Florida Department of State

  • Room 316, R.A. Gray Building
  • 500 South Bronough Street
  • Tallahassee, Fl 32399-0250
  • (850)245-6200

Division of Elections

Frequently Asked Questions

The Division of Elections has assembled a list of questions most commonly asked of our staff. These questions deal with a variety of issues such as campaign financing, voter registration, ballots, petitions, etc. Each question is accompanied by a brief answer. We have grouped these questions and answers into categories. Simply click on one of the topics to jump to that set of questions.

  • Voter Registration - How to Register, Voter Information Card, Change of Address, Military and Registering, Statistical Information, Closed Primary
  • Elections - Presidential Preference Primary Election and Other Elections, Electoral College, Poll workers, Poll watchers, Retention for Judicial Office
  • Voting - Polling Place Hours, Identification at the Polls, Voter Challenges, Provisional Ballot Voting, How to Request an Absentee Ballot, Absentee Voting, Early Voting
  • Petitions and Initiatives - Filing With Department of State, Signatures
  • Candidates - Residency Requirements, Party Affiliations, Campaign Treasurer Appointment, Filing Requirements and Procedures, How Judges are Elected and Terms
  • Campaign Advertising - Disclaimer Requirements, Electioneering Communications
  • Campaign Finance - Campaign Reports, Campaigning
  • Committees - Filing Requirements, Contribution Limitations
  • Resign-to-Run – The law, its exceptions and exemptions, some examples, its relationship with the dual officeholding prohibition and federal Hatch Act, and contact information
  • Minor Political Parties – How to Register, Definitions, Filing and Reporting Requirements

Questions and Answers

Voter Registration - Click on question to reveal answer.Back

  1. Who can register to vote?
  2. In order to register to vote, a person must:

    • Be a citizen of the United States of America (a lawful permanent resident is not a U.S. citizen for registration and voting purposes);
    • Be a Florida resident;
    • Be 18 years old (you may preregister if you are 16 years old);
    • Not now be adjudicated mentally incapacitated with respect to voting in Florida or any other state without having had your voting rights restored;
    • Not have been convicted of a felony in Florida, or any other state, without your civil rights having been restored;
    • Provide your current and valid Florida driver's license number or Florida identification card number. If you do not have a current and valid Florida driver’s license number or Florida identification card, you must provide the last four digits of your Social Security number. If you do not have a FL DL#, FL ID card#, or SSN, write “NONE” in the box provided on the voter registration application.
  3. Can I register to vote if I am a lawful permanent resident?
  4. No. Only U.S. citizens can register or vote in Florida. To be a U.S. citizen, you must be born in the United States or certain U.S. territories, be born to U.S. citizen parents, or be naturalized. Although a lawful permanent resident (commonly referred to as a “green card holder”) has the right to live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis, he or she cannot register or vote.

  5. If I have citizenship in the U.S., and another country, can I still register to vote?
  6. Yes as long as you are a U.S. citizen and satisfy the other requirements for registration.

  7. How or where can I register to vote?
  8. You can apply to register to vote in any of the following ways:

    • Request or pick-up a Florida Voter Registration Application from the office of your County Supervisor of Elections. Complete, sign and mail the application to the office of your County Supervisor of Elections.
    • Fill in the pdf application the Division of Elections’ website. Print, sign and mail the application to the office of your County Supervisor of Elections.
    • Print the application from the Division of Elections’ website. Complete, sign and mail the application to the office of your County Supervisor of Elections.
    • Apply through any Florida driver’s license office or tax collector’s office that issues driver’s licenses or Florida identification cards. Submit your voter registration information at the same time that you apply for a new driver’s license, renew your license, or update your address on your driver’s license.
    • Apply through any “voter registration agency” (i.e., any government entity designated by the National Voter Registration Act or state law who must allow you to apply to register) at the same time you obtain new or renewing agency services or update your address for the continued receipt of such services. These agencies include:

       

      • Any office that provides public assistance (e.g. Department of Children and Families’ Food Assistance Program and the Temporary Cash Assistance Program and Department of Health’s WIC Program)
      • Any office that primarily serves persons with disabilities (e.g., Department of Education’s Division of Blind Services and Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, any center for independent living, any office within an educational institute that serves persons with disabilities).
      • Any military recruitment office (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, Marines)
      • Any public library
    • Obtain a Florida Voter Registration Application form from any entity authorized by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to issue permits for fishing, hunting or trapping. Complete, sign and mail the application to the office of your County Supervisor of Elections.

    The Florida Voter Registration Application requires an original signature.

  9. When do I need to use the voter registration application?
  10. You have to use a voter registration form to:

    • Register to vote in the State of Florida.
    • Change your name. (You have the option of calling, e-mailing, faxing or submitting a written notice (you will need to provide your date of birth) about an address change. If the address change is from one county to another, the change must be made directly to the Supervisor of Elections in your new county of residence. Otherwise, you have to use a voter registration application.)
    • Register with a political party or change your party affiliation.
    • Update your signature.

    You may also use the Florida Voter Registration Application to:

    • Change of address. If you move within same county after you have registered to vote, you have the option of making the address change in person, by phone, by e-mail, by fax or by other written means (you will need to provide your date of birth). If the address change is from one county to another, you can also make the change in the same way provided you, you make the change directly to the Supervisor of Elections’ office for your new county of residence. Otherwise, you have to use the Florida Voter Registration Application to make an out-of-county address change. Mail the application to your Supervisor of Elections.
    • Replace your defaced, lost, or stolen voter information card.
  11. Do you have an online voter registration application?
  12. Yes, you may use our online voter registration application to apply to register to vote.

    You may complete the application online, print, sign, and mail the application to the office of your county supervisor of elections. The Florida Voter Registration Application requires an original signature.

  13. How can I find out if I am registered?
  14. You can find out your voter registration status online at the Division of Elections’ Voter Information Lookup. You can also contact your county Supervisor of Elections’ office. If you unable to find information or need further assistance, contact the Bureau of Voter Registration Services’ Voter Assistance Hotline (in English and Español) at toll-free 1-866-308-6739.

  15. I am in the military. What do I need to do to apply to register to vote?
  16. The Federal Voting Assistance Program provides the Federal Postcard Application for use by absent stateside and overseas uniformed and overseas civilian citizens. This form can be used as a voter registration application and a request for an absentee ballot at the same time. Contact the office of the county supervisor of elections where you would like to apply to register to vote to obtain additional information. You may also contact the Bureau of Voter Registration Services’ Voter Assistance Hotline (in English and Español) at toll-free 1-866-308-6739 regarding procedures for voter registration and procedures for absent uniformed services voters and overseas voters.

  17. What is the deadline to apply to register to vote?
  18. The registration books will be closed on the 29th day before each election and will remain closed until after that election. Those dates are listed on our website.

    There is a late registration deadline if you (or accompanying family member) have been discharged or separated from the Merchant Marines or armed forces, or from employment outside the territorial United States. You can still register up until 5 p.m. on the Friday before election in the Supervisor of Elections’ office. Contact your Supervisor of Elections for more information and to obtain the form you have to complete.

