Ballot access requirements for political candidates in Washington, D.C.

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This page contains extensive information about ballot access requirements for candidates running for elected office in Washington, D.C.. 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 Washington, D.C.. 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.

Year-specific dates

2014

Washington, D.C. will have a primary election on April 1, 2014 and a general election on November 4, 2014. Voters will elect candidates to serve in the following state and federal offices:[1]

The filing deadline for political party candidates in the 2014 elections was January 2, 2014. The filing deadline for minor party and independent candidates is August 6, 2014. Write-in candidates are allowed in both the primary and general elections. If a write-in is running in the primary election, the filing deadline is March 18, 2014, and if a write-in is running in the general election, the filing deadline is October 21, 2014. The suggested deadline to file paperwork to create a new political party in time for the 2014 general election is May 1, 2014.[2] These deadlines, in addition to campaign finance reporting deadlines, are included in the table below.

Legend:      Ballot Access     Campaign Finance     Election Date




Dates and Requirements for Candidates in 2014
Deadline Event Type Event Description
January 2, 2014 Ballot Access Political party candidate filing deadline
January 31, 2014 Campaign Finance Receipts and Expenditures (R&E) Report due
March 10, 2014 Campaign Finance Receipts and Expenditures (R&E) Report due
March 17, 2014 Campaign Finance First time the Report of Exemption for a Candidate Spending Less than Five Hundred Dollars must be filed for the primary election
March 18, 2014 Ballot Access Filing deadline for write-in candidates in the primary election
March 24, 2014 Campaign Finance Receipts and Expenditures (R&E) Report due for candidates running in the primary election
April 1, 2014 Election Date Primary election date
May 1, 2014 Ballot Access Suggested deadline to file paperwork to create a new political party
May 1, 2014 Campaign Finance Second time the Report of Exemption for a Candidate Spending Less than Five Hundred Dollars must be filed for the primary election
June 10, 2014 Campaign Finance Receipts and Expenditures (R&E) Report due
August 6, 2014 Ballot Access Filing deadline for Independent and minor party candidates
August 10, 2014 Campaign Finance Receipts and Expenditures (R&E) Report due
October 10, 2014 Campaign Finance Receipts and Expenditures (R&E) Report due
October 20, 2014 Campaign Finance First time the Report of Exemption for a Candidate Spending Less than Five Hundred Dollars must be filed for the general election
October 21, 2014 Ballot Access Filing deadline for write-in candidates in the general election
October 27, 2014 Campaign Finance Receipts and Expenditures (R&E) Report due for candidates running in the general election
November 4, 2014 Election Date General Election
December 4, 2014 Campaign Finance Second time the Report of Exemption for a Candidate Spending Less than Five Hundred Dollars must be filed for the general election
December 10, 2014 Campaign Finance Receipts and Expenditures (R&E) Report due

Political parties

See also: List of political parties in the United States

As of November 2013, Washington, D.C. officially recognizes four political parties.[3]

Party Website link By-laws/Platform link
D.C. Statehood Green Party http://www.dcstatehoodgreen.org/home Party platform
Democratic Party http://www.dcdemocraticparty.org/ Party by-laws
Libertarian Party http://www.dc.lp.org/
Republican Party http://dcgop.com/ Party by-laws

In Washington, D.C., candidates may designate on the ballot whether they are affiliated with an officially recognized political party or with a minor party that is trying to gain official recognition. If a candidate is not affiliated with either, he or she must use an "Independent" distinction on the ballot. Only candidates of officially recognized political parties are allowed access to the primary election. Candidates of new parties trying to gain official recognition can only run in the general election. If they receive 7,500 votes, that new party will be considered officially recognized by the district.[4][5]

Process to establish a political party

Figure 1: This is the Declaration of Candidacy form candidates running for election in Washington, D.C.

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Title 3 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations

  • The first step in establishing a new political party in D.C. is to file with the Board of Elections and register with the Office of Campaign Finance (OCF).[6]
  • Once a party is registered, they can submit their party name to the Board of Elections for approval. It is suggested that the application for party name approval be submitted no later than May 1 of an election year in order to ensure the name is approved in time to circulate a candidate's nominating petition for the general election.[6] Nominating petitions will not be granted to candidates whose party's name has not been approved.[7]
  • Candidates of the new political party are nominated as minor party candidates and are only allowed to run in the general election. Minor party candidates have the same filing requirements as other candidates, but they follow the general election deadlines.[8]
  • In order to gain permanent ballot status, meaning a party would no longer have to file each election year and would gain access to the primary election, a new party's candidate must receive at least 7,500 votes cast in the general election for the office of Delegate, Mayor, Chairman of the Council, or member of the Council.[9]

Process to become a candidate

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Title 3 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations

In D.C., all candidates except write-in candidates have the same filing requirements, regardless of their political party affiliation. However, because only officially recognized political party candidates are allowed to run in the primary election, filing deadlines do vary. The requirements to file as a candidate are outlined below.

