The U.S. House of Representatives seats 435 members. The number of members representing a state depends on its population, as recorded in the decennial census. States are divided into congressional districts and one representative is elected per district into the House. These seats are up for re-election every two years.
Candidates, of course, need to fulfill some requirements. They have to be twenty-five years of age, a citizen of the U.S. for at least seven years and a resident of the district they are contending in. They can either represent a major party or contest as an independent candidate.
How to enter the ballot?
There are some qualifying factors for a candidate to be on the general election ballot, held in November. Candidates from major parties are directly placed on the state ballot. The party holds primary elections right before the November ballot to decide their nominee.
For an independent candidate, a petition signed by at least 150 certified voters is required for the candidate’s name to be on the ballot. Additionally, you must not have been affiliated with any party in the ninety days prior to the first deadline for submitting your nomination papers.
Getting your nomination papers
So you’ve decided to enter the race for District representative?
You’d have to fill in your nomination papers with the required signatures with the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth. The papers would be made available at least fifteen weeks prior to the first submission deadline. You can collect them from the Office of the Secretary, from the city hall or request the papers mailed to your address. Contact the Election Division for any information regarding nomination papers and their availability.
An important point to note here is the difference between papers for party and independent candidates. Generally, papers for party candidates are white and those for independent candidates are yellow. You can make exact copies of the papers for collecting signatures but be sure to print both sides.
Filling your nomination papers
Before you go out gathering signatures from voters though, you need to fill in candidate’s information in the papers. That includes the name, address, political party, the office for which you are running and the election district. Be sure to fill in the complete address with proper street name and number and spell out the city name to avoid confusion.
Once you are done with that, you are ready to collect signatures. Each nomination paper should contain signatures from voters registered within one city or town. Signatures of voters from other communities on the same sheet would be disallowed. In case your district crosses city or town lines, get separate papers for voters of each community.
To make your job easier, the local election official of a town or city can provide you with a list of registered voters.
Many signatures get disallowed during the certification process so make sure to collect more signatures than the required limit. To be certified, signatures must be legible and match the registered one. Signers also need to state their registered addresses to be verified by the election commissioner. In case the voter isn’t sure about their registered signature, they can provide multiple variations with addresses attached to each variation.
Verification of certified signatures
Seven days before filing the papers before the Secretary of the Commonwealth, the local election officials have to complete certification of signatures. If your total certified signatures exceed the bare minimum by less than 10%, you have the right to request a review of the uncertified signatures. However, you only have 48 hours to ask for a review.
Filing of additional papers
Along with filing the nomination papers with the Office of the Secretary, candidates have to submit a written acceptance of the nomination. You could do so by signing the designated space in the nomination papers. You’d also require filing a receipt from the State Ethics Committee declaring that you’ve filed a statement of financial interest with them in the election year. Contact the State Ethics Committee to obtain forms, instructions and information regarding your financial interest.
On top of that, candidates are to submit an enrollment certificate or a certificate of voter registration. Blank certificates are available at the local election office. As an independent candidate, you have to get it signed or stamped by three registrars to be eligible on the ballot.
Follow all the instructions above and you would be an eligible candidate for the seat of District Representative. Get started on your campaign, learn about voter issues and spread your message to ensure a win when November comes around.