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Candidate FAQs

Candidates

Does a candidate for federal office have to live in the district they are running for?
o Candidates for the office of U.S. Representative must be a resident of the state from which elected, but do not have to live in the district for which they are running.

Can a person run for precinct committee and a federal office?
o Yes

How should candidates contact the BOE on Election Day in regards to violations at a voting location?
o Candidates should call the poll workers hot line at 216-443-3277

When may a candidate begin to pass out literature for his/her campaign?
o Under state law, a potential candidate may begin passing out literature for his or her campaign after a “Designation of Treasurer” form is filed with the appropriate office. Therefore, as long as a potential candidate has properly filed a “Designation of Treasurer” form, he or she can expend funds for the candidacy, including expenditures for campaign literature.(as of 10/22/07)

May a Board of Elections remove a candidate’s name from the General Election ballot prior to printing the ballots if the candidate has submitted a written request to the Board to withdraw his/her candidacy?
o Yes. R.C. 3513.30(D) allows for removing from the general election ballot the name of a withdrawn candidate:
o “(D) Any person nominated in a primary election or by nominating petition as a candidate for election at the next general election may withdraw as such candidate at any time prior to the general election. Such withdrawal may be effected by the filing of a written statement by such candidate announcing the candidate's withdrawal and requesting that the candidate's name not be printed on the ballots. If such candidate's declaration of candidacy or nominating petition was filed with the secretary of state, the candidate's statement of withdrawal shall be addressed to and filed with the secretary of state. If such candidate's declaration of candidacy or nominating petition was filed with a board of elections, the candidate's statement of withdrawal shall be addressed to and filed with such board.”
o Thus, your board may remove from your ballots the name of a withdrawn candidate for as long as i reasonably practicable to do so.
o If your board chooses not to remove the name of a withdrawn candidate, your board must:
o Post a notice of the candidate's withdrawal at each affected polling place on Election Day;
o Enclose with each affected absentee ballot issued after the candidate withdraws a notice that votes for the withdrawn candidate will be void and will not be counted; and
o Declare the votes for the withdrawn candidate void and not count them.
o Note: The restriction in R.C. 3513.30(E) on removing the name of a withdrawn candidate during the 60 days before an election applies only to primary elections: "When a person withdraws under division ... (D) of this section *** after the sixtieth day before the day of the primary election, or ... after the forty-fifth day before the day of the presidential primary election, the board of elections shall not remove the name of the withdrawn candidate from the ballots." (as of November 7, 2007)

Does it matter if a candidate has not filed his/her signed petitions with the Board of Elections and is already passing out literature for his/her campaign?
o No. The filing of a candidate petition (i.e., declaration of candidacy or nominating petition) is not relevant to when a potential candidate may begin passing out campaign literature.
o Under state law, a potential candidate may begin passing out literature for his or her campaign after a Designation of Treasurer form is filed with the appropriate office. Therefore, as long as a potential candidate has filed a designation of treasurer,he or she can expend funds for the candidacy, including expenditures for campaign literature.(as of 10/22/07)

Can a person who voted democratic or republican in a previous primary file as an independent candidate in the very next primary?
o Yes. A person may file a nominating petition as an independent candidate, even though the individual voted in the previous party primary, as the individual may no longer want to be affiliated with that political party. A problem arises when a person filing as an independent candidate files his or her nominating petition and then votes in a party primary before the general election in which the person filed to be an independent candidate. Voting in the party primary demonstrates that the individual is not independent. (As of 7/13/07)

May an incumbent officeholder who was nominated and elected previously as a partisan candidate now file to run as an independent candidate for any office?
o Due to the Sixth Circuit's ruling in Morrison (see below) that independent candidates now must be truly independent, the board has a duty to investigate before certifying the petition. In Morrison v. Colley, 467 F.3d 503 (6th Cir. 2006), the Sixth Circuit held that all independent candidates must truly be unaffiliated, and that when an independent candidate claims that she or he is not affiliated with any political party, that such claim be made in good faith. Therefore, the board should determine whether the candidate has taken any action or holds any position that would constitute affiliation with a political party. For example, is the candidate a current member of the central committee of a political party? Did the candidate vote in a primary election after filing the independent nominating petition? The board must investigate to see if the candidate truly is no longer affiliated with a political party. (As of 7/13/07)