  • Officially Recognized Political Party Candidates, Minor Party Candidates and Independent Candidates
    • Must file a signed and notarized Declaration of Candidacy, an Affidavit of Qualifications and a nominating petition to the District of Columbia Board of Elections no later than 90 days before the election in which the candidate is running. For officially recognized political party candidates, that would be 90 days before the primary election, and for minor party and Independent candidates, that would be 90 days before the general election. The nominating petition may be circulated as early as 144 days before the election in which the candidate is running.[6][10]
    • Once nominating petitions have been filed with the Board of Elections, they will be posted publicly for a period of 10 days. During that time, any registered D.C. voter may challenge the validity of a petition by filing a signed, written statement with the Board of Elections.[6]
    • Signature requirements for the nominating petition are as follows:[6]
Office Minimum signatures needed for the primary election Minimum signatures needed for the general election
Mayor 2,000 or 1% (whichever is less) of registered voters in the same party as the candidate 3,000 or 1.5% (whichever is less) of registered voters in the same party as the candidate
Attorney General 2,000 or 1% (whichever is less) of registered voters in the same party as the candidate 3,000 or 1.5% (whichever is less) of registered voters in the same party as the candidate
Chairman of the D.C. Council 2,000 or 1% (whichever is less) of registered voters in the same party as the candidate 3,000 or 1.5% (whichever is less) of registered voters in the same party as the candidate
At-Large Member of the D.C. Council 2,000 or 1% (whichever is less) of registered voters in the same party as the candidate 3,000 or 1.5% (whichever is less) of registered voters in the same party as the candidate
Ward Member of the D.C. Council 250 or 1% (whichever is less) of registered voters in the same party and residing the same ward as the candidate 500 signatures of registered voters who reside in the same ward as the candidate
Nonvoting Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives 2,000 or 1% (whichever is less) of registered voters in the same party as the candidate 3,000 or 1.5% (whichever is less) of registered voters in the same party as the candidate
U.S. "Shadow" Senator 2,000 or 1% (whichever is less) of registered voters in the same party as the candidate 3,000 or 1.5% (whichever is less) of registered voters in the same party as the candidate
U.S. "Shadow" Representative 2,000 or 1% (whichever is less) of registered voters in the same party as the candidate 3,000 or 1.5% (whichever is less) of registered voters in the same party as the candidate
Ward Member of the State Board of Education 200 signatures of registered voters who reside in the same ward as the candidate
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner 25 signatures of registered voters who reside in the same Single-Member District as the candidate
  • Write-in Candidates
    • Like other candidates, write-in candidates must file a Declaration of Candidacy and Affidavit of Qualifications with the Board of Elections. These are due at 4:45 p.m. on 14th day preceding the election.[11] Write-in candidates are allowed in both the primary and general elections, so this deadline varies depending on which election they are running in.[6][12]
    • If a write-in candidate wins the election, he or she must complete an Affirmation of Write-In Candidacy form at the office of the Board of Elections no later than three days after the election.[6] At that time, a write-in candidate may declare affiliation with an officially recognized political party if the candidate is a registered member of the party.[12]

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 Washington, D.C.

In Washington, D.C., petitions are used to place candidates on the ballot. On these petitions, candidates must collect a certain number of registered voters' signatures, depending on the office sought.[13] To collect these signatures, candidates may use circulators, individuals who physically go out among voters on the candidate's behalf to witness the signing of the petition.

Circulators are governed by Section 3-1401 of the D.C. Municipal Regulations. They must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen, not incarcerated for a crime that is considered a felony in D.C., not have been found by a court of law to be legally incompetent to vote and either a resident of D.C. or, if not a resident, have registered with the D.C. Board of Elections as a non-resident circulator.[14]

Registering with the Board of Elections as a non-resident circulator must be done in person at the Board of Elections Office (contact information for this office can be found on this page under the section titled "Election-related agencies"). To register, non-resident circulators must bring proof of residence, which could be any one of the following: a current and valid government-issued photo identification, a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck, a copy of a government-issued document or a copy of any other official document, including leases or residential rental agreements, occupancy statements from homeless shelters, or tuition or housing bills from colleges or universities.[13] They must also complete and file a Non-Resident Petition Circulator Registration Form to provide the name of the candidate, which office he or she is seeking and the name, address, phone number and email address of the circulator. On this form, circulators also affirm that they, though not residents of D.C., would otherwise be eligible to vote in D.C., acknowledge that they have received the rules regulating the petition process, promise to adhere to those rules and consent to the Board of Elections' subpoena power and to the jurisdiction of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for the enforcement of subpoenas.[14]

While soliciting signatures, circulators are not allowed to compensate voters,[15] and voters are not allowed to sign any name but their own.[16]

When the petitions are completed and ready to be filed with the D.C. Board of Elections, circulators must swear under oath that they circulated the petition, witnessed the signing of each signature, acknowledge responsibility for the contents of the petition and that according to the best information available, believe each signature on the petition is genuine. Circulators must also sign an affidavit declaring that to the best of their knowledge the petition is complete and contains the required number of signatures.[14]

