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Ballot access requirements for political candidates in Virginia

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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 Virginia. 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 Virginia. 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

2015

See also: Virginia elections, 2015

Virginia will conduct a primary election on June 9, 2015. The general election will be held on November 3, 2015. Voters will elect candidates to serve int he following offices:

The table below lists important election-related dates in 2015.[1]

Legend:      Ballot access     Campaign finance     Election date




Dates and requirements for candidates in 2015
Deadline Event type Event description
March 9, 2015 Ballot access Filing period begins for primary candidates
March 26, 2015 Ballot access Filing period ends for primary candidates
April 15, 2015 Campaign finance Campaign finance report due
June 1, 2015 Campaign finance Campaign finance report due
June 9, 2015 Election date Primary election
June 9, 2015 Ballot access Filing deadline for general election candidates
July 15, 2015 Campaign finance Campaign finance report due
September 15, 2015 Campaign finance Campaign finance report due
October 15, 2015 Campaign finance Campaign finance report due
October 26, 2015 Campaign finance Campaign finance report due
November 3, 2015 Election date General election
December 3, 2015 Campaign finance Campaign finance report due
January 19, 2016 Campaign finance Campaign finance report due

2014


Political parties

See also: List of political parties in the United States

As of February 2015, there were two recognized political parties in Virginia.[4]

Party Website link By-laws/platform link
Republican Party Official party website Party by-laws
Democratic Party Official party website 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. Virginia does allow candidates to identify in this way. A total of 25 states allow candidates to use political party designations in non-presidential elections.[5]

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.[6]

Events

In Virginia's 10th congressional district, Virginia Republicans opted for a "firehouse primary" to fill the seat vacated by Rep. Frank Wolf. In a firehouse primary, also called a "party canvass," the partyruns its own election at 10 designated locations throughout the district. Party officials voted for the firehouse primary instead of a convention or state-run primary. If the party had chosen a state-run primary, the primary would have been held on June 10, the regular primary date for all other elections in Virginia. According to Virginia statutes, each political party is allowed to provide for the nomination of its candidates, as well as make its own rules and regulations.[7][8][9]

Process to establish a political party

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Title 24.2, Chapter 5, of the Election Code of Virginia.

A "party" or "political party" means an organization of citizens of Virginia which, at either of the two preceding statewide general elections, received at least 10 percent of the total vote cast for any statewide office filled in that election. The organization shall have a state central committee and an office of elected state chairman which have been continually in existence for the six months preceding the filing of a nominee for any office.[10]

Process to achieve officially recognized status
A political party becomes "officially recognized" when a statewide candidate for office receives at least 10 percent of the votes cast. Before this, however, there are organizational steps a party must take:

  1. A group of petitioners may utilize a selected party name on the ballot. The petitioners must organize a state central committee composed of registered voters from each congressional district in Virginia, a party plan and bylaws, and a duly designated chairman and secretary in existence and holding office for at least six months prior to filing the petition.[11]
  2. The party name shall not be identical with or substantially similar to the name of any qualified, officially recognized political party.[12]
  3. After achieving a state central committee, party plan and bylaws, and a chairman and secretary holding office for at least six months, this non-recognized political party can have their party label appear next to the name of a candidate running for federal or state office.[13]
  4. In order to nominate a candidate for statewide office to achieve 10 percent of the vote for "officially recognized" status, a petition must be signed by 10,000 qualified voters. The petition must also include signatures of at least 200 qualified voters from each congressional district. The petition shall be signed by petitioners on and after January 1 of the year of the election only and contain the residence address of each petitioner.[13]
  5. The petition shall be filed with the state board of elections by noon of the 74th day before the election.
  6. The petition shall state the names of the electors selected by the petitioners, the party name under which they desire the named electors to be listed on the ballot, and the names of the candidates. The persons filing the petition shall file with it a copy of a subscribed and notarized oath by each elector.[14]
  7. After meeting these organizational requirements, to become an officially "recognized political party" for purposes of Section 24.2-101 of the election code, this group of petitioners can gain ballot recognition with a U.S. Senate candidate, candidate for governor, or any other candidate for statewide office by receiving 10 percent of the total vote cast for any statewide office filled in that election.[15]
  8. Once a political party is officially recognized by the state of Virginia, candidates nominated by that party either through a convention or a primary will automatically achieve ballot access for all partisan races extending three election cycles.[13][16]

