Ballot access requirements for political candidates in Wisconsin

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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 Wisconsin. 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 Wisconsin. 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

See also: Wisconsin elections, 2014

Wisconsin will have a primary for statewide and legislative offices will be held on August 12, 2014 and a general election on November 4, 2014. Voters will elect candidates to serve in the following state and federal offices:

The 2014 filing deadline for all candidates running for statewide and legislative office is June 2, 2014 (for filing nomination papers and declaration of candidacy) and June 5, 2014 (for filing a Statement of Economic Interest).[1] The deadline for filing a petition to become a Ballot Status Party is April 1, 2014.[2]

Deadline Event
April 1, 2014 Deadline to file petition for a new political party to become a Ballot Status Party
June 2, 2014 Deadline for statewide and legislative candidates to register their campaign committees

Deadline for statewide and legislative candidates to file their Nomination Paper for Partisan Office form
Deadline for statewide and legislative candidates to file their Declaration of Candidacy form

June 5, 2014 Deadline for statewide and legislative candidates to file their Statement of Economic Interest (SEI) form
August 12, 2014 State Primary Date
November 4, 2014 General election

Political parties

See also: List of political parties in the United States

As of October 2013, there are three recognized political parties in Wisconsin.[3]

Party Website link By-laws/Platform link
Republican Party Official party website Party platform
Democratic Party Official party website Party by-laws
Constitution 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. Wisconsin[4][5] 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.[6]

Process to establish a political party

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations, Chapter 5, Section 62

In Wisconsin, political parties entitled to primary and general election ballot position are called "ballot status parties." In order to qualify for ballot status, a political party must meet one of the following criteria:[7][8]

  • At the last gubernatorial election, one of the party's candidates for any statewide office must have received at least one percent of the total vote cast for that office. In 2010, for example, a total of 2,062,661 votes were cast for Treasurer, meaning that a party's candidate for that office would have had to win at least 20,627 in order for the party to have ballot status.[9] Alternatively, if the last general election was also a presidential election, the party's candidate for president must have won at least one percent of the total vote cast that for that office in the state. In 2012, for example, a total of 3,068,434 votes were cast for president, meaning that a party's candidate for that office would have had to win at least 30,685 votes in order for the party to have ballot status.[10]
  • A political organization that was listed as "independent" at the last general election and whose candidate met the above qualifications can receive ballot status by requesting such status from the Government Accountability Board. The request must include the party's name, which cannot be the same as that of an existing party, and must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on April 1 of the election year.
  • A political organization may petition for ballot status. The organization must file with the Government Accountability Board a petition containing the signatures of at least 10,000 qualified electors, including at least 1,000 from each of at least three separate congressional districts. The petition must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on April 1 of the election year and will entitle the organization to ballot status for the period ending with the general election.[11]

Selecting candidates

Ballot status parties nominate their candidates by primary.[7]

Maintaining party status

In order to maintain ballot status, one of the party's candidates for any statewide office at the last gubernatorial election must have received at least one percent of the total vote cast for that office. Alternatively, if the last general election was also a presidential election, the party's candidate for president must have won at least one percent of the total vote cast for that office in the state.[7]

Process to become a candidate

Figure 1: This is the Declaration of Candidacy form.
Quick facts about Lieutenant Governors
  • 45 states have Lt. governors, 43 of them fill the office by election
  • 21 states, including Wisconsin, elect Lt. governors on a single ticket with the governor at both the primary and general elections
  • 5 states elect Lt. governors separately from Governors at the primary and then put the top two vote-getters together on the general election ballot
  • 17 states elect Lt. governors separately from the Governor

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations, Chapter 8

The filing process for both ballot status party candidates and other candidates (e.g., independents, non-recognized parties, etc.) is the same. The filing procedure, however, does vary somewhat according to the type of office sought. Please note that while the filing requirements are the same, only ballot status party candidates can participate in primaries.[12]

