_How You Can Become a Candidate!
Requirements for Running for Office
Make sure that you fulfill the age, residency and time requirements for the position. It is usually required that you be a resident in the district for a minimum of one year before running for office. Some positions have special requirements, such as District Attorney. Some positions are full time; some are part time. Some require you make regular meetings. Get these details before you commit yourself to the campaign. Getting your nomination papers March 12 is the first date to circulate and file nomination papers for third party candidates. Before that date, contact your local Director of Elections at your county seat to find out the amount of signatures required for a Constitution Party candidate to get on the ballot in the race you are running.
What to get when you visit your Director of Elections:
- Nomination papers required by the Commonwealth of Pa.
- All the requirements for filing your completed papers on time.
- Handout explaining campaign finance reporting
- Voter registration list in the district of your race
- Candidates who requested nomination petitions for the primary election (your Democrat and Republican opponents).
- List of polling places in your district.
Start to obtain signatures from registered voters in your district. You should make it your goal to obtain 25-50% more signatures than required to better your chances of retaining ballot access in case of a challenge from another candidate. If you need a lot of signatures, you should recruit other Constitution Party members to help you. You have until August 1 to file your papers.
Getting your signatures (Requirements for obtaining signatures)
- Voters must be registered to vote in your district.
- Signers must write their address as listed with the Voter Registration office.
- Signers must sign their full names legibly.
- Two voters at the same residence may NOT sign the same line.
- Ditto marks to signify that the information is the same as the previous signer is not permitted.
- Signers must fill out all the information requested, i.e., name, address, occupation, date.
- Failure to comply with these requirements could result in disqualifying the signature in the case of a challenge.
- Use blue or black ink only on nomination papers.
Where should you go to obtain signatures?
If you are running for a precinct-level position, such as Inspector or Judge of Elections, you will probably have to go door-to-door in your precinct to obtain the signatures of your neighbors. Or you can stand outside your precinct's polling place on primary election day, and ask for signatures as voters exit the polls. (The benefit of this is you know the people are registered to vote, and that they will vote on Election Day.)
If you are running for a higher level office, you will have to determine the places that will give you the highest probability of reaching voters in your district. Working a busy precinct on primary election day is still a good idea. Signatures from voters outside of your district are not valid.
You should keep in mind that you want to obtain as many signatures in the shortest period of time to maximize your efforts. Heavily trafficked locations are best, such as train stations, shopping malls, fairs, donut shops in the early morning, etc.
If you go to a privately-owned location, such as a mall, we recommend that you obtain permission from the owner/management before doing so. It may be preferable to do this in writing. Use your judgment. You should be able to collect 20-30 signatures in an hour.
What do you say when you ask for a signature? Here is an example of what you might say when requesting a signature:
"Hello, my name is Joe Liberty, and I am running for Inspector of Elections in our precinct. I live at (give address so they know you are a neighbor.) Will you sign my petition to help me get on the ballot?"
What do you wear when you are out getting signatures? Business attire is preferable. Remember that you are asking people to vote for you for public office. You want to look professional and credible.
Filing your nomination papers by August 1 After you obtain the number of signatures you have determined you need, you are finished! You can either try to obtain more for publicity purposes or wait until the week of July 23 to file.
If this is your first time running for office, it is better not to wait until the last minute in case you don't have all the necessary requirements when you go and need more time. You don't want to file too early, either, because this will give your opponents more time to think about whether or not they want to challenge your petitions.
Before you go back to your Director of Elections to file your nomination papers, make copies of all your papers and any other documentation you are filing with them.
If you have not been challenged by the deadline, congratulations! You are officially a candidate in the November General Election!
Now it is up to you how much time and effort you will devote to your campaign between now and November. We will cover more about campaigning in another briefing.
What to do the day after you file your nomination papers Depending on the race you are running, this may take a little preparation and assistance from others in advance.
You should write a press release announcing your candidacy and send it immediately to all the local media (newspaper, radio, local television). Make sure you have a good professional "head shot" to submit with it. This must be done right away, or else it will be "old news". The press release should include the following information:
- Position for which you are running
- Where you live and how long
- Your current employment status (where, how long, work title) and any pertinent work history
- Community involvement, particularly any leadership positions held
- Degrees and professional certifications
- Two or three accomplishments you would like to achieve in office (if applicable)
- How to contact your campaign. You should include a minimum of two of the following: address, phone number (with voice mail if there will not be someone available in person all the time), email & web site url)
Here is a web site where you can learn more about writing press releases: http://www.press-release-writing.com/
The press release is probably not necessary if you are running for Inspector or Judge of Elections, unless your municipality has its own local paper.
How to contact your local media Obtain the names and contact information for the news editors. Call them and ask them how they prefer to receive press releases. Most of them will probably say they prefer fax.
If the initial press release is faxed, follow up with a hard copy delivered in person the same day with a copy of your headshot. Ask someone to do this for you if you cannot physically get there soon enough.
If you do not have a fax at home, it might be worthwhile to find someone who does and is willing to do this for you. They don't have to write it for you, but they can send the fax. Make sure they will be available to do this for you when you will need them.
You should introduce yourself to the news editors and tell them what you will be sending them. Getting to know who they are and vice versa can be to your advantage.
Note: The Pennsylvania Manual has a listing of all the local media by county. You can obtain a copy of this from one of your state legislators. The Pa Manual is updated every two years.
How else can we help you? If you have more questions, Contact Us
Good Luck and Happy Campaigning!