NEWS UPDATE: April 14, 2022
Don’t Lose the Election Before Your Campaign Begins
The Top Five Mistakes to Avoid When Qualifying

Each election cycle, candidates are disqualified and/or fined for election law violations that could have easily been prevented. Here are the top five mistakes to avoid when qualifying:

1. Make sure you meet all of the qualification requirements before the qualification period ends.
  • While the specifics vary depending upon the office sought, to qualify, you must generally:
  • satisfy a minimum age requirement (e.g., 30 for many statewide offices vs. 21 for state senator/representative)
  • be a resident of Florida for the requisite amount of time (e.g., 7 years for many statewide offices vs. 2 years for state senator/representative)
  • many positions also require you to be a resident of the jurisdiction you are representing upon taking office
  • pay the qualifying fee and party assessment or submit a sufficient number of petitions
Glenn Burhans, Jr.
Bridget Smitha
  • Submit the Oath of Candidate (there are various forms depending on the office you are seeking and party affiliation, e.g., Form DS-DE 301A, 301B, 301C vs. Form DS-DE 303JU).
  • Appoint a campaign treasurer and designate a campaign depository (Form DS-DE 9). While the candidate can serve as treasurer or deputy treasure, appointing a CPA with Florida campaign experience can save you from headaches or costly mistakes.
  • File the Statement of Candidate (DS-DE 84) within 10 days of filing Form DS-DE 9 (above).
  • Fully and publicly disclose all financial interests (CE Form 6, discussed below).
  • Go to the Department of State’s website and confirm that is shows you are qualified prior to the qualification period closing. Our office can hand deliver qualifying papers and confirm qualification in person. 

Failure to follow these requirements could disqualify you from the election. We will go into more detail on the best way to meet these requirements, as well as how to avoid common pitfalls involving contributions and expenditures, in future articles.

2. If you are not qualifying using the petition method or write-in method, properly execute payment of the qualification fee.
  • Make the check payable to the Florida Department of State, Florida Secretary of State, or Florida Division of Elections
  • Use a check from your campaign account.
  • Have the campaign’s treasurer or deputy treasurer sign the check (a candidate cannot sign the check unless they are the campaign treasurer or deputy treasurer). 
  • Ensure the amount of the check matches the qualifying fee and that sufficient funds are in the account. Failing to properly pay the qualification fee may prevent your name from appearing on the ballot.
3. If you currently hold a public office that would overlap with the term of the office you seek, you generally are required to submit a resignation letter at least ten days before the first day of qualifying for the new office sought (a few limited exceptions apply).
  • If you are currently a public officer, and you are running for a public office that has a term that will overlap with your current office (meaning you would take office before the term of your current office expires), then you must irrevocably resign from your current office before you qualify for the new office. Your resignation must be effective no later than the earlier of: (a) the date you would take office if elected; or (b) the date your successor is required to take office.    
  • If you are a subordinate officer, deputy sheriff, or police officer seeking to qualify for a public office that is currently held by a public officer with authority to appoint, employ, promote or supervise you, and that public officer has qualified for reelection to that office, you must resign effective upon qualifying for office.
  • You are not required to resign if you serve on an appointed board or authority without pay; you hold federal office; you hold or are running for a political party office; or you are an elected officer running for federal office and the term of office you presently hold is scheduled to expire and be filled by election in the same primary and general election period as the federal office you are seeking. 
  • Violating the resign-to-run requirement will disqualify you from appearing on the ballot.

4. Fully and publicly disclose all financial interests.
  • Candidates must file CE Form 6 at the time of qualifying.
  • The form should be signed in blue ink to indicate that it is an original signature.
  • The form must be notarized.
  • For candidates, such as current officeholders, that file their 2021 Full and Public Disclosure electronically, a copy of the electronically filed CE Form 6 can be provided during qualifying. If you fail to file CE Form 6, you may be fined $25 per each late day, up to a maximum fine of $1,500, as well as a civil penalty.

5. If you hold or are running for the offices listed below, and you solicit or accept a contribution on behalf of a 527 or 501(c)(4) organization that you established, maintain or control, then you must file a Statement of Solicitation.
  • If you currently hold the office of or are running for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer, Commissioner or Agriculture, or state legislature you must file a Statement of Solicitation (Form DS-DE 102) unless you are acting on behalf of your own campaign, a political party, or an affiliated party committee of which you are a member.
  • The Statement of Solicitation must be filed within 5 days of directly or indirectly soliciting, causing to be solicited, or accepting any contribution on behalf of an organization that is exempt from taxation under Section 527 or 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and that was established, or is maintained or controlled, by you.
  • Once you file the Statement of Solicitation, you must create a public website containing the organization’s mission statement and the names of the persons associated with it. You must report the website address to the Division of Elections within 5 business days of creating the website.
  • Within 5 days of depositing a contribution, the amount (as well as the name, address, and occupation of the donor) must be disclosed on the website.
  • Within 5 days of an expenditure, the amount must be individually disclosed on the website.
  • If you fail to timely file Form DS-DE 102, you will be subject to a civil penalty of $50 per day for each late day, which must be paid from your personal funds.
Important Dates & Deadlines
Qualifying Period 1:

Noon, Monday, April 25, 2022
Noon, Friday, April 29, 2022

For these offices:
  • State Attorney (6th and 20th Judicial Circuits)
  • Public Defender (20th Judicial Circuit)
  • Florida Supreme Court and District Court of Appeal (retention)
  • Circuit Court Judge
Qualifying Period 2:

Noon, Monday, June 13, 2022
Noon, Friday, June 17, 2022

For these offices:
  • U.S. Senator
  • Representative in Congress
  • Governor
  • Attorney General
  • Chief Financial Officer Commissioner of Agriculture
  • State Senator
  • State Representative
  • Multi-County Special Districts

Note: This qualifying period also applies to County and District offices, but the qualifying materials must be submitted to the applicable County Supervisor of Elections rather than the Secretary of State.
Learn more about our Election & Political Law group.
About Stearns Weaver Miller
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