For federal candidates

Candidates for federal office must file a Declaration of Candidacy with the Government Accountability Board. The Declaration of Candidacy must state the following:[12][13]

  • That the individual is a candidate for the office named on the form
  • That the individual meets the qualifications for office, or will meet the qualifications by the time he or she assumes office if elected
  • That the individual will otherwise qualify for office if nominated and elected

The Declaration of Candidacy must be sworn before an individual authorized to administer oaths.[13] The Declaration of Candidacy must be filed by 5:00 p.m. on June 1 preceding the election (if June 1 falls on non-business day, the form will be due on the next preceding business day).[12][14][15]

In addition to the Declaration of Candidacy, the candidate must submit a Nomination Paper for Partisan Office to the Government Accountability Board. The number of signatures required varies according to the office sought:[12][14][15]

Nomination paper signature requirements for federal candidates
Office Minimum signatures Maximum signatures
United States Senator 2,000 4,000
United States Representative 1,000 2,000

Nomination papers must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. on June 1 preceding the election (if June 1 falls on non-business day, the form will be due on the next preceding business day).[12][14][15]

For state candidates

Candidates for statewide and state legislative office must file a Declaration of Candidacy (the same as that filed by federal candidates). Like federal candidates, candidates for state-level office must also file nomination papers. Signature requirements vary according to the office sought:[14][15][16]

Nomination paper signature requirements for state-level candidates
Office Minimum signatures Maximum signatures
Statewide offices (e.g., Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, etc.) 2,000 4,000
State Senator 400 800
State Representative 200 400

Declarations of Candidacy and nomination papers must be filed with the Government Accountability Board by 5:00 p.m. on June 1 preceding the election (if June 1 falls on non-business day, the form will be due on the next preceding business day).[14][15][16]

In addition to these documents, state-level candidates must also submit a Statement of Economic Interests to the Government Accountability Board by 4:30 p.m. on the third day following the last day for filing nomination papers.[14][15][16]

Write-in candidates

On April 2, 2014, Governor Scott Walker signed into law AB 419, which requires that write-in candidates file campaign finance statements in order to have their votes tallied.[17]

Petition requirements

DocumentIcon.jpg See statutes: Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations, Chapter 8, Section 40

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 Wisconsin.

General petition requirements

Each sheet of a petition must include the word "PETITION" at the top in boldface type. Any individual signing a petition must include his or her signature, address, and date of signing.[18]

Nomination papers

Nomination papers cannot be circulated prior to April 15 in the year of the election. Nomination papers for ballot status party candidates must include the following text at the top:[19]

I, the undersigned, request that the name of (insert candidate's last name plus first name, nickname or initial, and middle name, former legal surname, nickname or middle initial or initials if desired, but no other abbreviations or titles) residing at (insert candidate's street address) be placed on the ballot at the (general or special) election to be held on (date of election) as a candidate representing the (name of party) so that voters will have the opportunity to vote for (him or her) for the office of (name of office). I am eligible to vote in (name of jurisdiction or district in which candidate seeks office). I have not signed the nomination paper of any other candidate for the same office at this election.[20]

Similarly, nomination papers for independent or non-recognized party candidates participating in the general election must include the following text at the top:[21]

I, the undersigned, request that the name of (insert candidate's last name plus first name, nickname or initial, and middle name, former legal surname, nickname or middle initial or initials if desired, but no other abbreviations or titles), residing at (insert candidate's street address) be placed on the ballot at the (general or special) election to be held on (date of election) as a candidate [(representing the (name of party)) or (representing the principle(s) of (statement of principles))] so that voters will have the opportunity to vote for (him or her) for the office of (name of office). I am eligible to vote in the (name of jurisdiction or district in which candidate seeks office). I have not signed the nomination paper of any other candidate for the same office at this election.[20]

Ballot status qualification petitions

No specific format is mandated by statute for ballot status qualification petitions.[22]

Circulator requirements

A circulator certification statement must be included at the bottom of each sheet of a petition. This certification must state the following:[18]

  • That the circulator personally circulated the petition and personally obtained each signature included in the petition;
  • That the circulator knows that the signers are qualified electors of the jurisdiction or district in which the petition was circulated;
  • That the circulator knows that the individuals signed the petition with full knowledge of its contents;
  • That the circulator knows the residences provided by the petition signers;
  • That the circulator knows that each signer signed on the date indicated;
  • That the circulator is a qualified elector of the state, or if not a qualified elector of the state, is a United States citizen age 18 or older who would be eligible to vote were he or she a resident of the state; and
  • That the circulator is aware that falsifying the certification is a punishable offense.

