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FAQ - Candidates

  1. What are the residency requirements for candidates?
    • President of the United States: a natural born citizen and resident of the U.S. for the last 14 years.
    • United States Senator: a citizen of the U.S. for at least 9 years and resident of the state when elected.
    • United States Representative in Congress: a citizen of the U.S. for at least 7 years and resident of the state when elected.
    • Governor and Lieutenant Governor: an elector and resident of the state for the preceding 7 years.
    • Cabinet Members: an elector and resident of the state for the preceding 7 years.
    • State Senator: an elector and resident of the district upon taking office and a resident of the state for at least 2 years prior to election.
    • State Representative: an elector and resident of the district upon taking office and a resident of the state for at least 2 years prior to election.
    • State Attorney: an elector and resident of the circuit upon taking office.
    • Public Defender: an elector and resident of the circuit upon taking office.
    • Justice of the Supreme Court: an elector and resident of the state upon taking office.
    • Judge, District Court of Appeal: an elector and resident of the territorial jurisdiction of the court upon taking office.
    • Circuit Judge: an elector and resident of the territorial jurisdiction of the court upon taking office.
    • County Offices: See Division of Elections Opinion 94-04.
  2. If I want to be a no party affiliation candidate, can I still be registered to vote as a Republican or Democrat?
    • Yes. Any registered elector who qualifies for office without party affiliation will have their name placed on the ballot at the general election without party affiliation. (Section 99.0955(1), F.S.)
  3. Do I have to designate a campaign treasurer and depository before I make public my intention to run for office?
    • No. Nothing in the election laws prohibits a person from announcing their intention to become a candidate prior to designating a treasurer or depository as long as no contributions are received and no expenditures are made in connection with that announcement. (Section 106.021, F.S.)
  4. What if I want to change my campaign treasurer or other officers?
    • File a reappointment of campaign treasurer (Form DS-DE 9) with the filing officer along with a copy of the letter of resignation or removal.
  5. How are judges elected in Florida and what are their terms?
    • Merit Retention - Not all judges in Florida are elected to office. Supreme Court Justices and Judges of the District Court of Appeal are always appointed by the Governor from a list of three to six candidates presented by the Judicial Nominating Commission for that court. Once appointed, they must serve at least one year before the next general election and, thereafter, must face a "yes" or "no" vote every six years as to whether they will remain in office. If a judge is not retained the appointment process starts again. Further information can be obtained from the Florida State Courts website.
    • Elected Judges- Circuit judges and county court judges have six year terms that begin on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January following the general election. They are on the primary and general election ballots the year before the term ends in January. If a judicial candidate receives a majority of the votes at the primary election, the candidate's name will not appear on the general election ballot unless a write-in candidate has qualified for the same office. If no candidate receives a majority of the votes at the primary election, the names of the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes will appear on the general election ballot. The candidate receiving the highest number of votes at the general election is elected to office.
  6. Can a judicial candidate speak at a political party function?
    • A judicial candidate may attend and speak in his own behalf at political party functions. However, care must be exercised to insure compliance with the election laws and the Code of Judicial Conduct. (Chapter 105, F.S. and DE 78-34) The Judicial Ethics Advisory Commission has stated that judicial candidates may attend political functions to speak about their candidacy as long as the function is not a fundraiser, and the other candidates, if any, are also invited. The judicial candidate may not, however, attend if the political party function is a social gathering where the candidate would not speak to the body, but would merely have the opportunity to speak with other guests. (JEAC Opinion 2004-11.) Other opinions regarding election matters can be obtained from from the Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee Opinions website.
  7. I am a county court judge candidate. Where do I file and qualify?
    • You must file your appointment of campaign treasurer and designation of campaign depository and qualify with the supervisor of elections’ office in the county where you seek election. (Section 105.031, F.S.)
  8. When can I start collecting signatures to qualify as a petition candidate?
    • Before collecting any signatures, all candidates (except federal candidates and special district candidates who have not collected contributions and whose only expense is the signature verification fee) must file the Appointment of Campaign Treasurer and Designation of Campaign Depository (Form DS-DE 9) with the filing officer. Each petition must be submitted before noon of the 28th day preceding the first day of the qualifying period for the office sought to the Supervisor of Elections of the county in which such petition was circulated.