May a convicted felon run for village office?
o In general, the answer is "yes." Ohio law prohibits a convicted felon from holding public office, but the law does not prevent an individual from being a candidate for the office -- unless a statute expressly extends the disqualifications to candidacy.
o R.C. 2961.02(B) states: "Any person who is convicted of a disqualifying offense [which includes a felony] is incompetent to hold a public office . . . if holding the public office . . . involves substantial management or control over the property of a . . . political subdivision."
o The Ohio Attorney General has recognized that the law disqualifying a convicted felon from holding office does not prevent an individual from being a candidate for the office, unless the law expressly extends disqualifications to candidacy. Please refer to OAG 98-013 and page F-41 of the Election Official Manual for the opinion. (An example of a statute that expressly extends disqualification to candidacy is R.C. 311.01(B), which expressly states that "no person is eligible to be a candidate for sheriff" if the person has been convicted of a felony.)
o If a convicted felon is elected, however, that candidate is obligated to remove any disqualification to holding the office. Thus, in order to hold the office, the person would need to be pardoned, have the conviction reversed, expunged, or annulled, or somehow have his or her privilege to hold public office restored. See R.C. 2962.02. (as of 5/08/07)

May a potential candidate for a local school board circulate a petition for a proposed issue at the same time the individual is circulating his or her own petition for school board candidate?
o Yes. The Revised Code does not prohibit a potential candidate from circulating both a petition for a proposed issue at the same time the individual is circulating his or her own petition for school board candidate.
o The candidate petition and the proposed issue petition must be separate petitions enabling voters to support or not support each petition separately. Thus, each petition shall be substantially in the form prescribed by their respective Revised Code sections. If this were not the case, then the circulator would be in violation of Ohio election law. For example, R.C. 3519.01(A) provides that "only one proposal of law or constitutional amendment to be proposed by initiative petition shall be contained in an initiative petition to enable the voters to vote on that proposal separately. A petition shall include the text of any existing statute or constitutional provision that would be amended or repealed if the proposed law or constitutional amendment is adopted."
o As you know, no one in SOS office or at a board of elections may provide individuals with specific legal advice. The SOS office may only answer general questions about Ohio elections law. A potential candidate should consult with an attorney versed in Ohio elections law if they desire a specific legal opinion. (as of 9/30/07)

Petitions
If only your middle initial is registered can you put your full middle name on the ballot?
o Yes

Can you change the printed name of how you should appear on the ballot after the petition is filed?
o Yes, but it must done within a reasonable amount of time i.e. before the ballots are created.

Do you have to have a middle name on the ballot?
o No

Does the registered name and name used in the Statement of Candidacy need to match exactly?
o That is preferred, but your petition will not be rejected for that reason alone.

• What happens if you move after you file your petition?
o You are required to notify us so we may update your candidate information, but it will not affect your candidacy unless you moved out of your district.
o You should also update your voter registration information

Do you have to use the petition issued by the BOE?
o No.  We prefer that you use the petitions issued by the BOE.  The BOE issued petitions add a column for printed name for better signature checking.  The BOE also makes changes to conform to municipal charter requirements.

Can a person withdraw their petitions and then run for a different office?
o A person cannot withdraw their petitions, but they can withdraw their candidacy for an office.  They can run for another office only if a person “timely withdraws” his or her candidacy.  This means the prospective candidate must withdraw his or her candidacy prior to the relevant filing deadline or before the county board of elections acts to disqualify the person’s candidacy in order to re-file as a candidate for the same office or any other office.

What happens if a person is registered after they sign the petition?
o In order for the signature on the petition to be considered valid the signer must have a registration card either on file with the Board of Elections before the petition is filed or the registration card is filed with the petition.  Registration cards are required to be filed with the Board of Elections within 10 days of the voter’s signature. 

Can anyone sign an independent petition regardless of party affiliation?
o Yes, provided they are a registered voter.

