Candidate Frequently Asked Questions

When May I Announce My Candidacy and Become an Official Candidate?

You may discuss your candidacy at any time; however, you are considered an “announced” candidate when your qualifying officer receives your Appointment of Campaign Treasurer and Designation of Campaign Depository (DS-DE 9) (F.S. 106.021). 

You may open your bank account AFTER form DS-DE 9 has been FILED with the filing officer.  Local candidates are not issued an EIN number; your social security number may be used by the bank.

This form shows the following information:

  • Your name, address, e-mail address and telephone number (optional);
  • Your political party, if you are a partisan candidate;
  • Office sought, including district and/or group number;
  • Name, address, and phone number of your campaign treasurer;
  • A signature of campaign treasurer, showing acceptance of appointment (you may be your own treasurer);
  • Name and address of your depository. 
You are required within 10 days of filing the Appointment of Campaign Treasurer and Designation of Campaign Depository, to file a Statement of Candidate with your qualifying officer, stating that you have been provided access to read and understand Chapter 106.  

Does Resign-To-Run Apply?

No person may qualify as a candidate for more than one public office, if the terms or any part thereof runs concurrently with each other (F.S. 99.012(2)).  This does not apply to political party offices or persons serving without salary or an appointed board or authority.  The resignation must be submitted in writing at least 10 days prior to the first day of qualifying for that office. 

The resignation must take effect no later than the earlier of the following dates:

  • The date the officer would take office, if elected; or
  • The date the officer’s successor is required to take office.

If the resignation is not submitted in a timely manner then, when it is submitted, it is effective immediately.  Resignations are submitted to the appropriate filing officer with a copy to the governor.  Once submitted, the resignation is irrevocable.

If it is determined that a person did not comply with this section, the person shall not be qualified as a candidate and his name shall not appear on the ballot.  This information does not apply to federal candidates.

What if I Change My Mind and Want to Run for Another Office?

  • You file a new Appointment of Campaign Treasurer and Designation of Campaign Depository, designating the new office, with your qualifying officer.
  • You notify all your contributors within 15 days of this change, offering to return their contributions pro rata if they return the request form to you within 30 days of notification.
  • Any contributions not requested to be returned within that period may be used by you for your new designated office (F.S. 106.021 (1)(a)).
  • If you are running by the Petition Method, you may not use the petitions gathered for the first office towards the re-designated office.

I Want to Change My Party Affiliation

This prohibits would-be candidates from seeking a party’s nomination to an office if the person was a member of any other political party for 365 days preceding qualifying. 

The deadline for changing a party before 2016 qualifying is June 18, 2017 for State, Multi-County, County and Special District Candidates (F.S. 99.021).

What is a Contribution?

  • A contribution is defined as (F.S. 106.011(3)):
  • A gift, subscription, conveyance, deposit, loan, payment, or distribution of money or anything of value, including contributions in-kind, having an attributable monetary value in any form, made for the purpose of influencing the results of an election.
  • Services provided without compensation by individuals volunteering time on behalf of a candidate or political committee is not a contribution, this includes accountant fees, attorney fees and editorial endorsements.
NOTE:  A money order is not considered a cash contribution.

What is the Limit a Person May Contribute to My Campaign Account?

  • A person may give your campaign no more than $1000 for each election in which you are opposed (F.S. 106.08).
  • A person may not make or accept a cash contribution or contribution by means of a cashier’s check in excess of $50.00 per election.  (This includes money from the candidate to the campaign.)
  • Federal law prohibits contributions from foreign nationals to any federal, state, or local candidate, unless the foreign national possesses a green card.

Contributions from a Joint Bank Account

When a candidate receives a contribution on a check from a joint bank account, signed by only one of the joint owners, the person signing the check is considered the contributor (DOE Opinion 88-39).  Therefore if the couple wants to each contribute, they must write 2 checks and each sign one.

What is an In-Kind Contribution?