  19. I have just moved. Is there anything I need to do about my voter registration?
  20. Yes, your voter registration should always reflect your current residence address because you can only vote in the county of residence. If you move within same county after you have registered to vote, you have the option of making the address change in person, by phone, by e-mail, by fax or by other written means (you will need to provide your date of birth). If the address change is from one county to another, you can also make the change in the same way, but only if you make it directly to the Supervisor of Elections’ office for your new county of residence. Otherwise, you have to use the Florida Voter Registration Application to change your out-of-county address and submit the application to your Supervisor of Elections.

  21. Can I still vote if I am registered to vote but move from one Florida county to another?
  22. Yes it is possible. However, if you do not update your address before you try to vote at the polls, you will be allowed to vote a provisional ballot. You can vote a regular ballot only after making an address change at the polls and if the precinct at which you vote has an electronic poll book or if you are an active military personnel, provided you are in the precinct corresponding to your current legal residence and you are otherwise eligible to vote.

  23. I did not vote in the last election. Do I need to re-register to vote?
  24. Usually, you are registered to vote for as long as you remain at the same address and you should continue to receive election materials in the mail. However, if you have not voted in the last several elections, you may want to confirm that you are still registered. You may do this by using the Voter Information Lookup on the Division’s website or contact the office of your Supervisor of Elections to verify that you are still registered to vote.

  25. I have not received my voter information card. What do I need to do?
  26. Contact the office of your Supervisor of Elections where you applied to register to vote to inquire about your voter information card. If you do not receive your card within 2 weeks, contact the office.

  27. I need another voter information card. How do I get a new card?
  28. Contact the office of the county supervisor of elections where you are registered to vote to request a replacement voter information card or complete, sign, and mail-in a Florida Voter Registration Application.

  29. Is Florida a closed primary state?
  30. Yes. Florida is a closed primary state. Only voters who are registered members of political parties may vote for respective party candidates for an office in a primary election. That is why it is important to indicate your preferred party affiliation at the time you register. If you leave the field blank on the registration form, you will be registered without party affiliation.

    However, there are times when all registered voters can vote in a primary election, regardless of which major or minor political party they are registered or even if they are registered without a specific party affiliation:

    1. If all the candidates for an office have the same party affiliation and the winner of the primary election will not face any opposition in the general election (i.e. no write-in candidates have qualified), then all registered voters can vote for any of the candidates for that office in the primary election.
    2. If races for nonpartisan (i.e., free from party affiliation) judicial and school board offices, nonpartisan special districts or local referendum questions are on the primary election ballot, then all registered voters, including those without party affiliation are entitled to vote those races on the ballot.

    At a general election, all registered voters receive the same ballot and may vote for any candidate or question on the ballot. If there are write-in candidates who have qualified for a particular office, a space will be left on the ballot where their name can be written.

  31. How does a felon get voting rights restored?
  32. Contact the Florida Commission on Offender Review to obtain the required information.

  33. Why is the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles involved in voter registration?
  34. The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 permits persons conducting business with a driver license office to apply at the same time to register to vote or to update their voter registration information.

  35. Where can I find voter registration statistical information on the Internet?
  36. Voter registration statistical information is available on our website.

  37. What do I need to do if I move to another county in Florida?
  38. If you move to another county in Florida, you do not have to re-register in your new county if you are already registered, but you do need to update your address in order to vote in the new county. If you move within same county after you have registered to vote, you have the option of making the address change in person, by phone, by e-mail, by fax or by other written means (you will need to provide your date of birth). If the address change is from one county to another, you can also make the change in the same way but you must make it directly to the Supervisor of Elections for your new county of residence. Otherwise, you have to use the Florida Voter Registration Application to change your address. If you do not have time to make the out-of-county address change before you vote at the polls, you will be allowed to vote a provisional ballot. You must vote in the precinct of your current legal residence and be eligible to vote in order for your ballot to count. If you have any questions, you may want to contact your county Supervisor of Elections office.

  39. What do I need to do if I change my address in the same county where I am registered to vote?
  40. You will need to update your address information. By law, you can only vote in the precinct to which you have moved. Contact your county Supervisor of Elections office in person, by phone, by fax, by e-mail, by mail or by other written means. If you are temporarily living outside your home county and want to keep your registration in the county, you can do so but you will be assigned to the precinct that contains the main office of the supervisor of elections and you will not be able to vote in municipal elections.

  41. Can I make a name change, address change, party change or signature change after the registration deadline?
  42. Name change. You can make a name change at any time including after the registration deadline and at the polls on election day. However, in order to avoid delays at the polling place, you should update your name as soon as possible before going to vote.

    Address change. Any time you change your residence, you should update your address on record as soon as possible. It could affect your right to vote since you must vote in the precinct of your current legal residence. If you move within the same county after you have registered to vote, you have the option of making the address change in person, by phone, by e-mail, by fax or by other written means (you will need to provide your date of birth). If the address change is from one county to another, you can also make the change in the same way but you must make it directly to the Supervisor of Elections for your new county of residence. Otherwise, you have to use the Florida Voter Registration Application to change your address.

    If you do not have time to make the address change before you vote at the polls, you can still make the change at the polls and vote a regular ballot if the address change is within the same county, or if you are an active uniformed services voter (or a member of the family). Otherwise you will be allowed to vote a provisional ballot. If you have any questions, you may want to contact your county Supervisor of Elections office.

    Party changes. You can change your party affiliation at any time, but not at the polls. If you make a party change after the registration deadline for a primary election, it will not take effect until after the primary election.

    Signature update. You can update your signature at any time, but not at the polls. It is important to keep your signature on record current as a person’s signature changes over time and signatures on record are used to verify absentee and provisional ballot certificates. If a poll worker questions whether the signature on the identification you present is the same as the signature as you signed in at the polls, you will be asked to fill out a signature affidavit in order to vote a regular ballot.

  43. If I am a victim of violence, how can I register and still keep my address and other identifying information confidential?
  44. If you are a victim of actual or threatened domestic violence or stalking, you can register and vote without risking public disclosure of your address and other identifying information.

    First you must become a registered participant of the Attorney General’s Address Confidentiality Program (ACP). The ACP will give you a certificate/authorization form and a substitute address through which you can receive mail. To find out more details or how to apply, please contact the Division of Crime Victims’ Services for details at: 850-414-3330, refer to the Victim Services Directory in your area at: http://myfloridalegal.com/directory, and refer to Rule 2A-7, Florida Administrative Code.

    Second you must register to vote. Bring your ACP certificate/authorization form with you to your local Supervisor of Elections’ office. If you are a new applicant, your application will be processed manually in such a way that your voter registration information and record (which is otherwise public record) will not be disclosed or released to the public in any way. If you are already registered, your voter registration information and record will be removed from any publicly disclosed or available list. Only your Supervisor of Elections’ will know your true address in order to assign you to the proper precinct. Your absentee ballot will be sent to you using the substitute address that the ACP gave you. You do not go to the polls to vote.