Does the circulator have to be of the same political affiliation as the candidate?
o Petitions for a candidate are not required to be circulated by a registered voter; if the circulator is circulating a partisan candidate petition and is a registered voter, the petition must be circulated by persons who are members of the same political party as the candidate:
 A voter is considered a member of a political party if he or she voted in that party's primary election within the last two (2) calendar years or, if he or she did not vote in any other party's primary election within the last (2) years.  Therefore, a voter listed as a non-partisan voter may sign and circulate a party petition.  (R.C. 3513.05)

Can the circulator sign their own petition?
o No, but they can sign a petition that another person is circulating for the same candidate.

Can the candidate sign their own petition?
o No, a candidate can never sign their own petition.

What if the circulator is registered in another county?
o Circulators are not required to be registered voters. However, if they are a registered voter and are circulating a partisan petition, then their party affiliation will be checked with the county the circulator is registered in.

Can a non registered person circulate petitions for both parties in the same election?
o No, signing the circulator clause you are indicating that you are member of a particular political party. A circulator cannot in good faith simultaneously claim membership of two parties in the same election. 

Are ditto marks acceptable on a petition?
o Yes, except for signatures of petition signers.

Can circulators cross out information?
o Yes
 
Is there a limit to the number of signatures on a PreCheck?
o We will accept all of the part petitions but only check the maximum number of signatures the candidate can file for that office. 

Does the part petition that contains the candidate’s original signature have to contain signatures of voters?
o Yes, at least one signature.

May a candidate alter the number of signatures noted on a circulator statement if the candidate did not circulate that part-petition?
o Under R.C. 3501.38(E)(1), the circulator must place the number of signatures in the circulator’s statement. Thus, the candidate should not alter the circulator’s statement unless the candidate was also the circulator.
o (As of March 10, 2008)

Does Advisory 2007-05 regarding Independent Candidates and Party Affiliation prevent a individual whose nominating petition as an independent candidate was rejected by the board of elections due to voting in a partisan primary after filing the nominating petition from running as a write-in candidate in the general election?
o No, but R.C. 3513.041 (see below) specifically prohibits anyone who filed a nominating petition as an independent candidate for a municipal office from later filing to run as a write-in candidate for any municipal office.
o The second paragraph of R.C. 3513.041 provides:
o A board of elections shall not accept for filing the declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate of a person seeking to become a candidate if that person, for the same election, has already filed a declaration of candidacy, a declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate, or a nominating petition, or has become a candidate through party nomination at a primary election or by the filling of a vacancy under section 3513.30 or 3513.31 of the Revised Code, for any federal, state, or county office, if the declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate is for a state or county office, or for any municipal or township office, for member of a city, local, or exempted village board of education, or for member of a governing board of an educational service center, if the declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate is for a municipal or township office, or for member of a city, local, or exempted village board of education, or for member of a governing board of an educational service center. (As of 7/13/07)

A petition circulator reduced the number of signatures appearing on a part petition from 18 to 17 before filing it with the Board by striking through or whiting out one of the signatures, but failed to then modify the number of signatures the circulator affirms to have witnessed, leaving the number "18" in the circulator statement. Does this invalidate the part petition?
o No. Based on the information provided it appears that the petition in question is valid. Under Supreme Court of Ohio precedent, so long as the number sworn to by the circulator is greater than or equal to the number of actual signatures, the petition is acceptable.
o In contrast, if the circulator does not affirm that he or she witnessed a particular number of signatures (leaving it blank), or affirms that he or she witnessed fewer signatures than actually appear on the part petition, then the part petition is invalid. (as of 12/30/07)

The signers of the petition inserted only their zip codes in the space for the "City, Village or Township." Does this disqualify the petition?
o Not necessarily. R.C. 3501.38(C) provides: "Each signer shall place on the petition after the signer's name the date of signing and the location of the signer's voting residence, including the street and number if in a municipal corporation or the rural route number, post office address, or township if outside a municipal corporation. The voting address given on the petition shall be the address appearing in the registration records at the board of elections."
o The Supreme Court of Ohio has stated that this statute does not permit substantial compliance. Citizens for Responsible Taxation v. Scioto County Board of Elections, 65 Ohio St. 3d 167 (1992). Accordingly, a board of elections would not abuse its discretion by invalidating this petition because the signers did not list their complete voting residences, including the name of the township.
o The Supreme Court of Ohio has also indicated, that a board may, through a consistently applied policy, overlook such deficiencies where the board is able to identify the signer's voting residence with the information provided. Thus, a board of elections also would not abuse its discretion by accepting a petition in accordance with a consistently applied board policy that accepts minor deficiencies in petitions as long as the board staff is able to determine the signer's voting residence with the information provided. (as of 12/30/07)

