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How to Campaign Ethically for Office and Win Your Election
Home News & Society Politics
By: Jack Sterling Email Article
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Unethical stuff from opposing parties when you're trying to get your name on the ballot in a campaign race doesn't go on everywhere. The State of Kentucky, admirably, has done away with some campaign registration nonsense by simply requiring only two or four valid signatures for many local offices. Kentucky is the exception, and states like California, New York, Ohio (and probably your state) are the rule.

The rule is: even if you try to comply with the petition requirements in your campaign race, they will do everything they can to use hyper-technical interpretations to try to invalidate your petitions.

In order to avoid this in your campaign race, the people who circulate your nominating petitions have to be carefully instructed about what to do and what not to do. There are some common problems that come up on nominating petitions, and you need to have some idea of what these instructions ought to include.

First, the candidate's portion of the nominating petition must be completed accurately for your particular campaign race. If the candidate's portion is not correct the entire petition will be declared invalid regardless of the number of signatures you have on it.

For example, if the petition form requires the candidate's home address and precinct of residence, that must be included. If the candidate's signature is required to be notarized, then it must be notarized, and so on. Keep in mind that although we use the phrase "nominating petition," the petition itself is often composed of several sheets. The petition form may have spaces for ten to twenty-five signatures, so if you need fifty or one hundred names, you will have to use separate sheets. Each separate sheet is called a part petition. Each part petition must be valid by itself, and comply with all regulations.

There are basically two kinds of elections, the primary election campaign and the general election campaign, and usually the candidate files petitions to get on the ballot in the primary election. The primary ballot contains the names of all the candidates who want to run for that office. Whoever wins the primary election campaign will be on the ballot as the party's candidate in the general election. The general election decides who will hold that office. In some elections, there is no primary, but nominating petitions are still used. The candidate circulates and files petitions. If he has the minimum number of signatures, his name is put on the ballot in the general election along with all the other candidates who file valid petitions.

In another variation, the party candidates file petitions and run in the primary, but a nonparty candidate may file petitions for that office as an independent. The two winners of the primaries, plus the independent candidate, will be on the ballot in the general election, in a so-called three way race.

In still other elections, called bedsheet ballot elections, all candidates file petitions for one seat out of several and the top vote getters win. For example, there may be three seats open on the Board of Commissioners and eight candidates who file petitions for commissioner. All eight names are on the ballot, and the voters can vote for any three names. The top three vote getters win.

On the other hand, the three commissioner seats may be elected separately too. Each commissioner seat is distinguished, usually by the date term begins, e.g., commissioner, term beginning January 1; commissioner, term beginning January 2; and so on. In that case, the nominating petition in the primary election campaign has to state specifically which term the candidate is running for.

Visit Killer Campaigning to learn more about how to campaign.

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