Party organization and bylaws
Each political party shall have the power to perform the following:

  1. Make its own rules and regulations
  2. Call conventions to proclaim a platform, ratify a nomination, or for any other purpose,
  3. Provide for the nomination of its candidates, including the nomination of its candidates for office in case of any vacancy,
  4. Provide for the nomination and election of its state, county, city, and district committees, and
  5. Perform all other functions inherent in political party organizations.[17]

Nomination of candidates

  • The duly constituted authorities of the state political party, as stated in a party's rules and bylaws, shall have the right to determine the method by which a party nomination for a member of the United States Senate or for any statewide office shall be made.
  • The duly constituted authorities of the political party, as stated in its rules and bylaws, have the right determine the method by which the party nominates for an office within a congressional, General Assembly district, county, city, or town in which an office is to be filled.
    1. For the nomination of candidates for the General Assembly where there is an incumbent, the party shall nominate its candidate where by the method designated by that incumbent, or absent any designation by him, by the method of nomination determined by the party.
    2. For the nomination of candidates for the General Assembly where there is more than one incumbent of that party, there will be a primary unless all the incumbents consent to a different method of nomination.
  • A party that has adopted the method of making a nomination for an office by primary is not allowed to nominate by a convention any candidate to be voted for at that primary.[18]
  • For any office, nominations by political parties by methods other than a primary shall be made and completed in the manner prescribed according to the following schedule:
    1. For a general election in November, by 7:00 p.m. on the second Tuesday in June
    2. For a general election in May, by 7:00 p.m. on the first Tuesday in March
  • In the case of all general elections, a party shall nominate its candidate for any office by a non-primary method only within the 47 days immediately preceding the primary date established for nominating candidates for the office in question.[19]

For informational purposes, the table below provides examples for the total votes cast for statewide office in 2013 and the required amount of votes needed for a political party to become an officially recognized party.[20]

Statewide Office Total votes cast (2013)[21] 10% of total votes cast
Governor 2,240,314 224,032
Lieutenant Governor 2,200,844 220,085
Attorney General 2,212,281 221,229

Process to become a candidate

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Title 24.2, Chapter 5 of the Election Code of Virginia

For partisan candidates

The candidate must file a Statement of Organization form within 10 days of:

  • acceptance of a contribution;
  • expenditure of any funds;
  • the payment of a filing fee for any party nomination method;
  • the filing of a candidate statement of qualification; or
  • the appointment of a campaign treasurer, designation of a campaign committee, or designation of a campaign depository.

A candidate for statewide office must file this form with the Virginia State Board of Elections. A candidate for the General Assembly must file the original statement with the Virginia State Board of Elections and a copy with the local electoral board of the candidate's residence. A candidate for local or constitutional office must file the statement with the local electoral board and, if the statement indicates that the candidate committee will be filing campaign finance reports electronically, a copy with the Virginia State Board of Elections.[22]

The candidate must also complete the Certificate of Candidate Qualification form for the office sought. The form is a written statement (made under oath) indicating that the candidate is qualified to vote for and hold the office for which he is a candidate. The form must be filed before a candidate can purchase a registered voter's list for petition purposes. Each candidate for election to statewide office, the U.S. House of Representatives or the General Assembly must file the statement with the Virginia State Board of Elections. Each candidate for any other office must file the statement with the general registrar of the county or city where he or she resides. [23]

A candidate must also file a written Statement of Economic Interests if running for General Assembly, statewide office, school board in a town or city with population in excess of 3,500, or for constitutional office.[24]

The Certificate of Qualification and Statement of Economic Interests must be filed by the filing deadline for the primary.[25]

The candidate must file also a Declaration of Candidacy form and submit a Petition of Qualified Voters form together on or before the filing deadline for the election. The petition must contain the required number of signatures for the office sought. Candidates seeking participation in a primary election must also pay a primary filing fee. The filing fee is 2 percent of the minimum annual salary for the office sought in effect in the year in which the candidate files.[26]

For more and information and links to the relevant forms, see below.

