Ballot access requirements for political candidates in Texas
Energy policy • Fracking policy • Public education • School choice • Public pensions • State budget • Ballot measures • Ballot access
| 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, 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. This page reflects research completed in April 2014.
Note: If you have any questions or comments about this page, email us.
- See also: Texas elections, 2014
Texas had a primary for federal, statewide, and state legislative offices on March 4, 2014. Texas will also have a primary runoff on May 27, 2014, and a general election for state and federal offices on November 4, 2014. Voters will elect candidates to serve in the following state and federal offices:
- Governor of Texas
- Lieutenant Governor of Texas
- Texas Attorney General
- Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
- Texas Land Commissioner
- Texas Agriculture Commissioner
- Texas Railroad Commission
- 36 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives
- 1 seat in the U.S. Senate
- 15 seats in the Texas State Senate
- 150 seats in the Texas House of Representatives
The 2014 filing deadline for partisan candidates participating in the primary was December 9, 2013. The deadline to qualify as a political party in time for the 2014 election was January 2, 2014. For minor party candidates to be nominated by their party convention, the filing deadline was December 9, 2013. The deadline for independent candidates to file for the general election ballot is June 26, 2014.
|Dates and Requirements for Candidates in 2014|
|Deadline||Event type||Event description|
|December 9, 2013||Ballot access||Deadline for independent candidates to file a notice of intent to run|
Deadline for candidates to file application for place on ballot with county or state party chair (application must include filing fee or a nominating petition)
|January 2, 2014||Ballot access||Deadline for a new political party to register itself with the Secretary of State's office|
|January 15, 2014||Campaign finance||January semiannual campaign finance report due for all candidates and officeholders|
|January 21, 2014||Campaign finance||Deadline for all candidates to file a Personal Financial Statement with the Texas Ethics Commission|
|February 3, 2014||Campaign finance||First pre-primary campaign finance report due for all candidates with a primary opponent on the ballot|
|February 24, 2014||Campaign finance||Second pre-primary campaign finance report due for all candidates with a primary opponent on the ballot|
|March 4, 2014||Election date||Primary election date|
|March 11, 2014||Ballot access||Deadline for a new political party to hold precinct conventions|
|March 15, 2014||Ballot access||Deadline for a new political party to hold county conventions|
|March 22, 2014||Ballot access||Deadline for a new political party to hold district conventions|
|April 12, 2014||Ballot access||Deadline for a new political party to hold a state convention|
|May 19, 2014||Campaign finance||Pre-runoff campaign finance report due for all candidates in the primary runoff|
|May 26, 2014||Ballot access||Deadline for new political parties to file with the Secretary of State to have their nominees on the general election ballot.|
|May 27, 2014||Election date||Primary runoff election|
|June 26, 2014||Ballot access||Filing deadline for independent candidates to appear on the general election ballot|
|July 15, 2014||Campaign finance||July semiannual campaign finance report due for all candidates and officeholders|
|August 18, 2014||Ballot access||Filing deadline for write-in candidates to participate in the general election|
|October 6, 2014||Campaign finance||30-day pre-general election campaign finance report due for all candidates and officeholders|
|October 27, 2014||Campaign finance||8-day pre-general election campaign finance report due for all candidates with an opponent in the general election|
|November 4, 2014||Election date||General election|
|January 15, 2015||Campaign finance||Final campaign finance report due|
36th Congressional District
In December 2013, Rep. Steve Stockman withdrew his candidacy for re-election in Texas’ 36th Congressional District in order to run for the U.S. Senate. His withdrawal caused the Texas Republican Party to extend the filing deadline for the 36th District seat to December 16, 2013. In the event of a candidate's withdrawal from a place on a general primary election ballot, the filing deadline is extended to the fifth day after the date of the regular filing deadline. According to Texas state law, candidates that have previously filed for a different race are prohibited from running for the 36th Congressional District without first withdrawing from their races before the filing deadline, which was December 9, 2013.
As of December 2013, the state of Texas officially recognizes four political parties. 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 will be required to meet organizational requirements before its nominating conventions. A new political party must submit its party rules to the Secretary of State's office by or on January 2, 2014. These rules must 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.
- 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 must 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 must first file a list of precinct convention participants with the Secretary of State not later than May 26, 2014.
- The number of participants must equal to at least 1% 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 is 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% 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% of the total number of votes received by all candidates for that office.
Process to become a candidate
|Quick facts about Lieutenant Governors|
See statutes: Title 9 of the Texas Election Code
A candidate in Texas may run as a candidate with an officially recognized political party, as an independent or as a write-in. The process to qualify varies depending on how a candidate runs.
