal party candidates. Non-principal party candidates must likewise pay the same filing fees as principal party candidates.
For independent candidates
Independent candidates file paperwork in two phases. First, a candidate must submit a declaration of intent to the State Board of Elections. This form must be filed by the last Tuesday in February of the election year.
By 5:00 p.m. on the first Monday in August of the election year, the candidate must submit a certificate of candidacy to the State Board of Elections and a financial disclosure form to the State Ethics Commission (the same as those filed by party candidates). The candidate must also submit to the State Board of Elections a petition signed by at least one percent of registered voters who are eligible to vote for the office being sought. At least 250 registered voters must sign the petition, even if this number is greater than the one percent of registered voters eligible to vote for the office being sought. Examples of required signature totals are presented in the table below.
|Office||1% of registered voters eligible to vote for the office||The greater of 1% of registered voters or 250|
Other statewide executive office
|U.S. House District 1||4,989||4,989|
|State House District 1A||272||272|
|State House District 38B||242||250|
Independent candidates must also pay the same filing fee as party candidates.
For write-in candidates
Write-in candidates for either the primary or general elections who intend to have their votes tallied must file a certificate of candidacy and a financial disclosure form (the same as those required of all other candidates). The deadline for filing these materials with the appropriate office is the earlier of the following:
- Seven days after a total expenditure of at least $51 is made to the promote the candidacy by the candidate's campaign finance entity
- 5:00 p.m. on the Wednesday preceding the day of the election
See statutes: Election Law, Title 6 of the Annotated Code of Maryland
In some cases, political parties and/or candidates may need to obtain signatures via the petition process to gain access to the ballot. This section outlines the laws and regulations pertaining to petitions and circulators in Maryland.
Forms for all petitions are prescribed by and can be obtained from the State Board of Elections. In addition to their signatures, petition signers must include their printed names, addresses and the date signed. Signers must be registered voters of the county specified on the signature page.
Each page of a petition containing signatures must include an affidavit by the circulator verifying that he or she personally witnessed each signature. Circulators must be at least 18 years old when signatures are made to the petition. No residency requirement for circulators is established in the relevant statutes.
See statutes: Election Law, Title 13 of the Annotated Code of Maryland
Campaign finance requirements
Before a candidate files a certificate of candidacy, he or she must establish an authorized candidate campaign committee by filing a Statement of Organization with the State Board of Elections. Candidates must file this form regardless of whether they intend to engage in any campaign finance activity.
Candidates must appoint a chairman and treasurer of the campaign committee. These officers are responsible for filing all campaign finance reports and for all other committee activities. A candidate cannot serve as his or her committee's own treasurer, but may serve as the chairman.
Generally speaking, the treasurer is responsible for the receipt and disbursement of all campaign funds. Further, the treasurer is ultimately responsible for the committee's compliance with campaign finance laws. Although, as noted above, the committee chairman shares responsibility with the treasurer for filing campaign finance reports and for other committee activities, no specific duties are assigned to the office.
The committee must file regular campaign finance reports with the State Board of Elections. All reports must be filed electronically, either via electronic storage medium or via the Internet. Reports must include information about the following:
- Includes contributions, transfers, loans, and in-kind contributions; specific information about contributors, such as name, address, and amount of contribution, must be provided.
- Specific information about payees, such as name, address, and amount disbursed, must be provided.
- Outstanding obligations
- Includes newly-received loans, repaid loans and unpaid loans; specific information about the loan, such as name and address of the creditor and the total amount of the loan, must be provided.
Reporting schedules vary according to the type of committee and the type of election year. Beginning in 2014, committees for Maryland state central committee candidates need only file a campaign finance report on the third Tuesday following the primary election date, in addition to the annual filing in January. For reporting purposes, Maryland separates election years into three types: Baltimore city, presidential, and gubernatorial. All committees are required to file annual reports due the third Wednesday of January. Only presidential and gubernatorial election year reporting schedules are detailed below. 
|Campaign finance report dates for gubernatorial elections|
|Report type||Deadline to file|
|First pre-primary report||4th Tuesday before the primary election|
|Second pre-primary report||2nd Friday before the primary election|
|Pre-general report||2nd Friday before the general election|
|Post-general report||3rd Tuesday after the general election|
|Campaign finance report dates for presidential elections|
|Report type||Deadline to file|
|Pre-primary report||2nd Friday before the primary election|
|Pre-general report||2nd Friday before the general election|
|Post-general report||3rd Tuesday after the general election|
The following are the reporting periods and deadlines for 2014, which is a gubernatorial election year.