Signature requirements

Office Signature requirements
Governor, U.S. Senate and other statewide offices 10,000, including 400 qualified voters from each congressional district
U.S. House 1,000
State Senate 250
State House 125

Filing fees

Office Salary Filing fee (2% of salary)
Governor $175,000 $3,500
State Senate $18,000 $360.00
State House $17,640 $352.80
U.S. House $174,000 $3,480.00
U.S. Senate $174,000 $3,480.00
Local offices Varies (check with the specific office for more information) Varies

For independent candidates

An independent candidates for the U.S. House or U.S. Senate must file a Declaration of Candidacy form, Petition of Qualified Voters, and a Certificate of Candidate Qualification form with the Virginia State Board of Elections (more links to the forms, see the bottom of the page). The candidate must submit the required forms by 7:00 p.m. on the second Tuesday in June. A candidate for local office must file a Declaration of Candidacy form, Petition of Qualified Voters, a Statement of Economic Interests form, a Certificate of Candidate Qualification form, and a Statement of Organization form with the local authority in the county or city in which the office is sought. The candidate must submit the required forms by 7:00 p.m. on the second Tuesday in June. A candidate for the General Assembly must file a Declaration of Candidacy form, Petition of Qualified Voters, a Statement of Economic Interests form, a Certificate of Candidate Qualification form, and a Statement of Organization form. The candidate must file the required forms by 7:00 p.m. on the second Tuesday in June.[25][27][28][29][30]

An independent candidate must gather the same required signatures as partisan candidates. There are no filing fees for independent candidates.

For write-in candidates

Write-in votes are permitted in all elections but primaries. A voter may cast a write-in vote for any person other than the candidates for the given office listed on the ballot. Write-in candidates are not required to file any special forms in advance in order to have their votes tallied (except in the case of presidential and vice-presidential candidates, who must file declarations of intent).[31]


Petition requirements

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Section 24.2-506 of the Election Code of Virginia

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 Virginia.

Circulation requirements

Each signature on the petition shall have been witnessed by a person who is himself a legal resident of Virginia and who is not a minor or a felon whose voting rights have not been restored, and whose affidavit to that effect appears on each page of the petition.[32] If an election district includes more than one county or city, the State Board of Elections suggests that the circulator use a separate petition form for qualified voters in each county or city to facilitate the processing of the filing.[33]

Petitions may be circulated beginning January 1.[32] The statutes do not stipulate whether the circulator is allowed to sign the petition.

Campaign finance

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Title 24.2, Chapter 9.3 of the Election Code of Virginia

The candidate must file a Statement of Organization form for the purpose of setting up a candidate committee. This form must be filed within 10 days of accepting contributions, spending any funds, paying a filing fee, or filing the certificate of candidate qualification form. The form must include:[34]

  • the full name and residence address of the candidate
  • the full name and mailing address for the campaign committee
  • the full name, residence address, and daytime phone number of the treasurer
  • the office being sought and district, if any, for the office
  • the recognized political party affiliation of the candidate for statewide office or the General Assembly (in the absence of any political party affiliation, independent shall be used)
  • the name of the financial institution for his campaign depository
  • such other information as shall be required by the State Board of Elections except that the account number for a designated depository account shall not be required

The candidate must designate a campaign depository, which must be maintained in a financial institution within Virginia, in an account properly identifying the name of and the existence of the political candidacy.[35]

Campaign treasurer

A candidate must appoint a single campaign treasurer who must be a registered voter in Virginia. Every treasurer so appointed must accept the appointment, in writing on the statement of organization, prior to the filing thereof.