Are "independents" permitted to sign a candidate's petition?
o First, please be advised that the correct term for voters who do not vote in partisan primaries is "unaffiliated," not "independent." (Candidates may be independent; voters may be unaffiliated.)
o Second, please be advised that anyone is permitted to sign a candidate’s petition, but only certain signatures should be deemed “valid” by the board when determining whether or not enough valid electors have signed the petition.
o Third, an unaffiliated voter who signed a declaration of candidacy and petition filed by a candidate seeking partisan nomination should be considered a valid elector if the person is a registered voter who is eligible to vote on the office named in the petition.
o Fourth, an unaffiliated voter (the voter has not voted in any political party’s primary election within the preceding two calendar years – 2006 or 2007) who signed a nominating petition of an independent and/or nonpartisan candidate should be considered a valid elector if the person is a registered voter and is eligible to vote on the office named in the petition. (as of 12/30/07)

May a candidate sign the “Statement of Candidacy” on his/her part petition after obtaining signatures of electors on the nominating petition but before filing the petition?
o No. The governing law is R.C. 3513.261. The second sentence of R.C. 3513.261 in effect now (and for at least the past 15 or so years) states: "If the petition consists of more than one separate petition paper, the statement of candidacy of the candidate or joint candidates named need be signed by the candidate or joint candidates on only one of such separate petition papers, but the statement of candidacy so signed shall be copied on each other separate petition paper before the signatures of electors are placed on it (emphasis added). (as of 12/30/07)

Is a circulator statement on a petition valid if the signature of the circulator is a photocopy?
o No. The signature in a circulator’s statement on a petition must be the circulator's original signature. R.C. 3501.38(E) and R.C. 3501.011.
(as of 12/30/07)

• "If a school district covers an area in two different counties, are signatures from each county required to be on separate part petitions?"
o Yes. R.C. 3513.261 provides:
o “A nominating petition may consist of one or more separate petition papers, each of which shall be substantially in the form prescribed in this section. If the petition consists of more than one separate petition paper, the statement of candidacy of the candidate or joint candidates named need be signed by the candidate or joint candidates on only one of such separate petition papers, but the statement of candidacy so signed shall be copied on each other separate petition paper before the signatures of electors are placed on it. Each nominating petition containing signatures of electors of more than one county shall consist of separate petition papers each of which shall contain signatures of electors of only one county; provided that petitions containing signatures of electors of more than one county shall not thereby be declared invalid. In case petitions containing signatures of electors of more than one county are filed, the board of elections shall determine the county from which the majority of the signatures came, and only signatures from this county shall be counted. Signatures from any other county shall be invalid.” (emphasis added). (As of Oct. 4, 2007)

May a law enforcement officer sign a petition and list his or her work address rather than the address at which he or she is registered to vote and that is on file with the board of elections?
o No. Under R.C. 3501.38(C), the signer of a petition must list "the location of the signer's voting residence," and the address given "shall be the address appearing in the registration records at the board of elections." While the General Assembly has excluded the home addresses of certain law enforcement officers from becoming public records, the General Assembly has not amended R.C. 3501.38 to allow them to list another address. Thus, unless the law enforcement officer lists the address on file with the board of elections, the signature is invalid. Moreover, the act of signing a petition is a voluntary act by the signer, so the signer chooses to disclose his or her address in a document that becomes a public record. (as of 9/30/07)

A qualified elector signed an initiative petition on May 29th but was killed in an automobile accident on June 8th. The petition has not yet been filed. Does the signature count or is it invalid because the signer died prior to the filing of the petition.
o Voter qualifications are determined as of the date the petition in question is filed. See 3501.38(A). A voter's registration shall be cancelled upon "the filing of a notice of the death of the registered elector." See R.C. 3503.21.
o Thus, if a petition signer has died between the time he or she signed a petition and the time that petition is filed with the Board of Elections, the voter's signature may or may not be valid depending on whether or not that voter's registration has been cancelled pursuant to law as of the date of the filing of the petition.
o If the notice of death has been filed with the Board of Elections prior to the filing of the petition, then the voter's registration has been cancelled and the voter's signature cannot count.
o If, however, the notice of death has not yet been filed with the Board of Elections when the petition is filed, then the Board of Elections cannot cancel that voter's registration, and the voter's signature should count, because, at the time the petition was filed, the voter in question was still a registered elector.
(as of 8/20/07)