Campaign Finance

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Chapter 30 of the DC Municipal Regulations

  • All candidates are required to file a Statement of Candidacy form with the Office of Campaign Finance within five days of picking up the nominating petition. This statement must detail whether spending is anticipated to be less than $500 and whether a principal campaign committee will be designated. If a principal campaign committee is designated, the candidate must provide the name of the principal campaign committee, the names of any other authorized committees, and the names of the national bank(s) located in the District of Columbia that has been designated as the candidate’s campaign depository.[17]
  • Candidates with campaign expenditures less than $500 are only required to file the Report of Exemption for a Candidate Spending Less than Five Hundred Dollars to the Director of Campaign Finance of the Board of Elections. This report must be submitted twice. It is first due on the 15th day prior to the election in which the candidate is participating and next on the 30th day after the election.[17]
  • Candidates with campaigns exceeding $500 must file Receipts and Expenditures Reports (R&E Reports), unless they have designated a principal campaign committee, in which case the committee would then be required to file for the candidate.[17]
    • During an election year, R&E Reports must be filed with the Office of Campaign Finance on: January 31, March 10, June 10, August 10, October 10, December 10, and the 8th day preceding the date of any election in which the candidate seeks office.[17]
    • These reports cover all financial transactions above $15 through the 5th day preceding the filing deadline. The next report must start with the day following the last date on the former report.[17]
    • Reports must continue to be filed on January 31 and July 31 of any year until all campaign debts or obligations are paid in full. Thus, principal campaign committees shall continue to function until all financial obligations are completed. They cannot spend or collect money for future elections.
    • If there is a surplus of campaign funds after the election, the money can be used to retire the debts of the committee that received the funds, returned to donors or contributed to a political party for political purposes.[17]
  • All reports may be filed electronically at: http://ocf.dc.gov/.
  • In addition to reporting requirements, candidates are also subject to the following donation limits:[17]
    • No campaign contributions can be added to a candidate's personal funds or accounts.
    • Candidates cannot accept funds from any one donor exceeding:
      • $2,000 if running for U.S. Senator or Representative
      • $1,500 if running for Chairman of the Council
      • $1,000 if running for Member of the Council At-Large
      • $500 if running for Member of the Council from a ward
    • Contributions and expenditures made in cash cannot exceed $25.
    • With the exception of contributions received to retire debt, no contributions shall be accepted after a candidate has been elected, defeated in an election, or has terminated the candidacy.

Election-related agencies

See also: State election agencies

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

District of Columbia Board of Elections:

Why: Oversees candidate filing and election procedures.
441 4th Street, NW, Suite 250 North
Washington, DC 20001
Telephone: (202) 727-2525
Toll Free: 1-866-DC-VOTES
Fax: (202) 347-2648
Email: director@dcboee.org
http://www.dcboee.org/home.asp

Office of Campaign Finance:

Why: Regulates political campaigns and the conduct of government officials.
Frank D. Reeves Municipal Building
2000 14th Street, NW, Suite 433
Washington, DC 20009
Telephone: (202) 671-0547
Fax: (202) 671-0658
Email: ocf@dc.gov
http://www.ocf.dc.gov/

See also

External links

Official district and federal links

Forms

Other information

Additional reading

References

  1. District of Columbia Board of Elections, "April 1, 2014 Primary Election," accessed November 6, 2013
  2. Board of Elections Primary Election Calendar of Important Dates and Deadlines, accessed November 5, 2013
  3. District of Columbia Board of Elections Website, "Primary and General Elections," accessed November 11, 2013
  4. D.C. Municipal Regulations, "Section 3-1500," Accessed December 20, 2013
  5. D.C. Municipal Regulations, "Section 3-1501," Accessed December 20, 2013
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 District of Columbia Board of Elections Website, "Candidate Guide to Ballot Access," accessed November 25, 2014
  7. D.C. Municipal Regulations, "Section 3-1605," accessed November 27, 2013
  8. District of Columbia Board of Elections Website, "Primary and General Elections," accessed December 20, 2013
  9. D.C. Municipal Regulations, "Section 3-1500," accessed December 20, 2013
  10. D.C. Municipal Regulations, "Section 3-602," accessed December 20, 2013
  11. D.C. Municipal Regulations, "Section 3-1406," accessed December 20, 2013
  12. 12.0 12.1 D.C. Municipal Regulations, "Section 3-1616," accessed December 20, 2013
  13. 13.0 13.1 District of Columbia Board of Elections Website, "Candidate Guide to Ballot Access," accessed December 20, 2013
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 D.C. Municipal Regulations, "Section 3-1401," accessed December 31, 2013
  15. D.C. Municipal Regulations, "Section 3-1003," accessed December 31, 2013
  16. D.C. Municipal Regulations, "Section 3-1005," accessed December 31, 2013
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 17.6 DC Municipal Regulations, "Chapter 30, Campaign Finance Operations," accessed November 26, 2013