Ballot access requirements for political candidates in Kentucky

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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 Kentucky. 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 Kentucky. 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

2014

See also: Kentucky elections, 2014

Kentucky held a primary election on May 20, 2014. The general election will take place on November 4, 2014. Voters will elect candidates to serve in the following state and federal offices:

The filing deadline for candidates running in the primary election was January 28, 2014. Candidates nominated by political organization convention and by petition had to file their nominating papers by August 12, 2014. Write-in candidates must file by October 24, 2014. Independent, political group and political organization candidates that are running for Kentucky state executive offices or Kentucky state legislative offices had to file a statement of candidacy by April 1, 2014. Those running for federal office are not required to file this form.[1]

Legend:      Ballot Access     Campaign Finance     Election Date




Dates and Requirements for Candidates in 2014
Deadline Event Type Event Description
January 28, 2014 Ballot Access Filing deadline for primary election candidates
February 12, 2014 Campaign Finance Last day to change exemption filing status for primary election
April 1, 2014 Ballot Access Deadline for general election candidates running for state office to file a statement of candidacy
April 18, 2014 Campaign Finance 32-Day Pre-primary Report due
May 5, 2014 Campaign Finance 15-Day Pre-primary Report due
May 20, 2014 Election Date Primary election date
June 19, 2014 Campaign Finance 30-Day Post-primary Report due
July 19, 2014 Campaign Finance 60-Day Post-primary Report due (if needed)
August 12, 2014 Ballot Access Deadline for general election candidates to file nominating papers
August 27, 2014 Campaign Finance Last day to change exemption filing status for general election
October 3, 2014 Campaign Finance 32-Day Pre-general Report due
October 20, 2014 Campaign Finance 15-Day Pre-general Report due
October 24, 2014 Ballot Access Filing deadline for write-in candidates
November 4, 2014 Election Date General election
December 4, 2014 Campaign Finance 30-Day Post-general Report due
January 3, 2015 Campaign Finance 60-Day Post-general Report due (if needed)

Political parties

See also: List of political parties in the United States

As of November 2013, Kentucky officially recognizes two political parties.[2] A political party in Kentucky is defined as a political entity whose candidate in the most recent presidential election received at least 20 percent of the vote.[3]

Party Website link By-laws/Platform link
Democratic http://kydemocrat.com/ Party by-laws
Republican http://rpk.org/ 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. Kentucky[4] does allow candidates to identify in this way. A total of 25 states allow candidates to use political party designations in non-presidential elections.{{{Reference}}}

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.[5]

Process to establish a political party

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Chapter 118 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes

In Kentucky, no paperwork is required to establish a political party. Instead, political entities are distinguished by the number of votes their candidates receive in the general election. The state recognizes three types of political entities: political parties, political organizations, and political groups. Each is allowed to place candidates on the ballot in different ways.[6][3]

For specific information on the candidate process, see "Process to become a candidate" below.

Political parties

A political party is defined as a body whose candidate received at least 20 percent of the votes cast in the most recent presidential election. Political parties must nominate their candidates via primary elections.[3][7]

Political organizations

A political organization is defined as a body whose candidate less between 2 and 20 percent of the votes cast in the most recent presidential election. A political organization may nominate its candidates by either primary election or convention. Candidates may also be nominated by petition.[3][8]

Political groups

A political group is defined as a body that did not meet the qualifications to recognized as a political organization. A political group may only nominate candidates by petition.[3][9]

For examples of the number of votes required to be considered a political party or political organization, see the table below.

Votes cast in 2012 presidential election Number of votes needed to be considered a political party Number of votes needed to be considered a political organization
1,797,212[10] 359,443 35,945

Process to become a candidate

Figure 1: This is a Notification and Declaration form for major party candidates running for election in Kentucky.

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Chapter 118 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes

There are three ways a candidate may gain ballot access in Kentucky: by political party primary, by political organization convention or by petition. A candidate must be registered with a political party if he or she wishes to run in the political party primary. If a candidate seeks nomination by a political organization, either by petition or convention, he or she must be registered with that organization. An independent candidate must be registered as an independent in order to use that designation on his or her nominating petition.[11][9]

Political party primary candidates

A political party candidate is granted ballot access by winning his or her party's primary election. The candidate must file a notification and declaration form with the Kentucky Secretary of State. This form must be signed by the candidate and by no less than two registered voters from the same party as the candidate and from the same district in which the candidate is running. This form cannot be signed earlier than the first Wednesday after the first Monday in November of the year preceding the election in which the candidate is running. The notification and declaration form must be filed by 4 p.m. on the last Tuesday in January preceding the primary election. A candidate defeated at the primary election is not permitted to run in the general election, with the exception of candidates running in a presidential preference primary.[7][12][13][14]

