In Florida, a minor political party is defined as a group specified in section 103.095, Florida Statutes which on January 1 preceding a primary election has less than 5% of the registered voters of the state. (Section 97.021(18), Florida Statutes)
Who can become a minor political party in Florida?
Any group of citizens organized for the general purpose of electing to office qualified persons and determining public issues under the democratic processes of the United States may become a minor political party. (Section 97.021(18), Florida Statutes)
How does a group become registered as a minor political party in Florida?
The group of citizens must submit a certificate showing the name of the organization, the names and addresses of its current officers, including the members of its executive committee, accompanied by a completed uniform statewide voter registration application as specified in section 97.052, Florida Statutes, for each of its current officers and members of its executive committee which reflect their affiliation with the proposed minor political party, and a copy of its constitution, bylaws, and rules and regulations to the Division of Elections, Department of State, R.A. Gray Building, Room 316, 500 S. Bronough Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0250. (Section 103.095(1), Florida Statutes)
Please also note the officers must include a chair, vice chair, secretary, and treasurer elected by the members of the executive committee who must be members of the minor political party and no member may hold more than one office, except one person may hold the offices of secretary and treasurer. (Section 103.09(3), Florida Statutes)
Once received, the Division will review the documentation for legal sufficiency and notify the group if the party is approved as a minor political party in Florida. Once approved, the Division shall process the voter registration applications submitted by the members of the executive committee of the minor political party.
Recognition of the group in Florida as a minor political party does not mean the group is recognized as a party in other states or at the federal level.
Is there a special form or format for a group to request recognition as a minor political party?
No; however, the laws envision the group who is requesting recognition as a minor political party to file a signed document along the lines of:
I certify the following:
(1) The name of the minor political party is the _____________ Party.
(2) The current officers of this party are: (list name, party office, and address of each officer – the officers must at least include a chair, vice-chair, secretary, and treasurer with all being different individuals, except the secretary and treasurer may be the same person. All must be registered members of the minor political party).
(3) The members of the party’s executive committee are: (list name, party position, and address of each member; of the executive committee.)
Attached are copies of the party’s constitution, bylaws, and rules/regulations. Also attached are the voter registration applications for each of the party’s officers and members of its executive committee reflecting their desired membership in the party. ___________________________________ (Authorized party officer’s signature)
To constitute a “group,” the party organizers must consist of more than one person. While the same person may occupy the offices of the party’s treasurer and secretary on its executive committee, separate persons must be the chair and vice chair.
The party’s officers and the members of its executive committee may be the same people, but the listing of the party’s officers and executive committee members must conform to the requirements as set forth in party’s constitution bylaws, and rules.
Are there any statutory requirements that must be contained in the party’s constitution, bylaws, rules, or regulations?
Yes. The constitution, bylaws, rules, regulation, or equivalent documents: (1) Must reflect that each voter registered as a member of the minor political party has a fundamental right to fully and meaningfully participate in the business and affairs of the party without any monetary encumbrance; and (2) Must have provisions that, at a minimum, reasonably prescribe procedures to: (a) prescribe its membership; (b) conduct its meetings according to generally accepted parliamentary practices; (c) timely notify its members as to the time, date, and place of all of its meetings; (d) timely publish notice on its public and functioning website as to the time, date, and place of all its meetings; (e) elect its officers; (f) remove its officers; (g) make party nomination when required by law; (h) conduct campaigns for party nominees; (i) raise and expend party funds; (j) select delegates to its national convention, if applicable; (k) select presidential electors, if applicable; and (l) alter or amend the party’s governing documents. (Section 103.095(2), Florida Statutes)
Does the party have to submit anything else to the Division of Elections after the Division approves its registration?
The Division will provide the party a letter acknowledging its registration and the letter will inform the party about registration on the state’s campaign electronic finance reporting system, which the party must use in filing periodic campaign finance reports. The party must report its contributions and expenditures pursuant to Section 106.29, Florida Statutes, on at least a quarterly basis, and on a more expedited schedule before a primary or general election. The party’s chair and treasurer must certify to the correctness of each report; any chair or treasurer who certifies a report knowing it is incorrect, false, or incomplete commits a felony. (Sections 106.0705 and 106.29, Florida Statutes)
Are there restrictions on how a political party can use its contributions?
Yes. The officers of the political party must become familiar with Chapter 106, Florida Statutes (Campaign Finance), regarding limitations on the party’s contributions and expenditures. Some examples of restrictions (not an all inclusive list) on contributions are that a political party cannot use contributions received less than 5 days before an election on behalf of a candidate, issue, or the party participating in the election; the party cannot accept any contribution that is designated for a particular candidate; and the party cannot accept any in-kind contribution that fails to provide a direct benefit to the political party. (Sections 106.08 and 106.29, Florida Statutes)
If the party’s officers, executive committee members, or its constitution or bylaws change, does the party have to notify the Division of Elections?
Yes. If changes occur that reflect a change in the party’s original filing certificate, the party must notify the Division of Elections within 5 days of the change. (Section 103.095(4), Florida Statutes)
Who is responsible for advertising that the minor political party is a political party operating in Florida?
The responsibility rests on the party; however, the Division of Elections will notify each of the county supervisors of elections regarding the recognition of the newly created political party. The Division also will list the minor political party on its political party webpage; however, the party has the sole responsibility to recruit members for the party and have voters register in the party.
If the party solicits or collects voter registration applications to recruit persons to register as a member of the party, the party must comply with the third-party voter registration organization law in Section 97.0575, Florida Statutes. For information about becoming a third-party voter registration organization, please consult the Division’s 3PVRO webpage.
Do candidates who qualify as candidates from a minor political party pay a party assessment?
Whether the minor political party candidate pays a party assessment at the time of qualifying is a matter left to the discretion of the party. If paid, the assessment equates to 2% of the annual salary of the office being sought (Section 99.092, Florida Statutes). The minor political party must inform the Division of Election if it wants the qualifying officer to levy the party assessment, which the qualifying officer will subsequently remit to the party.
Will minor political party candidates appear on primary election ballots?
If more than one candidate from the minor political party has qualified for the same office, the names of the candidates will appear on the ballot and only registered members of the minor political party will be permitted to vote for the candidates. If only one candidate has qualified for the office, the candidate’s name will not be on the primary ballot, but will appear on the general election ballot.
How does a minor political party terminate its status as a minor political party?
The authorized party officer provides to the Division of Elections a signed letter indicating that it is withdrawing or terminating its political party status in Florida. The Division will acknowledge the termination and remove the party from its list of authorized minor political parties in Florida.
Can the party’s status as a political party be terminated involuntarily?
Yes. See Rule 1S-2.050 for the possible termination reasons and procedures. The political party has the right to appeal its termination to the Florida Elections Commission. (Section 103.095(5), Florida Statutes)
If I have questions, who do I contact about becoming a minor political party?
Call the Division of Elections, Bureau of Election Records, at 850-245-6240. The Division can answer procedural questions, but cannot offer legal advice to any group desiring to form as a minor political party.
Under Florida law, e-mail addresses are public records. If you do not want your e-mail address released in response to a public records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead, contact this office by phone or in writing.