Ballot access requirements for political candidates in Texas

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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 Texas. Offices include the following:

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 Texas. 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


See also: Texas elections, 2015

There are no regularly scheduled state executive, state legislative or congressional elections in Texas in 2015.


Political parties

See also: List of political parties in the United States

As of February 2015, the state of Texas officially recognized four political parties. These are listed in the table below.[6]

In order to be recognized by the state, a political party must fulfill certain requirements, which are outlined below in "Process to establish a political party."

Party Website link By-laws/platform link
Republican Party Official party website Party by-laws
Democratic Party Official party website Party by-laws
Libertarian Party Official party website Party platform
Green Party Official party website Party by-laws

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. Texas 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.[7][8]

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.[9]

Process to establish a political party

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Section 181 of the Texas Election Code

Procedures for establishing a minor party

  • A person wishing to start a political party in Texas must form an organization and elect a chair and other necessary officers. The organization must have a name of three words or less.[10]
  • A political party was required to meet organizational requirements before its nominating conventions. A new political party was required to submit its party rules to the secretary of state's office by or on January 2, 2014. These rules were required to prescribe the following:
    1. The parliamentary procedure governing the conduct of party meetings and conventions from the precinct level to the state level
    2. The method of selecting the party's presidential elector candidates
    3. The manner of selecting party officers, convention delegates, convention alternates, and convention officials
    4. The manner of adopting party rules and amendments to the rules.[10]
  • A political party making state nominations is required to establish a state executive committee.[10]
  • All party rules, temporary or permanent, must be posted on the state party's Internet website.[10]
  • A political party making state nominations is also required to establish a state executive committee.[10]

Convention requirements for minor parties

  • Minor parties nominating by convention were required to hold the following conventions:
    • Precinct conventions on March 11, 2014.
    • County conventions on March 15, 2014.
    • District conventions on March 22, 2014.
    • State conventions on April 12, 2014.
  • The chair of each convention will certify the nominees to the county election officer (county or precinct offices) or the secretary of state (district or statewide offices) not later than 20 days after each corresponding convention.[10]
  • To be entitled to place their nominees on the general election ballot, third parties were required first to file a list of precinct convention participants with the secretary of state not later than May 26, 2014.
  • The number of participants needed to be equal to at least 1 percent of the total number of votes received by all candidates for governor in the most recent gubernatorial general election. For 2014, the required number of precinct participants was at least 49,729.[11]
  • The list must include the residence address and voter registration number of each participant.[10]
  • If the number of precinct convention participants is fewer than the number required for the political party to qualify to have the names of its nominees placed on the ballot, the party may qualify by filing a petition containing signatures in a number that, when added to the number of convention participants indicated on the lists, equals at least 1 percent of the total number of votes received by all candidates for governor in the most recent gubernatorial general election and must be filed with the secretary of state's office by the state chair before the deadline for filing the lists of precinct convention participants.[12]
  • A political party is entitled to have the names of its nominees placed on the ballot in each subsequent general election following a general election in which the party had a nominee for a statewide office who received a number of votes equal to at least 5 percent of the total number of votes received by all candidates for that office.[13]

Process to become a candidate

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Title 9 of the Texas Election Code

A candidate in Texas may run with an officially recognized political party, as an independent or as a write-in.

Figure 1: This is the Application for a Place on the General Election Ballot Form.

For major party candidates

In order to run with a major political party, a candidate must file an application with the county or state party chair and pay a filing fee. A candidate also has the option of filing a petition in lieu of the filing fee. Application and petition forms are available through local party officials or the Texas Secretary of State. The regular filing period for the primary election begins on the 30th day before the date of the regular filing deadline, which is 6 p.m. on the second Monday in December of an odd-numbered year.[14]

A chart detailing the signature and filing requirements for each particular office can be accessed here.[15]

For minor party candidates

Minor parties nominate candidates by convention. To be considered for nomination by a convention, a minor party candidate must file an application for nomination no later than 6 p.m. on the second Monday in December of an odd-numbered year, preceding the minor party’s convention. A candidate seeking nomination for a state or district office must file with the state party chair. Candidates for county or precinct offices must file applications with county party chairs.[10][16]

For independent candidates

A candidate may have his or her name placed on the general election ballot as an independent candidate if he or she is not affiliated with a political party.[17][2][18][19][20]