Elections - Click on question to reveal answer.Back

  1. Where can I locate information on upcoming elections, including the Presidential Preference Primary?
  2. A General Election is held in November of every even-numbered year. The Primary Election for nominating party nominees for the General Election is 12 weeks before the General Election. Additionally, a Presidential Preference Primary is held no earlier than the first Tuesday in January and no later than the first Tuesday in March of Presidential Election years. Special elections may be called at any time during the year.  Election Dates can be found here: http://www.elections.myflorida.com/voting/voting-info.shtml

  3. Where can I find information about the Electoral College and how the President of the United States is actually elected?
  4. Visit this website: http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/electoral-college/. The site is maintained by the Office of the Federal Register, which coordinates the functions of the Electoral College on behalf of the Archivist of the United States, the States, the Congress, and the American People. The Office of the Federal Register operates as an intermediary between the governors and secretaries of state of the various States and the Congress. The website fully explains the history and operation of the Electoral College.

  5. How do I become a poll worker?
  6. Contact your supervisor of elections about becoming a poll worker. A poll worker is required to attend at least 2 hours of training (at least 3 hours if holding a higher position) prior to each election that he or she is serving. A poll worker is paid. As a poll worker you must be a registered qualified elector of the county in which you are serving. You must also be able to read and write the English language. Bi-lingual speakers (especially those who speak Spanish) are encouraged to apply and serve.

  7. Must a poll watcher be a registered voter?
  8. Yes. Each poll watcher must be a registered voter of the county in which he or she serves.

  9. May a candidate serve as a poll watcher?
  10. No candidate, sheriff, deputy sheriff, police officer or other law enforcement officer may serve as a poll watcher.

  11. What percentage comprises a win in the primary?
  12. The partisan candidate receiving the highest number of votes will be nominated. In nonpartisan races, if no candidate receives a majority of the votes, the top two candidates will be voted on in the general election.

  13. I want to vote in the primary. Do I have to be a Democrat or Republican?
  14. Since Florida is a closed primary state, only voters who are registered members of the respective political party’s candidates can vote for those candidate nominees in a primary election. Typically that would be either one of the two major political parties (Republicans and Democrats) but it can also include minor political parties if they have candidates for an office on the primary election ballot.

    All registered voters can vote in a primary election, regardless of which major or minor political party they are registered or even if they are registered without a specific party affiliation when:

    1. All the candidates for an office have the same party affiliation and the winner of the primary election will not face any opposition in the general election (i.e. no write-in candidates have qualified).
    2. The race is nonpartisan (i.e., prohibited from qualifying or campaigning based upon party affiliation) (e.g., judicial and school board offices, nonpartisan special districts or local referendum questions).

    At a general election, all registered voters receive the same ballot and may vote for any candidate or question on the ballot. If there are write-in candidates who have qualified for a particular office, a space will be left on the general election ballot where their name can be written.

  15. Are all judges retained in office by voting "for retention" or "against retention?"
  16. No. Justices of the Supreme Court and Judges of the District Courts of Appeal are subject to retention voting. Circuit judges and county judges are subject to election just like other candidates except where a local option has passed calling for selection of these judges by merit selection and retention voting. (Sections 105.041(2), 105.051(2), F.S., and Article V, Section 10, Florida Constitution) At the present time, all circuit judges and county court judges are elected.

Voting - Click on question to reveal answer.Back

  1. What times are the polls open on election day?
  2. Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. on election day. Any voter who is standing in line at 7 p.m. is still eligible to cast a vote.

  3. What kind of identification do I need to bring to the polls?
  4. When you go to the polling place to vote, you will be asked to provide a current and valid picture identification with a signature. Approved forms of picture identification are: Florida driver's license; Florida identification card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles; United States passport; debit or credit card; military identification; student identification; retirement center identification; neighborhood association identification; and public assistance identification. (Section 101.043, F.S.) If the picture identification does not contain a signature, you will be asked to provide an additional identification with your signature.

  5. Can I still vote if I do not bring identification?
  6. Yes. You should not be turned away from the polls because you do not bring identification. If you do not have the proper identification, you will be allowed to vote a provisional ballot.

  7. What happens if someone challenges my eligibility to vote at the polls?
    • If you are challenged on the basis that your legal residential address is not within the precinct, you will still have an opportunity to vote. You will be allowed to vote a regular ballot if your new address is within the same county and your new address places you in the same precinct. You will have to fill out an address change update first. If your new address places you outside the precinct where you were challenged, the poll worker will direct you to the proper precinct. If you have moved in from another county, you will be allowed to vote a provisional ballot unless the precinct to which you have moved has an electronic poll book or you are an active military member. If you do not execute the address change or you insist on voting in the precinct that does not correspond to your address, you will allowed to vote a provisional ballot but your ballot may not count.
    • If you are challenged on any other grounds of your eligibility, you will be allowed to vote a provisional ballot.
  8. What else do I have to do if I vote a provisional ballot?
  9. You will be provided a written notice of your rights as a provisional ballot voter. (Section 101.048, F.S.) You have the right to present further evidence of your eligibility if you want up to 2 days after the election. Depending on the reason why you voted a provisional ballot, there may no further need in order for your provisional ballot to count:

    If the reason you voted a provisional ballot is solely because you did not provide an acceptable photo and signature identification at the polls, you do not need to provide any further evidence of your eligibility in order for your ballot to count. The local canvassing board will simply compare your signature on the provisional ballot certificate with the signature on your voter registration record. If the signatures match, your provisional ballot will be counted.

    If you vote a provisional ballot for other reasons (for example, your eligibility is challenged by another person, you are in the wrong precinct when you vote, you do not appear on the precinct register, etc.), you have the opportunity to bring in evidence to your respective supervisor of elections no later than 5 p.m., of the second day following the election. (Section 101.048, F.S.) The local canvassing board will examine your provisional ballot certificate, and any and all other information and evidence, if anything is available. The board must count your provisional ballot unless the board determines, based on preponderance of the evidence, that you are not entitled to vote.

  10. How do I find out if my provisional ballot was counted?
  11. You will be given a Notice of Rights which will include instructions on how to find out if your provisional ballot was counted, and if not, the reason(s) why, will be contained in your notice of rights handed to you at the time that you vote a provisional ballot. Information as to whether your provisional ballot was counted or not must be made available no later than 30 days following the election. (Sections 101.048(5)-(6), F.S.)

  12. How do I request an absentee ballot?
  13. First, assuming you are already registered, you must request an absentee ballot. Refer to the answer to the question "How do I request an absentee ballot?" Once your request is on record, you will receive an absentee ballot either for a particular election you requested or for all elections that fall within the period of the date of your request and through the next regularly scheduled general election. You will only receive the absentee ballot in those elections for which you are qualified to vote.

    For requests already on record by military voters (including spouse and dependent children) absent from their county of residence and overseas civilian voters, the supervisor of elections must send the absentee ballot no later than 45 days before each election.

    For absentee ballot requests already on record by all other voters, the supervisor of elections must send out absentee ballots between the 35th and the 28th day before an election.

    If you want to pick-up or have your absentee delivered to you personally, you can do so once the ballots are printed and available including up to 7 p.m. on Election Day. This assumes you are eligible to vote in the upcoming eligible. You will need to have an ID. You have the option to designate someone to pick-up the ballot for you but the earliest that a designee can pick your ballot up is 5 days before Election Day. A designee is limited to picking up 2 absentee ballots per election (not including his or her own ballot and ballots for members of his or her immediate family). The designee also has to submit a completed Affidavit to Pick-up an Absentee Ballot for a Voter, which includes the written authorization from the voter and your written request for an absentee ballot if not already on file. If you or your designee pick-up or ask that an absentee ballot be delivered on Election Day, you will have to complete the Election Day Absentee Ballot Delivery Affidavit to affirm that you have an emergency that keeps you from being able to go to your assigned polling place to vote.

