Registration – Getting Started

Any business that wants to be a registered political party needs to remember special rules. First, national party conventions can’t accept or direct any money to any candidate or group outside the constraints and prohibitions of federal election law. Second, state, district and county committee, called local party activity (LEA), is uniquely regulated.



To register as a candidate for an office, the first step is to have your name, address, phone number and party affiliation printed on a sign-up sheet and mailed to the secretary of state or county clerk of the party’s primary objective. The secretary of state or county clerk will check to see if you are registered. If you’re a candidate, your form must also include the name of the political party, a signature block by the name of the person signing on behalf of the party and any other information required by the state’s rules. The sign-up sheet and any accompanying documents must be signed before hand or by hand and signed under penalty of perjury.


In the case of a political committee, the county clerk’s office usually holds a voter registration drive during the week prior to election day. You can register at the office if you don’t live in the specified district. You need not fill out a special form at this time, but if you’re a candidate, you must sign a form stating that you agree to accept political contributions, which may be deposited into a special bank account. You must then file the appropriate forms with the county clerk. If you’re a member of a county committee, you’ll want to confirm whether the local party has filed its forms with the secretary of state.


Registration will be a legal requirement for all candidates; it doesn’t have to be complete on election day. If you’re interested in being listed, you may want to make an appointment with a party volunteer to register you. Most parties hold registration drives at their headquarters during the last week before the primary.


Registration at the county or state clerk’s office is much the same as registration for a candidate. However, in most states, the party must have filed its registration form within 30 days before the election date. For candidates who have no party affiliation, a valid identification card and proof of residence must be presented to the registrar of voters. The card can be either a copy of a driver’s license or a social security card. If the candidate does not provide identification, the registrar will assign a social security number that can be verified by the person presenting the card. If you’re not sure of your identification, ask your local party.


Registration requires filling out a form that must be signed by a canvasser. It’s your responsibility to verify that the person is authorized to sign on behalf of your party and the county or state. Party volunteers can be asked questions about whether they are volunteers or paid. If your work is done, the cards must be postmarked by the deadline and sent to the proper address on the form.

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