Political organization convention candidates

A political organization candidate is nominated at his or her political organization's convention. Only registered voters of the political organization can attend and vote at the convention. The Kentucky Statutes do not stipulate the time at which a convention must be held; however, it must be held prior to the filing deadline in order to complete all necessary paperwork. A candidate running for state executive office or state legislative office must first file a statement of candidacy form with the Kentucky Secretary of State. This form must be filed by 4 p.m. on April 1 (or the next business day if April 1 falls on a weekend or holiday). No charge is assessed for the filing of this form. The candidate must file nomination papers, including the nomination certificate from the convention, by the second Tuesday in August preceding the general election in which the candidate is running.[8][15][16][17]

Petition candidates

Political organization, political group and independent candidates may all run for office as petition candidates. A candidate running for state executive office or state legislative office must first file a statement of candidacy form with the Kentucky Secretary of State. This form must be filed by 4 p.m. on April 1 (or the next business day if April 1 falls on a weekend or holiday). No charge is assessed for the filing of this form. A petition signed by the candidate and by registered voters in the district from which the candidate seeks nomination must be filed with the Kentucky Secretary of State. Candidates may begin gathering signatures after the first Wednesday after the first Monday in November of the year preceding the general election in which the candidate is running.[9][8][16]

Petitions must be filed by the second Tuesday in August preceding the general election. Signature requirements vary according to the office sought. Examples are provided in the table below.[11][9][17]

Office sought Number of signatures required
Kentucky state executive office 5,000
Member of the United States Congress 400
Member of the Kentucky General Assembly 100

Write-in candidates

If a candidate does not wish to run by primary, convention or petition, he or she may gain ballot access as a write-in candidate. Though write-in candidates' names are not printed on the ballot, they may be written in by a voter. In order for a write-in vote to be counted, the write-in candidate must file a declaration of intent with the Kentucky Secretary of State by the fourth Friday in October preceding the general election. A candidate can be a write-in for only one office and will be considered ineligible for write-in status if he or she has already been placed on the ballot by a different method.[18]

All candidates

Any registered voter may challenge the "good faith of a candidate” at any time before the election. No specific challenge period is designated in the Kentucky Statutes.[19]

A candidate may only run for one office at a time, as his or her name cannot appear on the ballot more than once.[20]

All candidates are subject to filing fees. These fees are outlined in the table below. The Kentucky Secretary of State accepts personal checks, campaign account checks, cash or money orders for payment of filing fees.[11][21][22]

Office sought Filing fee
Member of the United States Congress $500.00
Governor of Kentucky $500.00
Kentucky Attorney General $500.00
Kentucky Secretary of State $500.00
Kentucky Auditor $500.00
Kentucky Treasurer $500.00
Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture $500.00
Kentucky Senator $200.00
Kentucky Representative $200.00

Petition requirements

In some cases, political parties and/or candidates may need to obtain signatures via the petition process to gain ballot access. This section outlines the laws and regulations pertaining to petitions and circulators in Kentucky.

Format requirements

In Kentucky, petitions can be used by independent, political organization and political group candidates to gain ballot access. Depending on the office sought, the candidate must collect a certain number of signatures to be considered nominated and able to run in the general election. The earliest date these petitions can be signed is the Wednesday after the first Monday in November in the year preceding the election in which the candidate will be running. Petitions must be filed with the Kentucky Secretary of State by the second Tuesday in August preceding the general election.[23][24]

Signature requirements

The signer of a petition must include the date he or she signs, his or her residence address, and date of birth with the signature or else the signature will not be counted. The signature of a signer can only be counted once. If a signer signs more than one candidate’s petition, the first petition he or she signed will be the only one counted. Candidates are required to sign their own petitions.[23]

The state code does not specify circulator requirements. Specifically, there are no residency requirements for circulators.

