Filing requirements for congressional candidates

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This page contains information about the requirements for congressional candidates seeking ballot access in one of the 50 states.

Federal Requirements to run for congressional office

According to the Constitution of the United States,

"No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen."[1]

These are the fundamental requirements for running for congressional office. There are also federal regulations concerning campaign finances, which must be reported to the Federal Election Commission.

Federal Election Commission

According to the FEC, an individual becomes a federal candidate, and must begin to report their campaign finances, once he has either raised or spent $5,000 in pursuit of his campaign. Within fifteen days of this benchmark for status as a candidate, he must register with the FEC and designate his official campaign committee, to be responsible for the funds and expenditures of the campaign. This committee must have an official treasurer, and cannot support any candidate but the one who registered the committee. Detailed financial reports are then made to the FEC every financial quarter after the individual is registered with the FEC. Reports are also made before primaries and before the general election.[2]

State requirements to run for congressional office

States require the individual to establish himself as a candidate by two methods. The individual must either collect signatures of people who want him to be on the ballot, or pay a fee for registering as a candidate. In some cases, the state requires both a certain number of signatures and a fee, and in a few cases the candidate can choose either signatures or a fee.

Florida requires the most of its candidates: a major party candidate pays $10,440 and collects 112,174 signatures to run for U.S. Senate, and the same fee but 2,298 signatures to run for the House.[3] South Carolina also requires major party candidates to pay large fees, but does not require signatures. To run for US Senate in South Carolina, the candidate pays $10,440; to run for House, $3,480.[4]

In Alaska, individuals pay a $100 filing fee, and do not need any signatures.[5] In New Hampshire, a major party candidate can pay $50 or collect 100 signatures to run for the House of Representatives.[6]

In many states, the political party is responsible for paying the filing fee for its candidate. A filing fee of 1% of the salary of an elected congressman, or $1,740, is also common. The average of the state filing fees to run for the US House of Representatives is $1,465.

Requirement type by state

States requiring signatures

These 19 states require petition signatures for candidates to achieve ballot access in a congressional race.
These 19 states require fees for candidates to achieve ballot access in a congressional race.
These four states require fees for candidates to achieve ballot access in a congressional race.
These eight states require both fees and petition signatures for candidates to achieve ballot access in a congressional race.

States requiring fee

States requiring either signatures or a fee

States requiring both signatures and a fee

Filing requirements detailed by state

See also: Signature requirements and deadlines for 2012 U.S. Congress elections

The specific filing information is detailed below. Click [show] to expand the table.