To run as an independent, a candidate must file a Declaration of Intent to Run as an Independent Candidate with the county judge (county or precinct offices) or the Texas Secretary of State (district and state offices) during the same filing period as major and minor party candidates.[2][21]

This paperwork must include signatures of voters who have not participated in the primary election or the runoff primary election of a party that has nominated, at either election, a candidate for the office the petitioning candidate seeks.[2][22]

A chart detailing the signature and filing requirements for each particular office can be accessed here.[2]

For write-in candidates

In order to become a write-in candidate in the general election, the candidate must file a Declaration of Write-in Candidacy with the Texas Secretary of State or the county judge, as appropriate, no later than 5 p.m. of the 78th day before general election day.[23][24]

The declaration must be accompanied by either a filing fee or a nominating petition signed by a certain number of qualified voters. A chart detailing the signature and filing requirements for each particular office can be accessed here.[23][25]

Petition requirements

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.

Format requirements

General petition requirements related to a candidate's position on the ballot are established in Title 9, Chapter 141, Subchapter (C) of the Texas Election Code.

Circulation requirements

A person circulating a petition must:

  1. before permitting a person to sign, point out and read to the person each statement pertaining to the signer that appears on the petition;
  2. witness each signature;
  3. ascertain that each date of signing is correct; and
  4. before the petition is filed, verify each signer's registration status and ascertain that each registration number entered on the petition is correct.[26]

Petitions are also required to include an affidavit of the person who circulated it, stating that the person:

  1. point out and read to the person each statement pertaining to the signer that appears on the petition, before permitting a person to sign;
  2. witnessed each signature;
  3. verified each signer's registration status; and
  4. believes each signature to be genuine and the corresponding information to be correct.[27]

The relevant statutes do not stipulate a date on which petitions may begin to circulate.

Campaign finance

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Title 15 of the Texas Election Code

A candidate for statewide office, the state legislature, State Board of Education, or district attorney must file campaign finance reports with the Texas Ethics Commission. The candidate must file an Appointment of a Campaign Treasurer by a Candidate Form (Form CTA) with the Texas Ethics Commission when he or she becomes a candidate even if he or she does not intend to accept campaign contributions or make campaign expenditures.[28]

After a candidate has filed a form appointing a campaign treasurer, the candidate is responsible for filing periodic reports of contributions and expenditures. Filing reports is the responsibility of the candidate, not the campaign treasurer. A candidate may not accept a campaign contribution or make a campaign expenditure unless he or she has a campaign treasurer appointment on file with the Texas Ethics Commission.[28]

A report must disclose all political contributions accepted and expenditures made during the reporting period.[28]

  • If a contributor contributes $50 or less during the reporting period, contributions from that contributor may be disclosed as part of a lump sum. For other contributions, the candidate must disclose the name and address of the contributor, the date of the contribution, and, for in-kind contributions, the nature and value of the contribution.[28]
  • A candidate must report any campaign expenditure (regardless of whether it is made from political contributions or from personal funds) and any political expenditure (campaign or officeholder) from political contributions (regardless of whether the expenditure is a political expenditure).[28]

Required reports

The candidate must file the following reports with the Texas Ethics Commission electronically unless the filer is entitled to claim the exemption from electronic filing.

  • Report After Appointment of a Campaign Treasurer: The candidate must file a report after filing a campaign treasurer appointment. This report of contributions and expenditures is due no later than 15 days after the campaign treasurer appointment was filed. This report is required even if there is no activity to report.[28]
  • Personal Financial Statement: A candidate must file a financial statement within 40 days after the regular deadline for filing an application for a place on the ballot in the March primary election.
  • Semiannual Reports: Every candidate and every officeholder is required to file reports of contributions and expenditures by January 15 and July 15 of each year. The candidate must file semiannual reports even if there is no activity to report for the period covered.[28]
  • Final Report: If a filer expects to accept no further political contributions and to make no further political expenditures and if the filer expects to take no further action to get elected to a public office, the filer may file a final report. Filing a final report terminates a filer’s campaign treasurer appointment and relieves the filer from any additional filing obligations as a candidate.[28]

Contribution limits

No statutory limits are placed on campaign contributions in Texas.