All contributions and expenditures received or made by any candidate, or received or made on his behalf or in relation to his or her candidacy by any person, except independent expenditures, must be paid over or delivered to the candidate's treasurer or must be reported to the treasurer. The candidate or his or her treasurer must keep detailed and accurate accounts of all contributions turned over to and expenditures made by the candidate or his treasurer on behalf of the candidate or his campaign committee, or reported to any candidate or his treasurer. This account must set forth the date of the contribution or expenditure, its amount or value, the name and address of the person or committee making the contribution or to whom the expenditure was made, and the object or purpose of the contribution or expenditure.[36]

Large pre-election contributions

Any single contribution of $5,000 or more for a statewide office, $1,000 or more for the General Assembly, or $500 or more for any other office, knowingly received or reported by the candidate or his treasurer on behalf of his candidacy on and after the 12th day preceding a primary and before the primary date, on and after the 12th day preceding a general election and before the general election date, or on and after the 11th day preceding any other election in which the individual is a candidate and before the election day, must be reported in writing or electronically to the State Board of Elections.[37]

Contribution limits

No statutory limits are placed on campaign contributions in Virginia.

Campaign finance reports

A candidate for statewide office must file the reports required with the State Board of Elections. A candidate for the General Assembly may file reports required with the State Board of Elections by computer or electronic means. Non-electronic reports for the General Assembly must be filed with the State Board of Elections and with the electoral board of the locality where the candidate resides.

A candidate for any other office who files reports in non-electronic format must file with the electoral board of the locality in which the candidate resides.[38]

Each campaign finance report must include the following:[39]

  • the total number of contributors, each of whom has contributed an aggregate of $100 or less, including cash and in-kind contributions, as of the date of the report, and the total amount of contributions from all such contributors
  • for each contributor who has contributed an aggregate of more than $100, including cash and in-kind contributions, as of the ending date of the report, the campaign committee must itemize each contributor on the report and list the following information:
    • the name of the contributor, listed alphabetically
    • the mailing address of the contributor
    • the amount of the contribution
    • the aggregate amount of contributions from the contributor to date
    • the date of the contribution
    • the occupation of the contributor
    • the name of his employer or principal business
    • the city and state where employed or where his business is located
    • for each such contributor, other than an individual, the principal type of business and place of business of the contributor must be reported (for each such contributor other than an individual, it will be sufficient to list the address of the contributor one time on the report of receipts)
  • for each designated contribution received by the campaign committee from a political committee, out-of-state political committee, or federal political action committee, the candidate's campaign committee must list the name of the person who designated the contribution and provide the information required by this subsection

Campaign finance reports must also include the following information for all expenditures:[39]

  • the name and address of the person paid
  • a brief description of the purpose of the expenditure
  • the name of the person contracting for or arranging the expenditure
  • the amount of the expenditure
  • the date of the expenditure

Independent expenditures

An independent expenditure is an expenditure made by a candidate campaign committee (i) that is not related to the candidate's own campaign and (ii) that is not made to, controlled by, coordinated with, or made with the authorization of a different candidate, his campaign committee, or an agent of that candidate or his campaign committee.[40][27]

An independent expenditure report is required if the campaign committee makes independent expenditures that support, oppose or benefit a different candidate, in excess of $1,000 or more to a candidate for statewide office or in excess of $200 or more to any other candidate in the aggregate during an election cycle.[40][27]

Independent expenditure reports are due within 24 hours after the committee has made the expenditure or when the advertisement supporting or opposing the clearly identified candidate is disseminated, whichever is first.[40][27]

Election-related agencies

Figure 1: This is the Declaration of Candidacy Form for candidates.
See also: State election agencies

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

  • Virginia State Board of Elections
Why: This agency provides and processes nominating petitions, declaration of candidacy forms and campaign finance forms.
Washington Building, First Floor
1100 Bank Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219-3497
Telephone: 804-864-8901
Toll-free: 800-552-9745
Fax: 804.371.0194
Website: http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/cms/Index.html
Email: info@sbe.virginia.gov
  • Clerk of the House of Delegates
Why: This office oversees filing processes for Virginia House of Delegates candidates.
P.O. Box 406
Richmond, Virginia 23218
Telephone: 804-698-1619
Website: http://virginiageneralassembly.gov
Email: GPNardo@house.virginia.gov
  • Clerk of the Virginia Senate
Why: This office oversees filing processes for Virginia State Senate candidates.
P.O. Box 396
Richmond, Virginia 23218
Telephone: 804-698-7400
Website: http://sov.state.va.us
Email: sschaar@senate.virginia.gov

Counties

See also: Counties in Virginia

Sometimes, a candidate running for local office may have some contact with county offices. Individual county contact information can be found below. To provide information for this table, please email us.