Election-related agencies

See also: State election agencies

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

  • Wisconsin Government Accountability Board[23]
Why: To obtain and file nominating petitions and candidate filing forms; To register campaign committees; To obtain and file campaign finance documents and reports
212 East Washington Avenue, Third Floor
PO Box 7984
Madison, Wisconsin 53707-7984
Phone: 608-266-8005
Toll-free: 1-866-VOTE-WIS
FAX: 608-267-0500
website: http://gab.wi.gov/
Email: gab@wi.gov

Term limits

State executives

Portal:State Executive Officials
See also: State executives with term limits and States with gubernatorial term limits

There are no term limits for Wisconsin state executive positions.

State legislators

See also: State legislatures with term limits

There are no term limits placed on Wisconsin state legislators.

Congressional partisanship

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

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

Congressional Partisan Breakdown from Wisconsin
Party U.S. Senate U.S. House Total
     Democratic Party 1 3 4
     Republican Party 1 5 6
TOTALS as of December 2014 2 8 10

State legislative partisanship

Portal:State legislatures

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

State Senate

Party As of December 2014
     Democratic Party 15
     Republican Party 16
     Vacancy 2
Total 33

State house

Party As of December 2014
     Democratic Party 38
     Republican Party 60
     Independent 1
Total 99

See also

External links

Official state and federal links

Forms

Other information

References

  1. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board "Ballot Access Checklist for 2014 Statewide and Legislative Candidates," Accessed November 7, 2013
  2. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board "Ballot Petition Form for Parties," Accessed November 7, 2013
  3. Ballotpedia e-mail correspondence with Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, September 23, 2013
  4. Wisconsin State Statutes "Section 8.20(2)(a)," Accessed December 4, 2013
  5. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board "Declaration of Candidacy Form for Partisan Office," Accessed December 4, 2013
  6. E-mail consultation with ballot access expert Richard Winger in January 2014.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations, "Chapter 5, Section 62," accessed March 27, 2014
  8. Correspondence with Wisconsin Government Accountability Board in October 2013.
  9. Government Accountability Board, "2010 General Election Results," accessed March 27, 2014
  10. Government Accountability Board, "2012 General Election Results," accessed March 27, 2014
  11. Government Accountability Board, "Petition for Ballot Status," accessed March 27, 2014
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 Government Accountability Board, "Ballot Access Checklist for 2014 Federal Candidates in Wisconsin," accessed March 27, 2014
  13. 13.0 13.1 Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations, "Chapter 8, Section 21," accessed March 27, 2014
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations, "Chapter 8, Section 20," accessed March 27, 2014
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 15.4 15.5 Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations, "Chapter 8, Section 15," accessed March 27, 2014
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Government Accountability Board, "Ballot Access Checklist for 2014 Legislative and Statewide Constitutional Office Candidates," accessed March 27, 2014
  17. Ballot Access News, "Wisconsin Will No Longer Count Write-in Votes Unless Write-in Candidate Files Paperwork," May 17, 2014
  18. 18.0 18.1 Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations, "Chapter 8, Section 40," accessed March 27, 2014
  19. Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations, "Chapter 8, Section 15," accessed March 27, 2014
  20. 20.0 20.1 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
  21. Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations, "Chapter 8, Section 20," accessed March 27, 2014
  22. Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations, "Chapter 5, Section 62," accessed March 27, 2014
  23. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board