See also


  1. National Archives "The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription" Accessed December 7, 2012
  2. Federal Election Commission "Candidate Registration Brochure" Accessed December 7, 2012
  3. Florida Division of elections "2012 Qualifying information" Accessed December 8, 2012
  4. "Filing Fees" Access December 8, 2012
  5. Alaska Division of Elections "Filing for Office" Accessed December 8, 2012
  6. New Hampshire Secretary of State "Filing for office" Accessed December 8, 2012
  7. Alabama Secretary of State "Candidate Guide" Accessed December 8, 2011
  8. State of Alaska Division of Elections "Political Party Candidates" Accessed November 26, 2011
  9. Arizona Department of State: Office of the Secretary of State "2010 Congressional Partisan Signature Requirements" Accessed November 25, 2011
  10. Arkansas state board of election comissioners "Running for public office: a "Plain English" handbook for candidates" Accessed December 7, 2012
  11. United States Representative in Congress "Summary of Qualifications and Requirements for Partisan Nomination" Accessed November 27, 2011
  12. Colorado Secretary of State "How to Run for Office" Accessed November 26, 2011
  13. Connecticut Election Services "Frequently Asked Questions" Accessed January 7, 2012
  14. State of Delaware: The Official Website of the First State "Candidates for Federal Office" Accessed November 26, 2011
  15. Florida Division of Elections "2010 Qualifying Information" Accessed November 26, 2011
  16. Legal Notice for Publication in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution "Qualifying Fees" Accessed November 26, 2011
  17. Office of Elections: State of Hawaii "Factsheet: Candidate Filing Process 2012 Elections" Accessed November 26, 2011
  18. Idaho Secretary of State, "2012 Federal & State Candidate Filing Requirements," Accessed February 8, 2012
  19. Illinois State Board of Elections "2012 Candidates Guide" Accessed November 26, 2011
  20. Indiana Secretary of State "2012 Candidate Guide" Accessed December 1, 2011
  21. Office of the Iowa Secretary of State "Candidate's Guide to the Primary Election" Accessed November 26, 2011
  22. Kansas Election Standards "Chapter IV: Candidates" Accessed November 26, 2011
  23. Kentucky State Board of Elections "Candidate Qualifications and Filing Fees" Accessed November 26, 2011
  24. Louisiana Secretary of State "Fees/Nomination Petitions" Accessed December 1, 2011
  25. State of Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap "State of Maine 2012 Candidate's Guide to Ballot Access" Accessed November 26, 2011
  26. Maryland State Board of Elections "Candidacy" Accessed November 27, 2011
  27. Maryland Elections Division "Candidacy Requirements" Accessed January 7, 2012
  28. 28.0 28.1 Massachusetts Secretary of State "Candidates Guide" Accessed April 25, 2012
  29. Massachusetts Elections Division "Election Schedule" Accessed December 1, 2011
  30. State of Michigan Secretary of State Department of State "Filing Requirements: U.S. Representative in Congress" Accessed November 26, 2011
  31. Office of the Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie "Filing Fees" Accessed November 27, 2011
  32. State of Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann Secretary of State "2012 Candidate Qualifying Guide" Accessed November 27, 2011
  33. Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan "Filing Information for Candidates" Accessed November 27, 2011
  34. Secretary of State Linda McCulloch Elections and Government Services Division "Offices and Filing Fees for the 2012 Ballot" Accessed November 27, 2011
  35. Nebraska Secretary of State "Filing Fee Schedule" Accessed December 1, 2011
  36. State of Nevada Ross Miller Secretary of State "Campaign Guide 2012" Accessed November 27, 2011
  37. State of New Hampshire "Filing for Office for State Primary" Accessed November 27, 2011
  38. State of New Jersey Department of State Division of Elections "Partisan Candidates" Accessed November 27, 2011
  39. State of New Mexico Dianna J. Duran Secretary of State "2012 Candidate Guide" Accessed November 27, 2011
  40. New York State Election Board "Running for Office" Accessed December 1, 201
  41. North Carolina State Board of Elections "Candidacy Filing Fees" Accessed November 27, 2011
  42. Secretary of State Alvin A. Jaeger "Running for U.S. Congress" Accessed November 27, 2012
  43. Ohio Secretary of State "2012 Ohio Candidate Requirement Guide" Accessed December 1, 2011
  44. Oregon Secretary of State: Kate Brown "Candidate's Manual" Accessed November 27, 2011
  45. Pennsylvania Department of State "Running for Office: Filing Fees and Signature Requirements" Accessed December 1, 2011
  46. A. Ralph Mollis Secretary of State "Rhode Island How to Run for Office: A guide for Candidates" Accessed November 27, 2011
  47. South Carolina Votes "Filing Fees" Accessed November 2011
  48. South Dakota Secretary of State Jason M. Gant "2012 Signature Requirements" Accessed November 27, 2010
  49. U.S. House 2012 "Qualifying Procedures for Tennessee Candidates for United States House of Representatives" Accessed November 27, 2011
  50. Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade "Republican or Democratic Party Nominees" Accessed November 27, 2011
  51. UtCaah Lieutenant Governor Elections Becoming a Federal Candidate" Accessed November 27, 2011
  52. Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos "Elections and Campaign Finance Division" Accessed November 27, 2011
  53. Virginia State Board of Elections "Candidate Bulletins" Accessed December 1, 2011
  54. Washington Secretary of State "2012 Filing for Public Elective Office in Washington State" Accessed November 27, 2011
  55. West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant "Offices on the Ballot 2012" Accessed November 27, 2011
  56. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board "Ballot Access Checklist for 2012 Federal Candidates in Wisconsin" Accessed November 27, 2011
  57. Wyoming Elections Division "2012 Key Election Dates" Accessed November 27, 2011