- For major party candidates (Republican and Democratic)
- In order to become a candidate with a major political party, one 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 the local party officials or the office of the Secretary of State.
- The regular filing period for the primary election begins on the 30th day before the date of the regular filing deadline, in which a candidate must file no later than 6 p.m. on the second Monday in December of an odd-numbered year.
- A chart detailing the filing fees and signature requirements can be found here.
- For candidates seeking the Republican nomination in Texas' 36th Congressional District, the filing deadline had been extended to December 16, 2013.
- For minor party candidates
- To be considered for nomination by a convention, candidates 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.
- Candidates 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 the county party chair.
- For independent candidates
- You may have your name placed on the general election ballot as an independent candidate if you are not affiliated with a political party. If you vote in a party’s primary elections or participate in a party’s conventions, you thereby affiliate with the party.
- To run as an independent, candidates must file a Declaration of Intent to Run as an Independent Candidate during the same filing period as major and minor party candidates, with the county judge (county or precinct offices) or the Secretary of State (district and state offices).
- The signers must be registered 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 you seek.
- A chart detailing the signature requirements and where to file for each particular office can be found here.
- For write-in candidates
- In order to become a write-in candidate in the general election, candidates must file a Declaration of Write-in Candidacy with the Secretary of State or your county judge, as appropriate, and not later than 5 p.m. of the 78th day before general election day.
- A chart detailing the signature requirements and where to file for each particular office can be found here.
- The declaration must be accompanied by either a filing fee or a nominating petition signed by a certain number of qualified voters.
- For the party office of county or precinct chair, you must file a Declaration of Write-in Candidacy with the county party chair no earlier than November 16, 2013 and no later than 6:00 p.m. on December 16, 2013 (the deadline was extended under Tex. Elec. Code Ann. § 1.006).
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. In particular, 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.
Petitions are also required to include an affidavit of the person who circulated it, stating that the person:
- (1) pointed out and read to each signer, before the petition was signed, each statement pertaining to the signer that appears on the petition;
- (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.
The relevant statutes do not stipulate a date on which petitions may begin to circulate.
See statutes: Title 15 of the Texas Election Code
- Candidates for statewide office, the State Legislature, State Board of Education, and District attorney must file campaign finance reports with the Texas Ethics Commission.
- Candidates running for public office in Texas must file an Appointment of a Campaign Treasurer by a Candidate (Form CTA) with the Texas Ethics Commission when they become a candidate even if they do 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 person may not accept a campaign contribution or make a campaign expenditure unless the person has a campaign treasurer appointment on file with the Texas Ethics Commission.
- A report must disclose all political contributions accepted 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, a filer 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 filer 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).
- Candidates and officeholders who file with the Texas Ethics Commission must file reports electronically unless the filer is entitled to claim the exemption from electronic filing.
- Report After Appointment of a Campaign Treasurer: Candidates 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 for office as an elected officer 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. Candidates and officeholders 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.
Campaign filing schedule
|Deadline||Report||Report end date||Who files|
|January 15, 2014||January semiannual||December 31, 2013||All candidates and officeholders|
|January 21, 2014||Personal Financial Statement||December 31, 2014||All candidates|
|February 3, 2014||Pre-primary report||January 23, 2014||Candidates with primary opponent on ballot|
|February 24, 2014||Second pre-primary report||February 22, 2014||Candidates with primary opponent on ballot|
|May 19, 2014||Pre-runoff report||May 17, 2014||Candidates in primary runoff|
|July 15, 2014||July semiannual||June 30, 2014||All candidates and officeholders|
|October 6, 2014||30-day pre-general report||September 25, 2014||All candidates and officeholders|
|October 27, 2014||8-day pre-general report||October 25, 2014||Candidates with an opponent in general election|
|January 15, 2015||January semiannual||December 31, 2014||All candidates and officeholders|
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 Phone: 1.800.252.VOTE (8683)
- Phone: 512.463.5650
- Fax: 512.475.2811
- E-mail: 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:
|Congressional Partisan Breakdown from Texas|
|Party||U.S. Senate||U.S. House||Total|
|TOTALS as of October 2014||2||36||38|
State legislative partisanship
Here is the current partisan breakdown of members of the state legislature of Texas:
|Party||As of October 2014|
|Party||As of October 2014|
- 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 November 8, 2013
- 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, "Section 1.006," 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
- Texas Ethics Commission, "2014 Filing Schedule for Candidates and Officeholders," accessed December 11, 2013