Candidate Qualifying Underway For Local Races

Jun 21, 2016

Students register to vote at Tate High School.
Credit Escambia Votes

Monday marked the start of qualifying for candidates wishing to run for state and local offices in the August 30th primary. The deadline is noon on Friday.  

As of Monday, there were 45 candidates listed on escambiavotes.com, for local offices ranging from Escambia County Commission to Mayor of Century. Supervisor of Elections David Stafford says there were a few early birds among them.

“Qualifying is Monday through Friday, from noon to noon,” said Stafford. “However, before qualifying starts, 14 days before that, Florida statutes allow for persons to file their papers; basically pre-qualify.”

Of the listed candidates, Stafford says 27 had already sent in their paperwork, which was validated when qualifying began at noon on Monday. The remainder will now have to come by the Elections Office to qualify for ballot placement.

The first step, says Stafford, is filing an appointment of campaign treasurer form.

“That basically states the office that the individual wishes to run for, names a primary depository as well as a campaign treasurer,” Stafford said. “Within 10 days they have to file a Statement of Candidate, which says they’ve been provided a copy of Florida’s elections laws and have read and understood them.”

Most offices require either a filing fee, or a petition threshold to be met. The petition deadline was about a month ago. For those meeting the petition mandate, the next step is filing the Oath of Candidate and one of the financial disclosure forms depending on the office being sought.

Meanwhile, Stafford’s office has been mailing out voter information cards – you should already have yours. He says the reason for the cards is something that did not get a ton of publicity – but is nevertheless important.

“The litigation resulting from challenges from the redistricting at the state level resulted in Escambia County getting a new state senate district number designation,” said Stafford.” On the ballot they’ll be actually voting for state Senate District-1, and not state Senate District-2.”

Stafford adds that it’s also important to review the personal information in those mail outs, especially making sure of your legal mailing address.

Prior to the March 15 presidential primary, about 21% of Escambia County’s registered voters were either No Party Affiliation [NPA] or belonged to a minor party. The August 30 Democratic and Republican primaries are closed primaries.

“You’ll have other offices that are non-partisan,” said Stafford. “Municipal offices, and school board. For things like U.S. Senate and Congressional primaries; Sheriff and County Commission, you do have to be registered with [the Republican or Democratic] party in order to participate in that primary.”

A good rule of thumb is that if the candidates’ party affiliations are listed on the ballot it’s a closed primary. Non-partisan races are open to all voters. The concern by Escambia County Elections Supervisor David Stafford is not for whom ballots will be cast, but how many will come out to cast them.

“If you’re looking at past is prologue, then it’s probably a safe bet to look at somewhere around the 25% turnout,” Stafford said. “I’d certainly love to be surprised.”

Joining the candidates on the ballot is Amendment 4, which would give property tax exemptions for renewable energy devices.

More information is at www.escambiavotes.com, or at any of the other 66 supervisor of elections websites in Florida.