    When you receive your ballot, follow the ballot instructions carefully to ensure that your ballot is properly completed, returned timely and counted. An absentee ballot must be received by the county supervisor of elections of the county of registration no later than 7 p.m. on election day. In presidential preference primary and general elections only, overseas voters have up an additional 10 days after the election for the ballot to be received by the supervisor of elections, provided the ballot is postmarked or dated no later than the date of the election.

    Be sure that your signature on your voter registration record is current because if your signature on record does not match the signature on the absentee ballot certificate, your ballot will not be counted.

  14. How do I vote absentee?
  15. Assuming you are already registered, you must submit a request for an absentee ballot. Refer to the answer to the question "How do I request an absentee ballot?" Once your request is on record, you will receive an absentee ballot either for a particular election you requested or for all elections that fall within the period of the date of your request and through the next regularly scheduled general election. You will only receive the absentee ballot in those elections for which you are qualified to vote.

    For requests already on record by military voters (including spouse and dependent children) absent from their county of residence and overseas civilian voters, the supervisor of elections must send the absentee ballot no later than 45 days before each election.

    For absentee ballot requests already on record by all other voters, the supervisor of elections must send out absentee ballots between the 35th and the 28th day before an election.

    When you receive your ballot, follow the ballot instructions carefully to ensure that your ballot is properly completed, returned timely and counted. An absentee ballot must be received by the county supervisor of elections of the county of registration no later than 7 p.m. on election day.

    Be sure that your signature on your voter registration record is current because if your signature on record does not match the signature on the absentee ballot certificate, your ballot will not be counted.

  16. How can I find out about my absentee ballot request or absentee ballot?
  17. You can track online your absentee ballot request and absentee ballot. Go to your county Supervisor of Elections’ website or through the Division of Elections Voter Information Lookup to your county portal that will link you to your absentee ballot information.

  18. I have requested an absentee ballot and now I have changed my mind and want to vote at the polls. May I?
  19. Yes. If you received your absentee ballot, you should return it, whether voted or not, to the poll workers on Election Day. Your absentee ballot will be voided and you will be allowed to vote a regular ballot at the polls. Even if you come to the polls without your absentee ballot, you will still be able to vote a regular ballot if the supervisor of elections’ office is able to confirm that it has not received your absentee ballot.

    However, if it is confirmed that your absentee ballot has been received, you cannot vote a regular ballot at the polls. If you think the supervisor of elections’ office is wrong about receiving your absentee ballot or if the supervisor of elections’ office is unable to confirm whether or not it has received your absentee ballot, you will be allowed to vote a provisional ballot.

  20. Does Florida allow early voting?
  21. Yes. Florida has allowed early voting throughout the state since 2004. Early voting is defined as "casting a ballot prior to election day at a location designated by the supervisor of elections and depositing the voted ballot in the tabulation system".

    For all elections in which there is a state or federal office race, early voting is required. Early voting, at a minimum, must begin on the 10th day before an election that contains state or federal races and end on the 3rd day before the election, and shall be provided for no less than 8 hours and no more than 12 hours per day at each site during the applicable period. In addition, early voting may be offered at the discretion of the supervisor of elections on the 15th, 14th, 13th, 12th, 11th, or 2nd day before an election that contains state or federal races for at least 8 hours per day, but not more than 12 hours per day. Supervisors of Elections designate early voting sites 30 days prior to an election.

    The supervisor of elections may provide early voting for elections that are not held in conjunction with a state or federal election. However, the supervisor has the discretion to determine the hours of operation of early voting sites in those elections. Please contact your Supervisor of Elections for dates, times and location. Voters who want to vote early should remember to bring a photo and signature identification with them.

  22. Can I vote if I am a lawful permanent resident?
  23. No. Only U.S. citizens can register or vote in Florida. To be a U.S. citizen, you must be born in the United States or certain U.S. territories, be born to U.S. citizen parents, or be naturalized. Although a lawful permanent resident (commonly referred to as a “green card holder”) has the right to live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis, he or she cannot register or vote.

  24. Can I vote if I have dual citizenship?
  25. Yes as long as you have U.S. citizenship and are otherwise properly registered, you can vote.

  26. If I am a victim of violence, how can I vote and still keep my address and other identifying information confidential?
  27. If you are a victim of actual or threatened domestic violence or stalking, you can register and vote without risking public disclosure of your address and other identifying information.

    First you must become a registered participant of the Attorney General’s Address Confidentiality Program (ACP). The ACP will give you a certificate/authorization form and a substitute address through which you can receive mail. To find out more details or how to apply, please contact the Division of Crime Victims’ Services for details at: 850-414-3330, refer to the Victim Services Directory in your area at: http://myfloridalegal.com/directory, and refer to Rule 2A-7, Florida Administrative Code.

    Second you must register to vote. Bring your ACP certificate/authorization form with you to your local Supervisor of Elections’ office. If you are a new applicant, your application will be processed manually in such a way that your voter registration information and record (which is otherwise public record) will not be disclosed or released to the public in any way. If you are already registered, your voter registration information and record will be removed from any publicly disclosed or available list. Only your Supervisor of Elections’ will know your true address in order to assign you to the proper precinct. Your absentee ballot will be sent to you using the substitute address that the ACP gave you. You do not go to the polls to vote.

Initiative Petition Process-

See Initiative Petition Process

Candidates - Click on question to reveal answer.Back

  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 DE 94-04).

    (The United States Constitution and The Constitution of the State of Florida)

  2. If I want to be a no party affiliation candidate, can I still be registered to vote as a Republican or Democrat?
  3. 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.)

  4. Do I have to designate a campaign treasurer and depository before I make public my intention to run for office?
  5. 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.)

  6. What if I want to change my campaign treasurer or other officers?
  7. 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.

  8. 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 at www.flcourts.org.

    • 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.

  9. Can a judicial candidate speak at a political party function?
  10. 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.) For other opinions from the Judicial Ethics Advisory Opinions regarding election matters, see: http://www.jud6.org/LegalCommunity/LegalPractice/opinions/jeacopinions/jeac.html

  11. I am a county court judge candidate. Where do I file and qualify?
  12. 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.)

  13. When can I start collecting signatures to qualify as a petition candidate?
  14. 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.

Campaign Advertising - Click on question to reveal answer.Back

  1. What information must be included on a political disclaimer?
    • Any political advertisement that is paid for by a candidate (except a write-in candidate) and that is published, displayed, or circulated before, or on the day of, any election must prominently state:

      "Political advertisement paid for and approved by (name of candidate), (party affiliation) for (office sought)" or "Paid by (name of candidate), (party affiliation), for (office sought)."