When the public comes in to view a petition filed by a candidate or in support of an issue, may the board require the citizen to complete a form identifying himself or herself?
o No. Those petitions are public records subject to public inspection. Custodians of public records may not require anyone wishing to inspect public records to put the request in writing, OR to identify him/herself, OR to state why he/she wants to inspect the public records. (as of 8/05/07)

Campaign Finance
Does it matter if a candidate has not filed his/her signed petitions with the Board of Elections and is already passing out literature for his/her campaign?
o No. The filing of a candidate petition (i.e., declaration of candidacy or nominating petition) is not relevant to when a potential candidate may begin passing out campaign literature.
o Under state law, a potential candidate may begin passing out literature for his or her campaign after a Designation of Treasurer form is filed with the appropriate office. Therefore, as long as a potential candidate has filed a designation of treasurer,he or she can expend funds for the candidacy, including expenditures for campaign literature.(as of 10/22/07)

When may a candidate begin to pass out literature for his/her campaign?
o Under state law, a potential candidate may begin passing out literature for his or her campaign after a “Designation of Treasurer” form is filed with the appropriate office. Therefore, as long as a potential candidate has properly filed a “Designation of Treasurer” form,he or she can expend funds for the candidacy, including expenditures for campaign literature.(as of 10/22/07)

Is there limit to the time before or after a primary or general election that a candidate may place campaign signs?
o A candidate must file a designation of appointment of a treasurer (in accordance with R.C. 3517.10(D)) with the board of elections prior to making any expenditures on the campaign (such as purchasing signs). There is no express provision of the Ohio Revised Code that limits when a candidate may place campaign signs.
o Political speech enjoys the highest protection under the First Amendment. As long as a designation of appointment of treasurer in accordance with R.C. 3517.10(D) is filed before any expenditures are made (even with the candidate's own money), then the candidate may place signs at any time.
o However, there may be municipal ordinances or neighborhood associations that limit the time for campaign signs to be placed. This office takes no position on the legality of any such ordinances or rules. (As of 7/05/07)

Miscellaneous
What is the definition of a “qualified elector”?
o “Elector” or “qualified elector” means a person having the qualifications provided by law to be entitled to vote. ORC 3501.01(N)
o Every citizen of the United States who is of the age of eighteen years or over and who has been a resident of the state thirty days immediately preceding the election at which the citizen offers to vote, is a resident of the county and precinct in which the citizen offers to vote, and has been registered to vote for thirty days, has the qualifications of an elector and may vote at all elections in the precinct in which the citizen resides. ORC 3503.01

What is the procedure for challenging a person who is registered in a place other than where they live?
o The Board of Elections has the Secretary of State prescribed Form 259 “Challenge of Right of Person to Vote” available at our office. The Board of Elections then investigates and makes a ruling on whether or not to remove the person from our registration rolls.

When will the names of people who requested to vote absentee appear on the website?
o This date varies for each election.  This information is usually posted a week before absentee opens.  Please check the absentee label webpage starting a week before absentee opens.  Absentee opens 35 days before elections (25 before Presidential Primaries).  We are not legally allowed to mail absentee ballots until this date.

What is wetting/drying a precinct?
o This deals with local liquor option questions involving the sale of intoxicating liquor or beer in a specific precinct. Petitioners may place on the ballot questions that would wet (allow) or dry (prevent) the ability of businesses to sell beer and intoxicating liquor in bars, restaurants or carry out facilities such as grocery stores or gas stations.

How do deceased individuals get removed from the registration rolls?
o The Ohio Department of Health's, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Secretary of States Office and various municipalities inform us monthly of deceased persons. Those persons are then canceled in the voter registration database. Registered voters can also inform poll workers on Election Day but must provide month and year of death.

What email address should people use to contact the BOE?
o electioninfo@cuyahogacounty.us