The information on this page applies to candidates for county or special district office, who qualify with the supervisor of elections.
Who can run for office?
Age, residency and any special qualifications vary by office; but you must be a registered voter who resides in Sarasota County to run for office.
Which contests are partisan, and which are nonpartisan?
Judicial, school board, special district (other than hospital board), and municipal offices have nonpartisan elections. All other elected offices in Sarasota County have partisan elections.
In accordance with Florida law, you must be a registered member of the political party for which you are seeking nomination for 365 days before the beginning of qualifying. You may also run for any office without party affiliation. Any person seeking to qualify for office as a candidate with no party affiliation must not have been a registered member of any political party for 365 days before the beginning of the candidate qualifying period. (F.S. 99.021)
How do I start?
The first step is to file for office by submitting paperwork that officially declares your candidacy. This can be done at any time but must be done before you start campaigning. After filing, you are required to submit regular financial reports detailing campaign contributions and expenditures.
Qualifying takes place during a scheduled period and is the process by which you assure your name will be on the ballot. That is when additional paperwork, along with any required fees or petitions will be due.
When will I need to file financial reports?
Once a candidate has filed for office, he or she is required to file regular campaign treasurer reports. See Financial Reporting for Candidates and Committees for more information.
Does it cost any money to run for office?
It does not cost anything to file; however, to become a qualified candidate with placement on the ballot the candidate must pay the qualifying fee or meet the petition requirement.
What is the qualifying fee?
The qualifying fee is based on a percentage of the salary for the office sought as of July 1 of the preceding year of the general election (except for special district offices, which have a flat $25.00 qualifying fee). This fee consists of a three percent filing fee, a two percent party fee, and a one percent election assessment. Candidates running with no party affiliation or for nonpartisan offices are not required to pay the party fee.
Candidates are required to pay the qualifying fee using a check from the candidate’s campaign account, except for special district candidates who are permitted to pay the fee with a personal or campaign check.
What is the petition requirement?
A person who seeks to qualify as a candidate for any office who meets the petition requirements is not required to pay the qualifying fee or party assessment fee at the time of qualifying, pursuant to F.S. 99.095.
The number of petitions required is equal to one percent of the total number of registered voters in the geographical area represented by the office sought in the last general election (except for special district offices, which require 25 petitions). To meet the exact number of valid petitions required, it is often necessary to submit more than the required number.
Candidates are responsible for reproducing Form DS-DE 104. Candidates must submit the petitions to the Supervisor of Elections for verification prior to noon of the 28th day preceding the first day of the qualifying period.
Candidates are required to pay a $0.10 per petition signature verification fee. If a candidate cannot pay this fee without imposing an undue burden on the candidate’s resources, an affidavit of undue burden may be filed with the supervisor of elections, exempting the candidate from paying the ten cents ($.10) per name verification fee. This affidavit must be filed with the supervisor of elections at the time petitions are submitted for verification.
Candidates who meet the required number of valid petitions required will be issued a petition certificate to submit during the qualifying period in lieu of paying the qualifying fee. Candidates who fail to qualify by the petition method will be required to pay the qualifying fee for the office sought in order to obtain ballot position.
Write-in candidate qualifying
Candidates who are unable to pay the qualifying fee or meet the petition requirement may run as a write-in candidate. Write-in candidates, other than those running for President and Vice President, qualify during the same period as regular candidates. If someone qualifies for an office as a write-in candidate, their name does not appear on the ballot, but the notation "Write-in" and a blank line will appear on the General Election ballot beneath any candidates who obtained ballot position. Per Florida Statute, only write-in votes for qualified candidates are counted.
In addition to completing all other forms and meeting the requirements of office, write-in candidates must complete Form DS-DE301c.
What if I want to run for office in my city?
Persons who wish to run for mayor, city council or other municipal offices should contact their city or town clerk, who is the qualifying officer.