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Frequently Asked Questions


Statewide & Legislative Candidates

Local Candidates

Party Organization

 

How do I become a major party candidate?

Major party candidates collect signatures and file a petition along with a consent of candidate form and a financial disclosure form in order to be placed on the ballot in the primary election. In order for a candidate to appear on the primary ballot, petitions, consent of candidate forms, and financial disclosure forms must be filed with the appropriate filing officer no sooner than the fourth Monday in April and no later than 5 p.m. on the fourth Thursday after the first Monday in May. 17 V.S.A. §2356.

Each candidate for non-federal statewide office, state senate, or state representative must also file a Financial Disclosure form prepared by the State Ethics Commission along with their petition and Consent of Candidate. County office candidates are not required to file a Financial Disclosure.

Each candidate for non-federal statewide office (Governor, Lt. Governor, Treasurer, Secretary of State, Auditor, and Attorney General) are also required to file his or her most recent IRS Form 1040. The law allows for certain information to be redacted

Please see our Candidates page for forms and more information.

Major parties can also choose to nominate candidates for office, in the case of a vacancy by death, removal, or withdrawal of a candidate. See 17 V.S.A. §2381. The chair of the designated committee (depending on the office to be nominated) sets a date, time, and place for the meeting and gives five days’ notice to all members of the committee. If the chair of the committee has not called a meeting, then any three members of the committee may set the date, time, and place of meeting. Nominations by party committee must be filed with the Office of the Secretary of State.

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How do I become a minor party candidate?

Minor party candidates are nominated by party committee in order to be placed on the ballot in the general election. See 17 V.S.A. §2385. The statements of nomination, consent of candidate, and financial disclosure forms must be filed by the designated political party committee no sooner than the fourth Monday in April and no later than 5 p.m. on the Thursday prior to the primary. 17 V.S.A. §2386(c)(1).

Each candidate for non-federal statewide office, state senate, or state representative must also file a Financial Disclosure form prepared by the State Ethics Commission along with their petition and Consent of Candidate. County office candidates are not required to file a Financial Disclosure.

Each candidate for non-federal statewide office (Governor, Lt. Governor, Treasurer, Secretary of State, Auditor, and Attorney General) are also required to file his or her most recent IRS Form 1040. The law allows for certain information to be redacted

The chair of the designated committee (depending on the office to be nominated) sets a date, time, and place for the meeting and gives five days’ notice to all members of the committee. If the chair of the committee has not called a meeting, then any three members of the committee may set the date, time, and place of meeting.

All statements of nomination, consent of candidate forms, and financial disclosure forms, except those for justice of the peace, are filed with the Office of the Secretary of State. (Justice of the peace forms are filed with the town clerk.)

For forms and more information on the minor party nomination process, see our Candidates page.

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How can I run as an independent candidate?

Independent candidates file a statement of nomination (petition), consent of candidate form, and financial disclosure forms with the Office of the Secretary of State in order to be placed on the ballot in the general election. Independent candidates for Justice of the Peace file with the town clerk.

Independent candidate’s statements of nomination, consent forms, and financial disclosure forms must be filed no sooner than the fourth Monday in April and no later than 5 p.m. on the Thursday before the statewide primary (petitions for Independent Justice of the Peace candidates are filed with the town clerk no later than three days after the Primary.)

Each candidate for non-federal statewide office, state senate, or state representative must also file a Financial Disclosure form prepared by the State Ethics Commission along with their petition and Consent of Candidate. County office candidates are not required to file a Financial Disclosure.

Each candidate for non-federal statewide office (Governor, Lt. Governor, Treasurer, Secretary of State, Auditor, and Attorney General) are also required to file his or her most recent IRS Form 1040. The law allows for certain information to be redacted

Collect the appropriate number of signatures for the office, fill out the consent of candidate form and the financial disclosure forms, and submit them to the Office of the Secretary of State. Please note that all independent candidates (except for justice of the peace) must file with the Office of the Secretary of State. See 17 V.S.A. §2401.

No candidate appearing on the ballot as a candidate of an organized political party can appear on the ballot as an "Independent.". 17 V.S.A. 2403

For more information please visit our Candidates page.

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Can I be a candidate under my own party name?

Yes. You follow the same rules as an independent candidate. The statute states that the name has to be “substantially different from the name of any organized political party” and “from the political or other name already appearing on any other statement of nomination for the same office then on file with the same officer for the same election.” Except in the case of presidential and vice presidential candidates, the word “independent” may not be used as part of a party name.

