By Albert L. Kelley, Esq.

It takes more to become a candidate than saying you are running for office.  Forms must be completed and certain activities must be performed. Before that is done, the proposed candidate is limited in what can be done.  Before becoming a candidate, the proposed candidate must complete the Appointment of Campaign Treasurer and Designation of Campaign Depository.  Until this form is completed, the proposed candidate cannot accept any contributions or spend any funds for the campaign. Once the depository (Bank) is named, the candidate must obtain an Employer Identification Number and open a bank account at the depository named. Each proposed candidate must also complete form DS-DE 84. This form is an acknowledgement that the candidate understands the requirements of Florida Statute 106, regarding campaign financing.  Statute 106 is a lengthy law- roughly 77 pages.  Each candidate acknowledges they have been provided access to the law and understand it.  

For judicial candidates, there is an additional form that must be filed.  This is form DS-DE 83: Statement of Candidate for Judicial Office.  This form states that the candidate has received, read and understands the Florida Code of Judicial Conduct. The total Code is about 49 pages long, but the explanation of the code is several hundred pages long. 

Our local Supervisor of Elections Office has put together a number of other forms for each candidate to sign.  These include a copy of the law regarding placement and removal of political signs, the resign to run law, information for deadlines to receive contributions and the penalty for filing a late report, information regarding candidate petitions, the Hatch Act, among others.

Once all the forms are completed, the candidate is official.  However, they are still not allowed on the ballot.  To get on the ballot, each candidate must qualify. To qualify, the candidate must pay a fee equal to between 4% (nonpartisan) and 6% (partisan) of the salary of the position sought.  As an alternative, a candidate may qualify by the petition method.  This requires obtaining signatures of 1% of the registered votes in the geographic area of the position sought. 

The Supervisor of Elections Office reviews all of the Petitions and if they are deemed valid, the Supervisor will issue a letter to the candidate that they have qualified. If the petitions are insufficient or the fee not paid, the person is no longer a candidate.

This is not the last form to be completed, however.  Once the candidate files their Appointment of Campaign Treasurer and Designation of Campaign Depository, they must start filing their financial reports. The financial reports must be filed initially on a monthly basis.  As the campaign gets closer to the election, the frequency of reporting moves to a weekly basis. 

In addition to the above, the candidate must file a Full and Public Disclosure of Financial Interests.  This form, which is completed online, lists the candidate’s assets, income, liabilities and net worth. Once completed, the candidate must supply a copy to the Supervisor of Election’s Office. 

Al Kelley has worked as an attorney in Monroe County for the last 32 years. He is the author of five law books available through Absolutely Amazing E-Books and the host of “Basics Of The Law”, a legal YouTube channel. He serves as the Vice Chair of the 16th Judicial Circuit Professionalism Panel.  He also previously taught business law, personnel law, and labor law at St. Leo University. This article is offered as a public service and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. If you have any questions about legal issues, you should confer with a licensed Florida attorney.

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