Election-related agencies

See also: State election agencies

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

  • Texas Secretary of State-Elections Division
Why: This agency provides and processes nominating petitions, declarations of candidacy and other candidate forms. This agency also accepts payment for requisite filing fees.
208 East 10th Street
Rusk Building, Third Floor
Austin, Texas 78701-2407
Toll-free: 1.800.252.VOTE (8683)
Phone: 512-463-5650
Fax: 512-475-2811
Main website:
Complaint website:
  • Texas Ethics Commission
Why: This agency processes campaign finance reports.
201 East 14th St., 10th Floor
Austin, TX 78701
Phone: 512-463-5800

Term limits

State executives

Portal:State Executive Officials
See also: State executives with term limits and States with gubernatorial term limits and Texas state executive official elections, 2014

There are no state executive positions with certain provisions specifying the number of terms allowed.

State legislators

See also: State legislatures with term limits

There are no term limits placed on Texas state legislators.

Congressional partisanship

See also: List of United States Representatives from Texas and List of United States Senators from Texas

Here is the current partisan breakdown of the congressional members from Texas as of 2014:

Congressional Partisan Breakdown from Texas
Party U.S. Senate U.S. House Total
     Democratic Party 0 11 11
     Republican Party 2 25 27
TOTALS as of May 2015 2 36 38

State legislative partisanship

Portal:State legislatures

Here is the current partisan breakdown of members of the state legislature of Texas as of 2014:

State Senate

Party As of May 2015
     Democratic Party 11
     Republican Party 20
Total 31

State House

Party As of May 2015
     Democratic Party 52
     Republican Party 98
Total 150

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the terms "Texas ballot access."

Some of the stories below may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of Google's news search engine.

Ballot access requirements for political candidates in Texas - Google News Feed

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See also

External links

Official state and federal links


Other information


  1. 1.0 1.1 Texas Secretary of State Office, "2014 Minor Party Candidate Information," accessed November 6, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Texas Secretary of State Office, "Independent Candidates," accessed November 6, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Texas Tribune, "Some CD-36 Candidates Saw Stockman Switch Coming," accessed December 12, 2013
  4. Texas Republican Party, "Republican Party of Texas Announces Extended Filing Period for Congressional District 36," accessed December 12, 2013
  5. Texas Election Code, "Section 172.054," accessed December 12, 2013
  6. Texas Secretary of State, "Candidate Information," accessed February 11, 2015
  7. Texas Secretary of State, "2014 Independent Candidates," accessed December 5, 2013
  8. Texas Election Code, "Title 9, Section 142.009," accessed December 5, 2013
  9. E-mail consultation with ballot access expert Richard Winger in January 2014.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 Texas Secretary of State, "Minor Party Candidate Information," accessed December 2, 2013
  11. Texas Election Code, "Sec. 181.005," accessed December 29, 2013
  12. Texas Election Code, "Section 181.006," accessed January 2, 2014
  13. Texas Election Code, "Sec. 181.005," accessed January 2, 2014
  14. Texas Election Code, "Section 172.023," accessed December 23, 2013
  15. Texas Elections Division, "Republican or Democratic Party Nominees," accessed October 31, 2013
  16. Texas Election Code, "Section 181.033," accessed December 23, 2013
  17. Texas Election Code, "Section 1.005(9)," accessed December 23, 2013
  18. Texas Election Code, "Section 142.008," accessed December 23, 2013
  19. Texas Election Code, "Section 162.003," accessed December 23, 2013
  20. Texas Election Code, "Section 162.007," accessed December 23, 2013
  21. Texas Election Code, "Section 142.002(b)(2)," accessed December 23, 2013
  22. Texas Election Code, "Section 142.009," accessed December 23, 2013
  23. 23.0 23.1 Texas Elections Division, "Write-In Candidates," accessed November 1, 2013
  24. Texas Election Code, "Section 146.025," accessed December 23, 2013
  25. Texas Election Code, "Section 146.023-146.0232," accessed December 23, 2013
  26. Texas Election Code, "Title 9, Section 141.064," accessed December 31, 2013
  27. Texas Election Code, "Title 9, Section 141.065," accessed December 31, 2013
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 28.4 28.5 28.6 28.7 Texas Ethics Commission, "Campaign Finance Guide for Candidates and Officeholders," accessed December 11, 2013