Campaign finance

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Chapter 121 of the Kentucky Statutes

All state candidates must file campaign finance documents with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance. Candidates seeking federal office must file with the Federal Election Commission. Reporting details for federal candidates are not included in this section. [25]

Reporting requirements

Prior to raising or spending any money related to the campaign, a candidate must file with the Kentucky Secretary of State. If a candidate wishes to campaign prior to filing, he or she may notify the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance with a letter of intent. If filing a letter of intent, the following must be included: the candidate's name, birth date, mailing address, phone number, office sought, year in which the election will be held, the treasurer's name, address and phone number, and the name and address of the financial institution designated as the campaign depository. If a candidate does file a letter of intent and begins campaigning before the year of an election, he or she will be required to file quarterly finance statements until the year he or she will appear on the ballot.[25]

For a candidate who waits to campaign until filing with the Kentucky Secretary of State, an Appointment of Campaign Treasurer and optional Request for Reporting Exemption form (KREF 001) will have to be filed, as well. This form designates a campaign treasurer and indicates the financial institution the campaign will be using. Any Kentucky voter may become a candidate's treasurer, including the candidate. The form also allows a candidate to request an exemption from reporting. The exemption determines how much money will be raised and/or spent in the campaign and how many reports must be filed. A candidate can choose an exemption for both the primary and general elections. A candidate not running in the primary election is still responsible for filing the campaign finance statements. A candidate who runs in the primary election and is successful must close out their primary reporting before moving on to general election reporting.[25]

There are two exemption options, detailed below. If a candidate does not choose an exemption, he or she must file all campaign finance reports.[26]

  • Intent to raise/spend $1,000 or less
    • The candidate is exempt from reporting. He or she does not have to file any pre-election or post-election reports unless campaign funds exceed $1,000.[25][27]
  • Intent to raise/spend $3,000 or less
    • The candidate is required to file only the 30-Day Post-Election Report, unless campaign funds exceed $3,000.[25][28]
    • If a candidate's campaign indicates a surplus of funds or a debt owed on the 30-Day report, a 60-Day Post-Election Supplemental Election Finance Statement must be filed. If the 60-Day supplemental report also shows a surplus of funds or outstanding debt, the candidate will be required to file supplemental reports annually until the account no longer shows a surplus or debt. These annual supplemental reports must be filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance no later than 10 days after November 1 of each year the report is needed.[25][28]

If the candidate intends to raise and/or spend in excess of $3,000, he or she cannot claim any exemptions and must file all financial reports.[25]

The candidate must file the following reports for each election:[29]

  1. 32-Day Pre-election Finance Statement
  2. 15-Day Pre-election Finance Statement
  3. 30-Day Post-election Finance Statement
  4. 60-Day Post-election Supplemental Election Finance Statement (only required if a candidate's campaign indicates a surplus of funds or a debt owed on the 30-Day report)
  5. Annual Supplemental Reports (only required if the 60-Day Post-election Supplemental Election Finance Statement also shows a surplus of funds or outstanding debt; must be filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance no later than 10 days after November 1 of each year the campaign shows a surplus or debt of funds)[25]

All reports must note the following:[30]

  • any contribution made by a permanent committee, along with the committee’s name and business address, date of contribution, amount contributed, and a description of the major business, social, or political interest the committee represents
  • details of each contribution received in excess of $100, including the date, name, address, age if less than 18, occupation, employer and spouse of the contributor
  • total amount of contributions received.
  • details of each expenditure authorized, incurred or made in excess of $25, including the name, address and occupation of each person to whom an expenditure was made, along with the amount, date and purpose of each expenditure.

The candidate may file the above reports himself or herself, with the help of a designated treasurer, or the candidate may form a campaign committee to act on his or her behalf. To form such a committee, a Political Committee Registration form (KREF 010) and Waiver From Filing Candidate Election Finance Statements form (KREF 011) must be filed with the Kentucky Registry of Election Finance.[25]

Contribution limits

In addition to reporting requirements, candidates are also subject to contribution limits. The definition of a contribution encompasses not only money, but also goods, advertising, loans other than bank loans, and services given to a candidate or his or her committee.[25][31]

The table below details specific contribution limits.[25][32]

Source of contribution Maximum contribution allowed Additional notes
Individual $1,000 per election
Individual under 18 years of age $100
Permanent committee (PAC) $1,000 per election The total amount a candidate retains for PACs per election cannot be more than 50 percent of the candidate's total contributions, or $10,000, whichever is greater.
Contributing organization $1,000 per election
Corporation Prohibited
Executive committee Unlimited The total amount cannot be more than 50 percent of the candidate's total contributions, or $10,000, whichever is greater.
Caucus campaign committee Unlimited
Candidate to his/her own fund Unlimited

Additional contribution limits include the following:

  • Candidates cannot accept cash contributions in excess of $50 per contributor.[25][32]
  • Candidates cannot accept anonymous contributions in excess of $50 per contributor, per election. If an anonymous contribution in excess of $50 is received, it must be returned to the donor. If the donor cannot be traced, the contribution must be forfeited to the state.[25][32]
  • Contributions made by one person in the name of another are prohibited.[25][32]
  • Contributions from another candidate's campaign account are prohibited. However, candidates are allowed to purchase tickets to another candidate's fundraiser or other event up to $100 per event.[25][30]

Election-related agencies

See also: State election agencies

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

Office of the Secretary of State, Office of Elections:

Why: Oversees candidate filing and election procedures.
700 Capital Ave., Ste. 148
Frankfort, KY 40601
Telephone: (502) 564-3490
Fax: (502) 564-5687
http://www.sos.ky.gov/elections/

Kentucky Registry of Election Finance:

Why: Tracks and reviews financial activities of campaigns and investigates violations to campaign laws.
140 Walnut Street
Frankfort, KY 40601-3240
Telephone: (502) 573-2226
Fax: 502.573.5622
http://kref.ky.gov/

Term limits

Kentucky state executives are term limited. These limits were established by Amendment 2, which was passed by voters in 1992. It amended Section 71 and Section 93 of the Kentucky Constitution.

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 Kentucky are as follows:[33][34]

As there are no state executive offices up for election in Kentucky in 2014, none are affected by term limits.

State legislators

See also: State legislatures with term limits

Kentucky does not place term limits on state legislators.

Congressional partisanship

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

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

Congressional Partisan Breakdown from Kentucky
Party U.S. Senate U.S. House Total
     Democratic Party 0 1 1
     Republican Party 2 5 7
TOTALS as of April 2015 2 6 8

State legislative partisanship

Portal:State legislatures

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

State Senate

Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 11
     Republican Party 26
     Vacancy 1
Total 38

State House

Party As of April 2015
     Democratic Party 54
     Republican Party 46
Total 100

See also

External links

Official state and federal links

Forms

News

Other information

References

  1. Kentucky Secretary of State, "2014 Kentucky Election Calendar," accessed November 12, 2013
  2. Kentucky State Board of Elections Website, "Election Related Links, Political Parties," accessed November 12, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 015," accessed January 15, 2014
  4. Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 215," accessed January 15, 2014
  5. E-mail consultation with ballot access expert Richard Winger in January 2014.
  6. Ballotpedia phone call with Kentucky Secretary of State's Office on September 17, 2013
  7. 7.0 7.1 Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 105," accessed January 15, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 325," accessed January 15, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 315," accessed January 15, 2014
  10. Federal Election Commission, "Federal Elections 2012," accessed January 15, 2014
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Kentucky Secretary of State Website, "FAQs," accessed January 15, 2014
  12. Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 125," accessed January 15, 2014
  13. Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 165," accessed January 14, 2015
  14. Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 345," accessed January 15, 2014
  15. Kentucky State Board of Elections, "Register to Vote," accessed January 23, 2014
  16. 16.0 16.1 Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 367," accessed January 15, 2014
  17. 17.0 17.1 Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 365," accessed January 15, 2014
  18. Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 117, Section 265," accessed January 16, 2014
  19. Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 176," accessed January 23, 2014
  20. Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 405," accessed January 15, 2014
  21. Kentucky Secretary of State Website, "Becoming a Candidate," accessed January 15, 2014
  22. Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 255,"accessed January 15, 2014
  23. 23.0 23.1 Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 315," accessed January 15, 2014
  24. Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 118, Section 365," accessed January 15, 2014
  25. 25.00 25.01 25.02 25.03 25.04 25.05 25.06 25.07 25.08 25.09 25.10 25.11 25.12 25.13 25.14 Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, "Candidate Guide to Campaign Finance," accessed January 21, 2014
  26. Kentucky Registry of Election Finance Website, "Welcome Packets for Candidates & Treasurers," accessed January 21, 2014
  27. Kentucky Registry of Election Finance Website, "Spending Intent: $1,000 or Less," accessed January 21, 2014
  28. 28.0 28.1 Kentucky Registry of Election Finance Website, "Spending Intent: $3,000 or Less," accessed January 21, 2014
  29. Kentucky Registry of Election Finance Website, "Welcome Packet--More than $3,000," accessed January 21, 2014
  30. 30.0 30.1 Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 121, Section 180," accessed January 21, 2014
  31. Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 121, Section 015," accessed January 21, 2014
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 Kentucky Statutes, "Chapter 121, Section 150," accessed January 21, 2014
  33. Kentucky Constitution, "Section 71," accessed November 12, 2013
  34. Kentucky Constitution, "Section 93," accessed November 12, 2013