    • Disclaimer for Write-in Candidates

      Any political advertisement that is paid for by a write-in candidate and that is published, or circulated before, or on the day of, any election must prominently state:

      "Political advertisement paid for and approved by…(name of candidate)…, write-in candidate, for… (office sought)…"; or "Paid by…(name of candidate)…, write-in candidate, for…(office sought)…"

    • If the candidate for partisan office is running as a candidate with no party affiliation:

      Any advertisement of the candidate must state that the candidate has no party affiliation.

    • Independent Expenditure Disclaimers

      Any political advertisement paid for by an independent expenditure shall prominently state “Paid political advertisement paid for by (name and address or person paying for advertisement) independently of any (candidate or committee).”

      Any person who makes an independent expenditure for a political advertisement shall provide a written statement that no candidate has approved the advertisement to the newspaper, radio station, television station, or other medium for each such advertisement submitted for publication, display, broadcast, or other distribution. The advertisement must also contain a statement that no candidate has approved the advertisement. This paragraph does not apply to campaign messages used by a candidate and his or her supporters if those messages are designed to be worn by a person.

    • Disclaimers for Other Than Independent Expenditures

      Any political advertisement, not paid for by a candidate, including those paid for by a political party or affiliated party committee, other than an independent expenditure, offered on behalf of a candidate must be approved in advance by the candidate. Such political advertisement must expressly state that the content of the advertisement was approved by the candidate and must state who paid for the advertisement.

    (For more disclaimer examples and exceptions from the disclaimer requirement, especially for technology-based advertising, see Candidate and Committee Handbooks located at : https://election.dos.state.fl.us/publications/publications.shtml)

  2. Can my political ad say "re-elect" if I'm not the incumbent?
  3. If a candidate is not the incumbent for the office being sought, the word "re-elect" may not be used and the word "for" must be placed between the name of the candidate and the office sought. (Section 106.143(6), F.S.)

  4. What is an electioneering communication?
  5. Electioneering communication means any communication publicly distributed by a television station, radio station, cable television system, satellite system, newspaper, magazine, direct mail, or telephone that:

    1. Refers to or depicts a clearly identified candidate for office without expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate but that is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate;
    2. Is made within 30 days before a primary or special primary election or 60 days before any other election for the office sought by the candidate; and
    3. Is targeted to the relevant electorate in the geographical area the candidate would represent if elected.

    (Section 106.011(18), F.S.). For exceptions to the above definition, see the Electioneering Communications Handbook at https://election.dos.state.fl.us/publications/publications.shtml).

  6. Do electioneering communications need disclaimers?
  7. Yes. The disclaimer must read:

    "Paid electioneering communication paid for by (name and address of person paying for the communication)" (Section 106.1439, F.S.)

  8. Do I have to report expenditures for electioneering communications?
  9. Yes. If the expenditure is not otherwise required to reported by Chapter 106, F.S., it must be reported if the expenditure was $5000 or more. It is reported in the same manner, at the same time and subject to the same penalties as are political committee expenditures. (Section 106.071(1), F.S.) If the expenditure is made by an electioneering communication organization, the reporting requirements are located in Section 106.0703, F.S.

Campaign Financing - Click on question to reveal answer.Back

  1. Do candidates for precinct committeeperson have to file campaign reports and comply with Chapter 106, F.S.?
  2. Only if such candidates receive a contribution or make an expenditure.  An individual seeking a publicly elected position on a political party executive committee who receives a contribution or makes an expenditure shall file a report of all contributions received and all expenditures made. The report shall be filed by 5 p.m. with the supervisor of elections on the 4th day immediately preceding the primary election. (Section 106.0702, F.S.)

  3. May a candidate appoint himself or herself as campaign treasurer?
  4. Yes. (Section 106.021(1)(c), F.S.)

  5. How many deputy treasurers may a candidate or political committee have?
  6. Candidates for statewide office may appoint up to 15 deputy treasurers. Other candidates and political committees may appoint up to 3 deputy treasurers. (Section 106.021(1)(a), F.S.)

  7. Can a deputy treasurer file and submit campaign reports?
  8. Yes. A deputy treasurer may perform all of the duties of a campaign treasurer when specifically authorized to do so by the campaign treasurer in the case of a candidate, or the campaign treasurer and chairperson in the case of a political committee. (Section 106.021(4), F.S.)

  9. Who is responsible for keeping tabs on aggregate totals of campaign contributions?
  10. The campaign treasurer is responsible for receiving and reporting all contributions. (Section 106.06, F.S.)

  11. May a candidate accept a contribution from a trust fund?
  12. Yes. Chapter 106, F.S., defines a "person" as an individual, corporation, association, firm, partnership, joint venture, joint stock company, club, organization, estate, trust, business trust, syndicate, or other combination of individuals having collective capacity. The term also includes a political party, affiliated party committee, or political committee. (Section 106.011(14), F.S.)

  13. Do I have to itemize small contributions of $5, $10, $50, etc.?
  14. Yes. The law provides no exceptions for the reporting of contribution information, regardless of the size of the contribution. The full name and address of the contributor are also required. (Section 106.07(4)(a), F.S.)

  15. Are in-kind contributions subject to the same limitations as monetary contributions?
  16. Yes. In Chapter 106, F.S., the definition of a "contribution" includes contributions in-kind having an attributable monetary value in any form. Therefore, in-kind contributions are subject to the same limitations set for monetary contributions. (Section 106.011(5) and 106.08, F.S.)

  17. How is the value of an in-kind contribution determined?
  18. The contributor must inform the person receiving the contribution of the fair market value at the time it is given. (Section 106.055, F.S.)

  19. Can a corporation give to a candidate, political committee or political party?
  20. Yes. A corporation is within the definition of a "person" in Chapter 106, F.S. (Section 106.011(14), F.S.)

  21. Would a corporation have to file as a political committee if it contributes to a candidate or other political committee?
  22. Corporations regulated by chapters 607 or 617, F.S., and other business entities formed for purposes other than to support or oppose issues or candidates are exempt from the definition of a "political committee" as long as their political activities are limited to contributions to candidates or political committees, or expenditures in support of or in opposition to an issue, from corporate or business funds. Corporations and other business entities remove themselves from this exemption if they solicit or receive contributions outside their corporate or business funds for political purposes. (Section 106.011(16), F.S.)

  23. I am opposed in the general election, but I have no opposition in the primary election, therefore, my name will not be on the primary election ballot. Must I abide by the prohibition on accepting contributions less than five days prior to the primary election?
  24. No. Only candidates opposed in the primary election are required to comply. However, since you are opposed and your name will appear on the general election ballot, you are required to abide by the prohibition on accepting contributions less than 5 days prior to the general election. (Section 106.08(3), F.S.)

  25. I was given cash at a rally and have no information on who it is from? What do I do?
  26. Report this contribution on your campaign report as an anonymous contribution but do not spend these funds on the campaign. After the campaign is over, dispose of the funds pursuant to Section 106.141, F.S. (DEO 89-02)

  27. As a candidate, what can I do with leftover campaign funds?
  28. If you filed an oath stating you were unable to pay the fee for the verification of petition signatures without imposing an undue burden on your personal resources or on resources otherwise available to you, you must first reimburse the state or local government entity, whichever is applicable,. (Section 106.141(7), F.S.)