An in-kind contribution is something that a person has and wants to give or lend a candidate for a campaign.  The limits are the same as the limits for monetary contributions, and if someone gives you money and in-kind contributions, the combined total cannot exceed the $1000 limit.  Any person who makes an in-kind contribution shall, at the time of making such contribution, place a fair market value on the in-kind contribution.  In-kind contributions made by the candidate CANNOT be monetarily reimbursed at the end of the campaign (F.S. 106.055).

Raffles are Not Allowed, Neither is the Passing of the Hat.  You Must Have a Name and Address for Any Contributor (F.S. 106.07 (4)(a)).

What if I receive an Anonymous Contribution?

An opinion from the Division of Elections (DE 89-02), recommends that the contribution be reported on the campaign treasurer’s report as an anonymous contribution, and that you send a cover letter explaining that the contribution is anonymous and you have made an effort to locate whoever sent the contribution, and it is impossible to return.  A copy of this letter will be sent to the Division of Elections for the Florida Elections Commission file.  The opinion also recommends that the candidate not spend the contribution, and donate it at the end of the campaign to an appropriate entity (F.S. 106.141).

What is the Last Day I May Receive Contributions?

If a candidate is opposed on the Primary and General Election ballots, the last date he or she may accept a campaign contribution is midnight of the Thursday preceding each election.  If the candidate is only on the General Election ballot, contributions can be accepted up through the Primary; and then midnight the Thursday prior to the General Election (Opinion DE 97-03). Any contribution received after that date and time may not be deposited and must be returned to the contributor.  Use form DS-DE 2 to report these contributions.

What is an Expenditure?

An expenditure is a purchase, payment, distribution, loan, advance, transfer of funds by a campaign treasurer or deputy treasurer between a primary depository and a separate interest-bearing account or certificate of deposit, or gift of money or anything of value made for the purpose of influencing the results of an election or making an electioneering communication. A candidate must pay all campaign expenditures by a check drawn on his campaign account.  A candidate may not make unlimited personal expenditures and report them as reimbursements.  Likewise, a candidate may not make unlimited personal expenditures, donate purchased items to his/her campaign and then report them as in-kind contributions.  To do so frustrates the purpose of the campaign finance law, which is the full disclosure of campaign expenditures. The exception to this is the use of petty cash. 

Can Debit Cards be Used for Campaigns?

Debit cards may be used in lieu of campaign checks and are considered bank checks if:

  • Obtained from the same bank as the primary campaign depository.
  • Issued in the name of the treasurer, deputy treasurer, or authorized user.
  • States the Name of the Campaign Account of the Candidate.
  • No more than three are issued.
  • The person using the card does not receive cash as part of, or independent of, any transaction for goods or services.

All debit card receipts must contain:

  • Last four digits of the debit card number.
  • Exact amount of expenditure.
  • Name of payee.
  • Signature of campaign treasurer, deputy treasurer, or authorized user.
  • Exact purpose of expenditure.

If any of the above information is not included on the receipt it may be hand written on, or attached to the receipt by the authorized user before submitting to the campaign treasurer.  The debit card user shall be responsible for the completeness and accuracy of the information and for insuring that such expenditure is authorized (F.S. 106.11 (2)(a)).

Is There a Limit on the Amount I may Spend on My Campaign?

There is no limit to the amount you may contribute to your own campaign.

Can I Add Money to My Account to Pay for Expenses if I Run Short?

No candidate or treasurer may authorize any expenses unless there are sufficient funds on deposit in the primary depository account to pay the full amount of the authorized expense, or to meet all expenses previously authorized but not yet paid. 

A candidate opposed in an election, MAY NOT deposit money in their account after an election.  This would be accepting a contribution, which is specifically prohibited after the 5th day prior to the election (F.S. 106.08 (3)(a)).

Advertising Agency or Public Relations Consultant

If you advertise with an advertising agency for any of your campaign, you must make payment for each vendor with a check drawn from the campaign account and a check to the agency for their services.

The full name and address of each person or vendor to whom the expenditure is made must be reported (F.S. 106.07 (7)).