If no party is indicated, the word “Independent” will be printed on the ballot. No candidate appearing on the ballot as a candidate of an organized political party can appear on the ballot as an “Independent.” 17 V.S.A. 2403

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How many signatures do I need to collect to appear on the ballot?
  • Statewide candidates must collect 500 signatures
  • State senate candidates must collect 100 signatures
  • State representative candidates must collect 50 signatures
  • County candidates (sheriff, high bailiff, state’s attorney, probate judge, assistant judge) must collect 100 signatures

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Do you have a sample petition form I can use?

Petitions and other forms can be found on the Candidates page.

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Where do I file my petition, consent of candidate, and financial disclosure forms?

All statewide candidates file with the Office of the Secretary of State.

All candidates who run as Independents must file with the Office of the Secretary of State. Independent candidates do not file at the local level (except for independent candidates for justice of the peace, who file with the town clerk).

All minor party candidates must file with the Office of the Secretary of State. Minor parties do not file at the local level.

State senate candidates file with the senatorial district clerk. (listing of Senatorial District Clerks)

State representative candidates file with the representative district clerk (listing of Representative Districts.

County candidates (sheriff, high bailiff, state’s attorney, probate judge, assistant judge) file with the county clerk.

View contact information and office hours for all town and county clerks.

Each candidate for non-federal statewide office, state senate, or state representative must also file a Financial Disclosure form prepared by the State Ethics Commission along with their petition and Consent of Candidate. County office candidates are not required to file a Financial Disclosure.

Each candidate for non-federal statewide office (Governor, Lt. Governor, Treasurer, Secretary of State, Auditor, and Attorney General) are also required to file his or her most recent IRS Form 1040. The law allows for certain information to be redacted.

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Can I run in multiple party primaries in the same election?

No. 17 V.S.A. § 2353(b) prohibits a person’s name from appearing on the primary ballot of more than one party in the same election.

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Who can sign my petition?

Any registered voter in your district. However, voters can not sign more than one petition for the same office, unless more than one nomination is to be made. For example, in a two seat state representative district, a voter could sign a petition for each of those two seats. See 17 V.S.A. §2354.

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Is there a filing fee to become a candidate?

No. (The only filing fee applies to presidential candidates.)

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When can I start collecting signatures?

Whenever you want. Although Vermont Statute is silent on when to start collecting signatures on a petition, if you obtain signatures too far in advance, some of those signors may move from the town they lived in when they originally signed the petition, invalidating the signature.

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Which offices are incompatible (the same person cannot hold at the same time)?

Section 54 of the Vermont Constitution states that the offices of governor, lieutenant governor, Supreme Court justice, treasurer, member of Vermont House or Senate, member of the U.S. Congress, or sheriff, are incompatible offices, meaning the same person cannot serve in any of these offices at the same time.

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Can I submit petitions for more than one office?

Yes, however you cannot hold incompatible offices. In the event you were to win seats in two incompatible offices in the same election, you would have to resign your seat in one of those offices, creating a vacancy.

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If the clerk says I don’t have enough signatures, do I have more time to collect?

Under 17 V.S.A. § 2358, if the petitions do not conform, the officer with whom the petitions were filed has 72 hours to notify the candidate and supplemental petitions can be filed no later than 10 days after the date for filing petitions.

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Can I withdraw as a candidate after submitting my petition?

Yes. A person can withdraw no later than 5 p.m. on the Wednesday after the filing deadline by notifying the town clerk in writing. A candidate can withdraw from the general election up until 5 p.m. on the third day after the primary election.

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Can I put my nickname on the ballot?

Yes. When a candidate signs the consent of candidate form, he or she indicates the name as they wish for it to appear on the ballot. 17 V.S.A. §2361.

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What local offices are elected?

This will vary by town as some towns have charters that change various positions within local government. Most towns will elect the following offices:

Town clerk, town treasurer, selectboard, school board, lister, auditor, constable, and justice of the peace. See 17 V.S.A. §2646.

Check with your town clerk to determine what offices are elected in your town and which ones have open seats in any given year.

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How do I become a candidate for local office?

Candidates for local office must submit a petition containing thirty (30) signatures or one percent of registered voters, whichever is less. 17 V.S.A. §2681(b). The petition shall contain the name of the candidate as it appears on the checklist, the name of the office, and the term of the office sought. Along with their petition, candidates must file a consent of candidate form with the municipal clerk.