Term limits

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 Virginia are as follows:

  • The governor cannot serve consecutive terms, but after a four-year respite can seek re-election.

There were no state executive elections or term limits in Virginia in 2014.

State legislators

See also: State legislatures with term limits

There are no term limits placed on Virginia state legislators.

Congressional partisanship

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

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

Congressional Partisan Breakdown from Virginia
Party U.S. Senate U.S. House Total
     Democratic Party 2 3 5
     Republican Party 0 8 8
TOTALS as of March 2015 2 11 13

State legislative partisanship

Portal:State legislatures

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

State Senate

Party As of March 2015
     Democratic Party 19
     Republican Party 21
Total 40

State House

Party As of March 2015
     Democratic Party 32
     Republican Party 67
     Independent 1
Total 100


Recent news

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All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

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See also

External links

Official state and federal links

Forms

Other information

References

  1. Virginia Department of Elections, "2015 November Election Calendar," accessed February 11, 2015
  2. 2.0 2.1 [http://www.sbe.virginia.gov/Files/BecomingACandidate/CandidateBulletins/May2014_City%20and%20Town%20Offices.pdf Virginia State Board of Elections, "Local Candidates Bulletin," accessed October 9, 2013
  3. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Federal Candidates Bulletin," accessed February 8, 2014
  4. Email correspondence with Virginia Department of Elections, February 12, 2015.
  5. Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-101," accessed February 11, 2014
  6. E-mail consultation with ballot access expert Richard Winger in January 2014.
  7. Washington Times, "Races for open seats in Va. shaping up differently," accessed March 14, 2014
  8. NBC Washington, "GOP Opts for Firehouse Primary in Wolf's District," accessed March 14, 2014
  9. Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-508," accessed February 11, 2014
  10. Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-101," accessed February 11, 2014
  11. Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-543," accessed February 11, 2014
  12. Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-543," accessed February 12, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 E-mail consultation with ballot access expert Richard Winger in February 2014
  14. Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-543," accessed February 12, 2014
  15. Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-613," accessed February 11, 2014
  16. Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-506," accessed February 16, 2014
  17. Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-508," accessed February 11, 2014
  18. Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-509," accessed February 11, 2014
  19. Virginia Code of Election, "Section 24.2-510," accessed February 12, 2014
  20. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Official General Election Results - November 2013," accessed February 11, 2014
  21. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Official General Election Results - November 2013," accessed February 11, 2014
  22. Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-947.1," accessed February 11, 2014
  23. Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-501," accessed February 12, 2014
  24. Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-502," accessed February 10, 2014
  25. 25.0 25.1 Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-503," accessed February 10, 2014
  26. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Candidate Bulletins: November 2014," accessed February 13, 2014
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-505," accessed February 10, 2014
  28. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Candidate Bulletins: Local Office, November 2014," accessed February 13, 2014
  29. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Candidate Bulletin: General Assembly Candidates (2013)," accessed February 13, 2014
  30. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Candidate Bulletin: U.S. House Candidates (2014)," accessed February 13, 2014
  31. Code of Virginia, "Title 24.2, Section 24.2-644," accessed June 11, 2014
  32. 32.0 32.1 Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-506," accessed February 7, 2014
  33. Virginia State Board of Elections, "Petition of Qualified Voters Form," accessed February 12, 2014
  34. Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-947.1," accessed February 10, 2014
  35. Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-947.2," accessed February 10, 2014
  36. Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-947.3," accessed February 10, 2014
  37. Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-947.9," accessed February 11, 2014
  38. Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-947.5," accessed February 11, 2014
  39. 39.0 39.1 Election Code of Virginia, "Section 24.2-947.4," accessed February 11, 2014
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 Virginia State Board of Elections, "2014 Candidate Reporting Deadlines," accessed February 11, 2014