Ballot access requirements for political candidates in Texas
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|Ballot access policy in the United States|
| Ballot access for major and minor party candidates |
| List of political parties in the United States |
|Ballot access information by state|
- 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 Recent news
- 12 See also
- 13 External links
- 14 References
- United States Congress
- State executive offices (e.g., governor, secretary of state, treasurer, etc.)
- Texas State Legislature
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.
- See also: Texas elections, 2015
There are no regularly scheduled state executive, state legislative or congressional elections in Texas in 2015.
To view historical dates for 2014, click [show] to expand the section.
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.
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
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.
- 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:
- The parliamentary procedure governing the conduct of party meetings and conventions from the precinct level to the state level
- The method of selecting the party's presidential elector candidates
- The manner of selecting party officers, convention delegates, convention alternates, and convention officials
- The manner of adopting party rules and amendments to the rules.
- A political party making state nominations is required to establish a state executive committee.
- All party rules, temporary or permanent, must be posted on the state party's Internet website.
- A political party making state nominations is also required to establish a state executive committee.
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.
- 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.
- The list must include the residence address and voter registration number of each participant.
- 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.
- 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.
Process to become a candidate
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.
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.
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.
For independent candidates
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A person circulating a petition must:
- before permitting a person to sign, point out and read to the person each statement pertaining to the signer that appears on the petition;
- witness each signature;
- ascertain that each date of signing is correct; and
- before the petition is filed, verify each signer's registration status and ascertain that each registration number entered on the petition is correct.
Petitions are also required to include an affidavit of the person who circulated it, stating that the person:
- point out and read to the person each statement pertaining to the signer that appears on the petition, before permitting a person to sign;
- witnessed each signature;
- verified each signer's registration status; and
- believes each signature to be genuine and the corresponding information to be correct.
The relevant statutes do not stipulate a date on which petitions may begin to circulate.
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.
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.
A report must disclose all political contributions accepted and expenditures made during the reporting period.
- 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.
- 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).
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.
- 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.
- 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.
No statutory limits are placed on campaign contributions in Texas.
- 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
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Main website: http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/index.shtml
- Complaint website: http://www.sos.ga.gov/cgi-bin/emailelectionscomplaint.asp
- 208 East 10th Street
- Texas Ethics Commission
- Why: This agency processes campaign finance reports.
- 201 East 14th St., 10th Floor
- Austin, TX 78701
- Phone: 512-463-5800
- Website: http://www.ethics.state.tx.us/tec
- 201 East 14th St., 10th Floor
There are no state executive positions with certain provisions specifying the number of terms allowed.
- See also: State legislatures with term limits
There are no term limits placed on Texas state legislators.
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|
|TOTALS as of April 2015||2||36||38|
State legislative partisanship
Here is the current partisan breakdown of members of the state legislature of Texas as of 2014:
|Party||As of April 2015|
|Party||As of April 2015|
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.
- Texas elections, 2014
- Campaign finance requirements for Texas ballot measures
- Texas signature requirements
- State election agencies
- Counties in Texas
- State executives with term limits
- States with gubernatorial term limits
- Texas state executive official elections, 2014’
- State legislatures with term limits
- List of United States Representatives from Texas
- List of United States Senators from Texas
- Ballot Access News -- News updates and analysis of ballot access issues
- Official Website of the Texas Secretary of State Office: Elections Division
- Official Website of the Texas Ethics Commission
- Texas Election Code
- Official Website of the Federal Election Commission
- FEC 2014 Primary Election Dates and Candidate Filing Deadlines
- Application for a Place on a Party General Primary Ballot
- Application for a Place on a General Election Ballot
- Declaration of Intent for Independent Candidates
- Declaration of Write-In Candidacy
- Independent Candidate's Petition for a Place on the Ballot
- Appointment of a Campaign Treasurer by a Candidate Form
- 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
- Texas Secretary of State Office, "2014 Minor Party Candidate Information," accessed November 6, 2013
- Texas Secretary of State Office, "Independent Candidates," accessed November 6, 2013
- The Texas Tribune, "Some CD-36 Candidates Saw Stockman Switch Coming," accessed December 12, 2013
- Texas Republican Party, "Republican Party of Texas Announces Extended Filing Period for Congressional District 36," accessed December 12, 2013
- Texas Election Code, "Section 172.054," accessed December 12, 2013
- Texas Secretary of State, "Candidate Information," accessed February 11, 2015
- Texas Secretary of State, "2014 Independent Candidates," accessed December 5, 2013
- Texas Election Code, "Title 9, Section 142.009," accessed December 5, 2013
- E-mail consultation with ballot access expert Richard Winger in January 2014.
- Texas Secretary of State, "Minor Party Candidate Information," accessed December 2, 2013
- Texas Election Code, "Sec. 181.005," accessed December 29, 2013
- Texas Election Code, "Section 181.006," accessed January 2, 2014
- Texas Election Code, "Sec. 181.005," accessed January 2, 2014
- Texas Election Code, "Section 172.023," accessed December 23, 2013
- Texas Elections Division, "Republican or Democratic Party Nominees," accessed October 31, 2013
- Texas Election Code, "Section 181.033," accessed December 23, 2013
- Texas Election Code, "Section 1.005(9)," accessed December 23, 2013
- Texas Election Code, "Section 142.008," accessed December 23, 2013
- Texas Election Code, "Section 162.003," accessed December 23, 2013
- Texas Election Code, "Section 162.007," accessed December 23, 2013
- Texas Election Code, "Section 142.002(b)(2)," accessed December 23, 2013
- Texas Election Code, "Section 142.009," accessed December 23, 2013
- Texas Elections Division, "Write-In Candidates," accessed November 1, 2013
- Texas Election Code, "Section 146.025," accessed December 23, 2013
- Texas Election Code, "Section 146.023-146.0232," accessed December 23, 2013
- Texas Election Code, "Title 9, Section 141.064," accessed December 31, 2013
- Texas Election Code, "Title 9, Section 141.065," accessed December 31, 2013
- Texas Ethics Commission, "Campaign Finance Guide for Candidates and Officeholders," accessed December 11, 2013