|Campaign finance report dates for 2014 elections|
|Report type||Reporting period||Deadline to file|
|2014 annual report||From the day following the ending transaction period from the last report - January 8, 2014||January 15, 2014|
|Spring report**||January 9, 2014 - April 8, 2014||April 15, 2014|
|Pre-primary report 1***||January 9, 2014 - May 20, 2014||May 27, 2014|
|Pre-primary report 2||May 21, 2014 - June 8, 2014||June 13, 2014|
|Pre-general report 1||June 9, 2014 - August 19, 2014||August 26, 2014|
|Central committee candidate report****||January 9, 2014 - July 8, 2014||July 15, 2014|
|Pre-general report 2||August 20, 2014 - October 19, 2014||October 24, 2014|
|Post-general report||October 20, 2014 - November 18, 2014||November 25, 2014|
|2015 annual report||November 19, 2014 - January 14, 2015||January 21, 2015|
|**This report is only required for new committees that were not required to file a 2014 annual report.|
***If the 2014 annual report was not required, the beginning date for the reporting period will be April 9, 2014.
****Central committee candidates are no longer required to file any pre-primary or pre- or post-general reports.
In 2014, during an election cycle an individual cannot make aggregate contributions to any one campaign finance entity (candidate committee, etc.) in excess of $4,000; individuals cannot contribute in excess of $10,000 to all campaign finance entities. Beginning in 2015, these limits will rise to $6,000 and $24,000, respectively.
- See also: State election agencies
Candidates running for office may require some form of interaction with the following agencies:
- Maryland State Board of Elections
- Why: This agency provides and processes candidate filing paperwork for state and federal offices.
- 151 West Street, Suite 200
- Annapolis, MD 21401"
- Phone: 410-269-2840
- Fax: 410-974-2019
- Website: http://www.elections.state.md.us/
- E-mail: email@example.com
- 151 West Street, Suite 200
- Maryland State Ethics Commission
- Why: This agency provides and processes required financial disclosure statements.
- 45 Calvert Street, 3rd Floor
- Annapolis, MD 21401
- Phone: 410.260.7770
- Fax: 410.260.7746
- Website: http://www.maryland.gov/Pages/default.aspx
- E-mail: Jennifer.Allgair@Maryland.gov
- 45 Calvert Street, 3rd Floor
- The Governor is limited to two successive terms.
- The Lieutenant Governor may serve a total of two terms with the current governor. There is no specific limit on how many terms one may serve as lieutenant governor in Maryland.
- Attorney General has no term limits.
- Treasurer is elected by the General Assembly and has no term limits.
- Comptroller is not subject to term limits.
The only state executive who is term-limited for 2014 is:
- See also: State legislatures with term limits
There are no term limits for Maryland state legislators.
Here is the current partisan breakdown of the congressional members from Maryland:
|Congressional Partisan Breakdown from Maryland|
|Party||U.S. Senate||U.S. House||Total|
|TOTALS as of October 2014||2||8||10|
State legislative partisanship
Here is the current partisan breakdown of members of the state legislature of Maryland:
|Party||As of October 2014|
|Party||As of October 2014|
- Maryland elections, 2014
- Maryland signature requirements
- Campaign finance requirements for Maryland ballot measures
- State election agencies
- State executives with term limits
- States with gubernatorial term limits
- State legislatures with term limits
- List of United States Representatives from Maryland
- List of United States Senators from Maryland
- Official Website of the Maryland Secretary of State Office
- Official Website of the Maryland State Board of Elections
- Official Website of the Maryland State Ethics Commission
- Official Website of the Federal Election Commission
- FEC 2014 Primary Election Dates and Candidate Filing Deadlines
- Maryland Elections Code
- Candidate Information Sheet
- Certificate of Candidacy for Write-In Candidate
- Certificate of Withdrawal or Declination
- Declaration of Intent to Seek Nomination by Petition
- Certificate of Nomination or Designation
- Write-in Candidate Information Sheet
- Statement of Organization
- Certificate of Nomination Non-Principal Political Party
- Certificate of Nomination
- Ballot Access News -- News updates and analysis of ballot access issues
- ThirdPartyPolitics.us -- a blog about American third party and independent politics
- RangeVoting.org -- a listing of notably restrictive ballot access requirements
- Center for Competitive Politics, "Election Law Handbook" Winter 2013
- National Voter Outreach -- a political consulting firm that specializes in organizing petition signature drives
- Maryland State Board of Elections, "Candidacy," accessed February 11, 2014
- Maryland State Board of Elections, "Candidacy and Campaign Finance Legislative Update," September 24, 2014
- Maryland State Board of Elections Website, "Candidacy Introduction," accessed November 2013
- Election Law, "Title 1, Section 101," accessed December 5, 2013
- Election Law, "Title 9, Section 210," accessed December 5, 2013
- E-mail consultation with ballot access expert Richard Winger in January 2014.