    You may disburse of funds by any of the following means or a combination thereof:

    • return pro rata to each contributor;
    • donate to a charitable organization or organizations that meet the qualifications of s. 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code;
    • give not more than $25,000 to the affiliated party committee or political party of which the candidate is a member;
    • in the case of a candidate for state office, give the funds to the state to be deposited in the General Revenue Fund; or
    • in the case of a candidate for an office of a political subdivision, to such political subdivision to be deposited in the general fund thereof. (Section 106.141(4)(a), F.S.)

    Candidates who have received contributions for public campaign financing shall return all surplus funds to the state. (Section 106.141(4)(b), F.S.)

    A candidate elected to state office or a candidate who will be elected to state office by virtue of his or her being unopposed after candidate qualifying ends, may retain up to $20,000 in his or her campaign account, or in an interest-bearing account or certificate of deposit, for use in his or her next campaign for the same office.  (Section 106.141(4)(c), F.S.)

    In addition to the methods listed above, a candidate elected to office (or will be elected by virtue of being unopposed) may transfer funds from the campaign account to an office account to be used only for legitimate expenses in connection with the candidate's public office. The amount which can be transferred is limited by law.  (Section 106.141(5), F.S.)

  29. Can I combine my leftover campaign funds with a legislative account?
  30. No. The office account must be separate from any other account (including a legislative account). (Section 106.141, F.S.)

  31. I am an elected official and still have funds in my office account. I am now beginning my re-election campaign. May I place the surplus funds in the office account into my campaign account for re-election?
  32. No. Funds retained by elected officials in their office accounts may only be used for legitimate expenses in connection with their public office. (Section 106.141(5), F.S.)

  33. Do I have to file campaign reports on the Electronic Filing System (EFS)?
  34. If the Division of Elections is your filing officer, you are required to file all campaign reports via the EFS. If your filing officer is other than the Division of Elections, you must contact their office to find out their requirements. (Section 106.0705, F.S.)

  35. If my treasurer is out of town, can I have an extension to file my report?
  36. No. The election laws do not provide for an extension under these circumstances. (Sections 106.07(2)(b) and (3), F.S.)

  37. If I make a mistake on my report can I go back in and correct it on the EFS?
  38. Once the report is submitted to the Division of Elections, the EFS will not permit you to go back and make changes. In order to correct mistakes or add and delete information, you must submit an "amendment."

  39. If I am late submitting my report, how is my fine calculated?
  40. Candidates, political committees, electioneering communication organizations and independent expenditures: $50 per day for the first 3 days late and, thereafter, $500 per day for each late day, not to exceed 25% of the total receipts or expenditures, whichever is greater for the period covered by the late report. However, for reports immediately preceding the primary and general election, the fine shall be $500 per day for each day, not to exceed 25% of the total receipts or expenditures, whichever is greater, for the period covered by the late report.

    State and county executive committees: $1,000 for a state executive committee and $50 for a county executive committee per day for each late day, not to exceed 25% of the total receipts or expenditures, whichever is greater, for the period covered by the late report. However, if an executive committee fails to file a report on the Friday immediately preceding the general election, the fine is $10,000 per day for each late day a state executive committee is late and $500 per day for each day a county executive committee is late.

  41. How long are campaign records kept at the Division of Elections or the Supervisor of Elections Offices?
  42. Ten years from the date of receipt. (Sections 98.015(5) and 106.22(4), F.S.)

Political Committee - Click on question to reveal answer.Back

  1. When do I need to file as a political committee?
  2. A combination of two or more individuals, or a person other than an individual (e.g., a club or organization) must file as a political committee and submit campaign reports when during a calendar year, in access of $500 aggregate, they:

    • Accept contributions or make expenditures to expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate or issue;
    • Accepts contributions for the purpose of contributing to any candidate, political committee, affiliated party committee, or political party; or
    • Sponsor a proposed constitutional amendment by initiative and intend to seek signatures of registered electors. (Section 106.011(16), F.S.)
  3. Where do I file as a committee?
  4. Division of Elections
    • Political committees supporting or opposing statewide, legislative or multicounty candidates or issues;
    • Political committees that would otherwise be required to file in two or more locations by reason of the committee's intention to support or oppose candidates or issues at state or multicounty and local levels; and
    Supervisor of Elections
    • Political committees supporting or opposing countywide or less than countywide candidates or issues (except municipal).
    Municipal Clerk
    • Political committees supporting or opposing municipal candidates or issues.

    (Sections 106.03, F.S.)

  5. As a Political Party (e.g., Republican or Democratic) Club, am I required to file as a political committee?
  6. A political party "club" is not considered a “political party executive committee;” however, if the club satisfies the definition of a “political committee” in Section 106.011(16), F.S., e.g., receives contributions or makes expenditures in excess of $500 in the aggregate per calendar year for the purpose of expressly advocating the election or defeat of a candidate or making contributions to candidates, the club is required to file and report as a political committee.

  7. If I give a contribution to a Florida congressional candidate, do I have to file as a committee?
  8. No, but it is recommended that you contact the Federal Election Commission in Washington, DC at 1-800-424-9530 for information regarding contributions to federal candidates.

  9. How much money can I give to a political committee?
  10. No limit exists on the amount that can be contributed to a political committee.

  11. What if my political committee wants to change the campaign treasurer or other officers?
  12. Political Committees:

    File a reappointment of campaign treasurer (Form DS-DE 6) with the filing officer along with a copy of the letter of resignation or removal. To change the chairperson, a notice in writing is sufficient. (Section 106.021(2), F.S.)

  13. I want to close my committee. What do I need to do?
  14. Notify the filing officer in writing as soon as possible. (Section 106.03(5), F.S.)

  15. What can my political committee do with leftover funds?
  16. The political committee must disburse the funds in the manner that the committee indicated it would dispose of residual funds on the Statement of Organization of Political Committee (Form DS-DE 5), which is on file with the filing officer.

Resign-to-Run - Click on question to reveal answer.Back

  1. Where is the “resign-to-run” law located?
  2. The “resign-to-run” law is in section 99.012, Florida Statutes.

  3. What does the “resign-to-run” law state?
  4. The “resign-to-run law” essentially prohibits an elected or appointed “officer” from qualifying as a candidate for another state, district, county or municipal public office if the terms or any part of the terms overlap with each other if the person did not resign from the office the person presently holds. (Section 99.012(3), Florida Statutes.)

  5. Are there any exceptions to the “resign-to-run” law?
  6. Yes. The “resign-to-run” law does not apply to 1) political party offices, or 2) persons serving without salary on an appointed board or authority. (Section 99.012(6), Florida Statutes.) See the response to Question 11, below, concerning exemptions to the “resign-to-run” law. Also, portions of the “resign-to-run” law do not apply to federal officers, persons seeking the office of President or Vice President, or candidates for federal office. (See the responses to Questions 15, 16, and 17 below.)

  7. Who is an “officer” for purposes of the “resign-to-run” law?
  8. An “officer” is a person, whether elected or appointed, who has the authority to exercise the sovereign powers of the state pertaining to an office recognized under the State Constitution or laws of the state. With respect to a municipality, an “officer” means a person, whether elected or appointed, who has the authority to exercise municipal power as provided by the State Constitution, state laws, or municipal charter. (Section 99.012(1), Florida Statutes.)

