Frequently Asked Questions - 2012 Candidate Filing



Where can I get the forms required to run for office in 2012?

Candidate nomination paperwork must be obtained and filed at the candidate's local county elections office for the following offices:


The California Secretary of State and county elections officials do not supply forms for the independent nomination of Presidential Elector or for presidential write-in candidates; however, you may email elections@sos.ca.gov to request samples of suggested formats.

Candidates for local offices such as city council and school board can get forms from their city or county elections offices.

Are candidate filing forms available online?

No, all forms must be issued by a candidate's local county elections office, which maintains the candidate’s voter registration record.

What is the fee for filing to run for office?

There is no filing fee for U.S. Presidential candidates or people running as write-in candidates for any office.

The filing fee for U.S. Senator is determined by calculating two percent of the office's annual salary. For U.S. Senator, the filing fee is $3,480.

The filing fee for U.S. Representative, State Senator and Member of the State Assembly is determined by calculating one percent of the office's annual salary. For U.S. Representative, the filing fee is $1,740. For State Senator and Member of the State Assembly, the filing fee is $952.91.

Any candidate can reduce or eliminate the filing cost by submitting petition signatures in lieu of the filing fee (see "How many in-lieu signatures do I need…?" below).

How many in-lieu signatures do I need to submit if I want to avoid the filing fee?

Any candidate can reduce or eliminate the filing cost by submitting petition signatures instead of all or part of the filing fee. The number of signatures needed varies by political office. For more details about filing fees and the relative value of each in-lieu signature, see Qualifications for Running for Office.

How many nomination petition signatures do I need to submit?

Each candidate running for U.S. Senator must obtain 65 to 100 nomination petition signatures. Each candidate for U.S. Representative, State Senator and State Assembly must obtain 40 to 60 nomination petition signatures.

Who is allowed to circulate nomination petitions or signatures-in-lieu petitions?

A person collecting candidate petition signatures must be a voter in the political district where the candidate is running for office.

Who is allowed to sign nomination petitions or signatures-in-lieu petitions?

A person who signs a candidate petition must be a voter in the political district where the candidate is running for office, and can only sign for one candidate for that office.

Any voter can sign a petition for a voter-nominated office. Signers for presidential candidates must be registered with the same political party as the candidate.

When are candidate documents and filing fees due?

Deadlines for candidate filings and fees vary depending on the office sought and type of candidate, so ask your county elections official. The California Secretary of State also offers detailed online calendars for each upcoming election.

Where can I file my candidate documents?

Every candidate, except write-in candidates for U.S. President, must obtain and file all candidate documents at the candidate's local county elections office.

A presidential write-in candidate must obtain paperwork at the candidate's local county elections office but must file the paperwork at the California Secretary of State's office.

Can independent candidates run in the November General Election?

No. The Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act allows all candidates, including candidates who would have used the former independent nomination process, to run for a voter-nominated office in a primary election. All primary candidates for an office are listed on a single ballot, and only the two candidates who get the most votes in the primary election will move on to the general election.

The Top Two Candidates Open Primary Act does not affect candidates running for U.S. President.

How long do I need to live in the district where I intend to run for office?

For U.S. Senate and U.S. Representative, a candidate must only be a resident of California when elected.

For State Senate and State Assembly, a candidate must be qualified to vote for the office at the time nomination papers are issued. For example, a person running for State Senate District 1 must be eligible to vote for State Senate District 1 at the time he or she obtains nomination papers from the county elections office.

Where do I file a candidate statement that will appear in voter materials?

U.S. Senate candidates who wish to publish a candidate statement in the state voter information guide must file the proper paperwork at the California Secretary of State's office.

Candidates running for U.S. Representative, State Senator or Member of the State Assembly who wish to publish a candidate statement in county sample ballot booklets must contact each county elections office in the district.

For more information, see Candidate Statements.

What is the process of approving a candidate's ballot designation?

Once the California Secretary of State receives a declaration of candidacy and ballot designation worksheet from the candidate's county elections office, the Secretary of State's office determines whether the candidate's ballot designation complies with state laws and regulations based on the information provided on the candidate documents.

For more information about candidate ballot designations, see Candidate Resources.


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