- Annotated Code of Maryland, "Election Law, Title 4, Subtitle 1, Section 102," accessed February 11, 2014
- Maryland State Board of Elections, "Information Page for a New Political Party Petition," accessed February 11, 2014
- Annotated Code of Maryland, "Election Law, Title 1, Subtitle 1, Section 101," accessed February 11, 2014
- Annotated Code of Maryland, "Election Law, Title 8, Subtitle 2, Section 202," accessed February 11, 2014
- Annotated Code of Maryland, "Election Law, Title 4, Subtitle 2, Section 204," accessed February 11, 2014
- Annotated Code of Maryland, "Election Law, Title 4, Subtitle 1, Section 103," accessed February 11, 2014
- Maryland State Board of Elections, "Voter Registration Activity Report, December 2013," accessed February 18, 2014
- General Assembly of Maryland, "SB 1032 Summary," accessed February 18, 2014
- Ballot Access News, "Maryland Ballot Access Improvement Bill Introduced," February 17, 2014
- The Washington Post, "Heading into final day, Md. House, Senate at odds over when they'll become candidates," April 7, 2013
- General Assembly of Maryland, "Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2013," accessed March 5, 2014
- Annotated Code of Maryland, "Election Law, Title 5, Subtitle 3, Section 304," accessed February 12, 2014
- Maryland State Ethics Commission, "State Employees/Officials," accessed February 12, 2014
- Annotated Code of Maryland, "Election Law, Title 5, Subtitle 4, Section 401," accessed February 12, 2014
- Annotated Code of Maryland, "Election Law, Title 5, Subtitle 3, Section 303," accessed February 12, 2014
- Annotated Code of Maryland, "Election Law, Title 5, Subtitle 7, Section 703.1," accessed February 12, 2014
- Annotated Code of Maryland, "Election Law, Title 5, Subtitle 7, Section 703," accessed February 12, 2014
- Maryland State Board of Elections, "District Voter Counts Report," January 2, 2014
- Maryland State Board of Elections, "Petitions and Candidacy," accessed February 12, 2014
- Annotated Code of Maryland, "Election Law, Title 6, Subtitle 2, Section 203," accessed February 12, 2014
- Annotated Code of Maryland, "Election Law, Title 6, Subtitle 2, Section 204," accessed February 12, 2014
- Annotated Code of Maryland, "Election Law, Title 13, Subtitle 2, Section 202," accessed February 10, 2014
- Maryland State Board of Elections, "Summary Guide: Maryland Candidacy and Campaign Finance Laws," accessed February 12, 2014
- Annotated Code of Maryland, "Election Law, Title 13, Subtitle 2, Section 207," accessed February 12, 2014
- Annotated Code of Maryland, "Election Law, Title 13, Subtitle 2, Section 214," accessed February 12, 2014
- Annotated Code of Maryland, "Election Law, Title 13, Subtitle 2, Section 215," accessed February 12, 2014
- Annotated Code of Maryland, "Election Law, Title 13, Subtitle 2, Section 218," accessed February 12, 2014
- Annotated Code of Maryland, "Election Law, Title 13, Subtitle 3, Section 324," accessed February 12, 2014
- Annotated Code of Maryland, "Election Law, Title 13, Subtitle 3, Section 304," accessed February 12, 2014
- Maryland Election Law Article 13-309(d)
- Annotated Code of Maryland, "Election Law, Title 13, Subtitle 3, Section 309," accessed February 12, 2014
- Maryland State Board of Elections, "Reporting Schedule," accessed February 12, 2014
- Annotated Code of Maryland, "Election Law, Title 13, Subtitle 2, Section 226," accessed February 12, 2014
- Maryland Constitution, "Article 2, Section 1," accessed February 11, 2014