    Florida case law further explains that an “officer” is one who exercises some portion of the sovereign power, either in making, executing or administering the laws and who derives his or her position from a duly and legally authorized election or appointment, whose duties are continuous in nature and defined by law, not contract.

    Examples of “officers” include, but are not limited to: mayors, city and county commissioners, state legislators, supervisors of elections, sheriffs, property appraisers, judges, school board members, superintendents of school, state attorneys and public defenders, municipal fire chiefs, medical examiners, and elected hospital board and airport authority members.

  9. If an officer must resign under the “resign-to-run” law, when must the officer resign and when must the resignation take effect?
  10. The resignation must be submitted in writing at least 10 days prior to the first day of qualifying for the office the person intends to seek. (Section 99.012(3)(c), Florida Statutes.) (The qualifying dates for elections to particular offices can be obtained from the county supervisor of elections office.)

    The resignation must take effect no later than the earlier of the following dates:

    1. The date the officer would take office, if elected; or
    2. The date the officer’s successor is required to take office.

    (Section 99.012(3)(d), Florida Statutes.)

  11. I am a school board member and I will not seek re-election at the next general election; instead, I wish to qualify to run for state representative. Do I have to submit a resignation under the resign-to-run law?
  12. Yes. Section 100.041, Florida Statutes, reflects that the term of office of a state representative begins upon election for a term of two years and the term of office for a school board member begins on the second Tuesday following the general election for a term of four years. Therefore, your term as a school board member, if elected as a state representative, will not expire until two weeks after you take office as a state representative. This two week overlap requires you to submit a resignation under the resign-to-run law at least 10 days prior to qualifying as a candidate as a state representative.

  13. What can an officer do if he or she missed the deadline for submitting the resignation 10 days prior to the beginning of the qualifying period?
  14. If the officer still wishes to run for office, the officer may submit his or her resignation to take effect immediately or to take effect on a date prior to qualifying for office. In this situation, the officer qualifies as a non-officeholder and the “resign-to-run” law does not apply. (Section 99.012(3)(g), Florida Statutes.)

  15. To whom must the resignation be submitted?
  16. For elected district, county, or municipal officers, the resignation must be submitted to the officer before whom he or she qualified for the office he or she holds, with a copy to the Governor and the Department of State.

    For appointed district, county, or municipal officers, the resignation must be submitted to the officer or authority which appointed him or her to the office he or she holds, with a copy to the Governor and the Department of State.

    All other officers must submit their resignations to the Governor with a copy to the Department of State.

    (Section 99.012(3)(e), Florida Statutes.)

  17. Can the officer later revoke the resignation?
  18. No, once submitted, the resignation is irrevocable.

    (Section 99.012(3)(b), Florida Statutes.)

  19. What happens to an elected officer’s term of office if he or she submits a resignation under the "resign-to-run" law?
  20. Except as noted in the next paragraph, when an elected official resigns, it creates a vacancy in office to be filled by election. The election is held to fill the office for the remaining unexpired term. So, if an officer had one year left in his or her four-year term of office on the effective date of his or her resignation, persons would qualify as a candidate for the office and, if elected, would serve the one year remaining in the former officer’s term.

    If the officer resigning under the “resign-to-run” law occupies an elective charter county office or elective municipal office, the vacancy created by the resignation may be filled for that portion of the remaining unexpired term in the manner specified by the county or municipal charter, as applicable.

    (Section 99.012(3)(f), Florida Statutes.)

  21. Does the "resign-to-run" law apply to subordinate officers, deputy sheriffs, or police officers?
  22. Generally no, but it will apply in a limited situation. A subordinate officer, deputy sheriff, or police officer is exempt from the resign-to-run law unless the person is seeking to qualify for a public office which is currently held by “an officer who has authority to appoint, employ, promote or otherwise supervise that person and who has qualified as a candidate for reelection to that office.” If the subordinate officer, deputy sheriff, or police officer must resign, the resignation must be effective upon qualifying for the office, not the later times specified above for an “officer.”

    So, a deputy sheriff wishing to run for sheriff against an incumbent sheriff would have to resign, but if the incumbent sheriff is not seeking reelection, the deputy sheriff would not have to resign. Also, if a deputy sheriff wishes to run for a non-sheriff office (for example, state representative or city council), he or she would not have to resign under the “resign-to-run” law.

    If a subordinate officer, deputy sheriff, or police officer must resign under this provision, he or she may not take an unpaid leave of absence instead of resigning. (The Legislature removed the alternative approach of taking an unpaid leave of absence from the statute in 2000.)

    Subordinate officers would include, among others: assistant public defenders, assistant state attorneys, and deputy supervisors of elections. (Section 99.012(4), Florida Statutes; see also, for example, Division of Elections advisory opinions DE 08-04, DE 07-08, and 99-01, which can be found at http://election.dos.state.fl.us/opinions/TOC_Opinions.shtml.)

  23. Does a city’s Chief of Police have to resign in order to run for another public office?
  24. It depends. The exemption mentioned in the answer to Question 11 applies to a “police officer.” A “chief of police” is a police officer; therefore, the chief of police need only resign to run for public office if the chief is seeking to qualify for a public office which is currently held by "an officer who has authority to appoint, employ, promote or otherwise supervise that person and who has qualified as a candidate for reelection to that office." For example, a city’s chief of police would not have to resign to run for county sheriff unless the sheriff has the authority to appoint, employ, promote or otherwise supervise the chief of police and the incumbent sheriff has also qualified as a candidate for reelection. In the typical county-city relationship, the sheriff does not have the authority to appoint, employ, promote or otherwise supervise a city’s chief of police. However, for example, if a city mayor has the authority to hire and fire the chief of police, the chief of police could not run for city mayor without resigning as chief of police if the incumbent mayor is seeking re-election.

    (Section 99.012(4), Florida Statutes.)

  25. What happens if an officer does not comply with the “resign-to-run” law?
  26. If an order of a court that has become final determines that a person did not comply with the resign-to-run law, the person may not be qualified as a candidate for an election or appear on the ballot. (Section 99.012(5), Florida Statutes.) Note, however, that the filing officer performs only a ministerial function in reviewing qualifying papers and cannot determine whether the contents of the qualifying papers are accurate. (Section 99.061(7)(c), Florida Statutes.) One of the qualifying papers is the candidate oath in which the candidate states that he or she has resigned from any office from which the candidate is required to resign; therefore, the filing officer may not look beyond the oath. As stated above, it will take a court order to remove the person’s name from the ballot.

  27. May a person qualify to run for more than one office?
  28. No. Section 99.012(2), Florida Statutes, prohibits persons from qualifying for more than one federal, state, district, county, or municipal office if the terms or any part thereof run concurrently with each other. For example: a) a person may not qualify in Florida to run for more than more than one U.S. House of Representatives seat at a time; or b) a person may not qualify for both a state office and a county office if the terms or any part of the two offices overlap.

