Independent Candidate Qualifying
Candidates qualifying as an independent do so through the local Election Superintendent. The Qualifying Officer at the Putnam County Board of Elections and Registration is Lynne Laseter, the Supervisor of Elections and Registration. Independent candidates for partisan offices do not participate in the General Primary Election.
All candidates must file a Notice of Candidacy and Affidavit with the qualifying officer. The Notice of Candidacy and Affidavit may be filled out, signed, and notarized prior to the start of qualifying but may not be filed until qualifying officially opens. A candidate may have an agent submit the notice and qualifying fee on their behalf. All signatures on the notice must be the candidates original signature, copies, including faxed copies, are not acceptable. Forms may be submitted by mail during the qualifying period but they must contain original signatures and must be accompanied by the qualifying fee. Candidates should be mindful that some offices have forms that are required in addition to the notice of candidacy and affidavit.
There are two qualifying periods for independent candidates. Candidates may file the Notice of Candidacy and Affidavit and pay the prescribed qualifying fee during the first or second qualifying period. The first qualifying period opens at 9:00 am on Monday, March 7 and closes Friday, March 11, at 12:00 noon. The second qualifying period opens Monday, June 27, at 9:00 am and closes Friday, July 1, at 12:00 noon. Candidates cannot file a nomination petition before Monday, June 27, at 9:00 am. All nomination petitions must be filed by Tuesday, July 12, at 12:00 noon.
A nomination petition is required for any candidate that is required to file a Notice of Candidacy unless that candidate is: (exceptions listed are only those that affect local offices)
- Seeking office in a special election
- An incumbent qualifying as a candidate to succeed himself or herself
- A candidate seeking election in a nonpartisan election
Notice of Candidacy and Affidavit
Nomination petitions for local office must be signed by a number of voters equal to 5% of the total number of registered voters eligible to vote in the last election for the filling of the office that the candidate is seeking and the signers of the petition must be registered and eligible to vote in the election at which the candidate is seeking election. In the case of candidates seeking offices for which there has never been an election or are seeking election to a newly constituted constituency, the percentage figure shall be determined based on the total number of registered voters in the constituency who would have been qualified to vote for such office had the election been held at the last general election and the signers of that petition must be registered and eligible to vote in the election at which the candidate seeks to be elected. Please contact the Board of Elections and Registration for help determining the number of signatures required for your nomination petition.
The Secretary of State has a form to which all nomination petitions must adhere. Each nomination petition must be printed front to back and contain the signer’s affidavit and signatures on the front and the circulator’s affidavit on the back. Each page of the petition must be the same and must be notarized. It is imperative that candidates remember that no notary public may sign the petition as an elector or serve as the circulator of any petition which he or she has notarized. Any and all sheets of a petition that have the circulator’s affidavit notarized by a notary public who also served as a circulator of one or more sheets of the petition or who signed one of the sheets of the petition as an elector will be disqualified and rejected.
There are two options for qualifying fees; the candidate may pay the prescribed qualifying fee, or submit a Pauper’s Affidavit and Qualifying Petition. The Secretary of State has a prescribed form for the Pauper’s Affidavit and Qualifying Petition and no affidavit or petition will be accepted if they do not conform. Candidates seeking to qualify as a pauper must list their total income, assets, liabilities, and other relevant information indicating their inability to pay the required qualifying fee. No affidavit will be accepted unless a qualifying petition has been filed. Each qualifying petition for a candidate seeking a county level office must be signed by at least 1% of the total number of registered voters eligible to vote in the last election for the filling of the office the candidate is seeking and the signers of the petition must be registered and eligible to vote in the election at which the candidate is seeking election.
The same restrictions on form and who can sign that apply to nomination petitions apply to qualifying petitions.
Under the Ethics in Government Act, candidates are required to file several financial disclosure documents. The Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission (GGTCFC) is a great resource for education about what forms need to be filed when and with whom those forms should be filed.
The Putnam County Board of Elections and Registration is the local filing entity for county offices. The Board utilizes a program called EasyCampaignFinance that allows candidates and office holders to file their documents online. After a document is submitted to the filing officer, it is reviewed, either accepted or rejected, then either efaxed to the GGTCFC or sent back to the filer with notes of corrections that need to be made.
Candidates will need to file the following documents before they can begin making campaign expenditures or accepting campaign donations:
- Declaration of Intention to Accept Campaign Contributions (FORM DOI)
- Personal Financial Disclosure Statement (PFDS)
- Campaign Contribution Disclosure Report (CCDR)
Each filing has a deadline and the late fees can be very high and compound quickly. Call the Board of Elections and Registration for more information on filing dates and access to the EasyCampaignFinance program. Candidates are strongly encouraged to utilize the candidate education resources on the GGTCFC website.