  29. Does the “resign-to-run” law apply to federal officers?
  30. No, the “resign-to-run” portion of section 99.012, Florida Statutes, only applies to state, district, county and municipal officers. However, as stated in the answer to Question 14, section 99.012(2), Florida Statutes, prohibits persons from qualifying for more than one federal, state, district, county, or municipal office if the terms or any part thereof run concurrently with each other. Thus, a federal officer would not have to resign prior to qualifying for a state, district, county, or municipal office. For example, a U.S. Senator from Florida with two years left on his or her Senate term could qualify to run for Governor of Florida without resigning because the “resign-to-run” law does not apply to federal officers; however, the senator could not qualify for re-election to the U.S. Senate from Florida and also qualify for Governor of Florida because the terms of office would overlap.

  31. Does the “resign-to-run” law require a state, district, county, or municipal officer to resign before running for federal office?
  32. No. The “resign-to-run” law prohibits an officer from qualifying as a candidate for another state, district, county or municipal public office if the terms or any part overlap with each other unless the officer submits a resignation from the office the person presently holds. Therefore, the “resign-to-run” law would not preclude a sitting state, district, county, or municipal officer from qualifying as a candidate for federal office without resigning from the office the person presently holds as long as the officer is not also seeking to qualify for re-election to his or her present office.

  33. Does the “resign-to-run” law apply to persons seeking the office of President or Vice President of the United States?
  34. No. Subsection (7) of section 99.012 specifically states that nothing in subsection (3) of the “resign-to-run law” relates to persons seeking the office of President or Vice President. This conclusion could also be reached based upon applying the analysis in the response above to Question 16. However, the exception contained in subsection (7) has no bearing on the prohibition in subsection (2) of section 99.012 against qualifying for more than one office if the terms or any part thereof run concurrently with each other. (See response to question 14, above.)

  35. If a candidate does not have to resign from one office to run for another office, may he or she, if elected, continue to hold both offices?
  36. Even if the person could physically perform both jobs simultaneously, holding both offices may violate the constitutional prohibition of dual officeholding. Article II, section 5(a), of the Florida Constitution, provides in part:

    “No person shall hold at the same time more than one office under the government of the state and the counties and municipalities therein, except that a notary public or military officer may hold another office, and any officer may be a member of a constitution revision commission, constitutional convention, or statutory body having only advisory powers.”

    This constitutional provision prohibits a person from simultaneously holding more than one office under the government of the state, counties and municipalities. The prohibition applies to both elected and appointed offices. It is not necessary that the two offices be within the same governmental unit. Thus, for example, a municipal officer is precluded from holding not only another municipal office but also a state or county office.

    Although the Constitution does not define the terms "office" or "officer" for purposes of the dual officeholding prohibition, the Florida Supreme Court in State ex rel. Holloway v. Sheats, 83 So. 508, 509 (Fla. 1919), stated that it is the nature of the powers and duties of a particular position which determines whether it is an "office" or an "employment."

    The Department of State has no jurisdiction to interpret the dual officeholding provisions of the Constitution. Questions regarding dual officeholding should be directed to the Florida’s Office of the Attorney General, which has jurisdiction over the matter. You may find a dual officeholding informational pamphlet at the Attorney General’s website at: http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MRAY-6S3PP7/$file/dual.pdf

  37. What’s the difference in the treatment of district officers under the resign-to-run law and the dual officeholding constitutional provision?
  38. The Attorney General has opined that district offices are not within the purview of the dual officeholding provisions of the Constitution. However, district offices, by express statutory provision, are subject to the provisions of the “resign-to-run” law. For example, an elected state or county officer may be appointed also to a district office. However, if the state or county officer later seeks reelection to the state or county office while occupying the district office, he or she would have to submit a resignation under the “resign-to-run” law from the district office before qualifying and running for reelection if the terms of office overlap, unless the district office consists of being a member on an appointed board or authority and the county or state officer receives no salary for being on the board or authority.

  39. How does the “resign-to-run” law relate to the “Hatch Act?”
  40. The state resign-to-run law is entirely separate from the federal “Hatch Act.” The federal Hatch Act (5 U.S.C. §§ 1501- 1508) applies to executive branch state and local employees who are principally employed in connection with programs financed in whole or in part by loans or grants made by the United States or a federal agency.

    The Hatch Act prohibits a state, county, or municipal employee from being a candidate for public office in a partisan race if the employee’s salary is completely funded with federal dollars. It is only when the covered employee’s entire salary is paid from federal funds that the employee would have to resign under the Hatch Act before becoming a candidate for partisan office; however, an employee’s conduct is also subject to the laws of the state and the regulations of the employing agency, so the employee should check with his or her supervisor, personnel office, or the agency’s general counsel to determine what state or local law or agency rules or policies may apply regarding the employee’s political activities. (A partisan election means one in which any candidate will be listed on the ballot as a candidate for a political party, for example, the Republican or Democratic Party.)

    Governors, Lieutenant Governors, mayors, elected heads of executive departments, and individuals holding elective office are specifically exempt from the Hatch Act prohibition against being a candidate for public office. So, the Hatch Act prohibits state, county and municipal employees seeking public office in a partisan election, not an elected officer seeking re-election or election to another office.

    Questions about the Hatch Act may be directed to:

    Hatch Act Unit
    U.S. Office of Special Counsel
    1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 218
    Washington, D.C. 20036-4505
    Tel: (800) 85-HATCH or (800) 854-2824
    (202) 254-3650
    Website: http://www.osc.gov/hatchact.htm
    Requests for Hatch Act advisory opinions may be made by e-mail to: hatchact@osc.gov

  41. Who can I contact about questions concerning Florida’s “resign-to-run” law?
  42. Office of General Counsel
    Florida Department of State
    R.A. Gray Building
    500 S. Bronough Street
    Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0250
    Telephone: (850) 245-6536; or email: DOS.GeneralCounsel@DOS.MyFlorida.com

Minor Political Parties - Click on question to reveal answer.Back

  1. What is a minor political party?
  2. 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)

  3. Who can become a minor political party in Florida?
  4. 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)

  5. How does a group become registered as a minor political party in Florida?
  6. 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.

  7. Is there a special form or format for a group to request recognition as a minor political party?
  8. 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)

    ** Note: 

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. To ensure the application as a minor political party satisfies the statutory requirements, use the Minor Political Party Checklist.
  9. Are there any statutory requirements that must be contained in the party’s constitution, bylaws, rules, or regulations?
  10. 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)

  11. Does the party have to submit anything else to the Division of Elections after the Division approves its registration?
  12. 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)

  13. Are there restrictions on how a political party can use its contributions?
  14. 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)

  15. If the party’s officers, executive committee members, or its constitution or bylaws change, does the party have to notify the Division of Elections?
  16. 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)

  17. Who is responsible for advertising that the minor political party is a political party operating in Florida?
  18. 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 (http://election.dos.state.fl.us/candidate/parties.shtml); 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 webpage at:  http://election.dos.state.fl.us/voter-registration/third-party.shtml.

  19. Do candidates who qualify as candidates from a minor political party pay a party assessment?
  20. 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.

  21. Will minor political party candidates appear on primary election ballots?
  22. 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.

  23. How does a minor political party terminate its status as a minor political party?
  24. 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.

  25. Can the party’s status as a political party be terminated involuntarily?
  26. 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)

  27. If I have questions, who do I contact about becoming a minor political party?
  28. 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.