Petitions must be turned in to the municipal clerk no later than 5 p.m. on the 6th Monday preceding the election (late January for March Town Meeting Day).

Visit our “Local Candidates” page for more information.

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Which offices are incompatible (the same person cannot hold at the same time)?

See 17 V.S.A. §2647. An auditor cannot be town clerk, town treasurer, selectboard member, first constable, collector of taxes (current or delinquent), trustee of public funds, road commissioner, water commissioner, sewage system or sewage disposal commissioner, or district school director. A spouse of any of these officers cannot be an auditor.

A selectboard member or school board member cannot be a first constable, collector of taxes, town treasurer, auditor, or town agency. Selectboard members cannot be a lister or an assessor.

Town managers cannot hold any elected office in the town or school district.

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When can I file?

For towns using Australian ballot, petitions are due no later than 5 p.m. the sixth Monday before the election. See 17 V.S.A. §2681.

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Can I submit petitions for more than one office?

Yes, however you cannot hold incompatible offices.

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Can I put my nickname on the ballot?

Yes. When a candidate signs the consent of candidate form, he or she indicates the name as they wish for it to appear on the ballot. 17 V.S.A. §2361

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Is there a filing fee to become a candidate?

No. Unless a town or city charter mandates otherwise, there is no filing fee for local candidates.

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Who can sign my petition?

Any registered voter in your municipality. However, voters can not sign more than one petition for the same office, unless more than one nomination is to be made. For example, if there is more than one open seat on the selectboard, a voter could sign a petition for each of these two seats. 17 V.S.A. §2354.

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If the clerk says I don’t have enough signatures, what can I do?

Under 17 V.S.A. § 2681(e), a town clerk must notify a candidate in writing that there is a deficiency. Supplemental petitions can be filed no later than 5 p.m. the Wednesday after the filing deadline.

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Can I withdraw as a candidate after submitting my petition?

A person can withdraw no later than 5 p.m. on the Wednesday after the filing deadline by notifying the town clerk in writing. After that time a person may withdraw up until the ballots are printed.

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My town missed the caucus date called by the state party chairman, can we still organize?

17 V.S.A. § 2306 allows any three or more voters to hold a caucus any time after the date, as long as the same procedures (warning the meeting, posting notice of the meeting, and posting an ad in a newspaper if required) are followed.

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We didn’t have enough people show up to our scheduled caucus. What do we do?

Another caucus can be called for a future date as long as the same procedures for warning the meeting are followed.

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Do I have to advertise the meeting in a local newspaper?

In towns with populations over 3,000, at least 5 days before the meeting, the caucus must be advertised in a newspaper with general circulation in the town or a nonpartisan electronic news media website that specializes in news of the state. 17 V.S.A. § 2303. Multiple towns can be listed in one advertisement to save on costs.

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When does the county committee meeting have to take place?

The first meeting of the county committee must take place not more than 45 days after the date set by the state chair for the town caucus. 17 V.S.A. § 2309

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What documents do I need to mail to the Office of the Secretary of State after caucus?

Each committee must send a copy of the notice sent to warn the meeting, names and contact information for the officers of the committee, and delegates to the county committee. The certification form must include signatures from the chair and secretary of the committee.

Please visit our Party Organization page for information and all forms necessary for party organization at the town, county, and state level.

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What is the difference between a minor and major political party?

A major political party must have received at least five percent of the vote in a statewide election and be organized in at least 30 towns and 7 counties. Minor parties have no minimum number of towns in which they must be organized and need not have received any specific percentage of the vote in the previous election.

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Do we need to fill all the officers for a committee?

Yes. Each committee is required to have a chair, vice-chair, secretary, and treasurer. See 17 V.S.A. § 2314. Each of the officers must be filled in order to be considered organized.

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Can I participate more than one party caucus?

No. A voter is forbidden from participating in more than one biennial town party caucus in the same year. See 17 V.S.A. § 2317.

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How do I find current contact information for town, county, and state political committees?

Please visit our Parties page for more information.

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Contact Information

Elections Division

William Senning, Director

128 State Street

Montpelier, VT 05633-1101

802-828-2363

will.senning@vermont.gov

Admin./General Inquiries

Lori Bjornlund

802-828-2464

lori.bjornlund@vermont.gov

Camp. Finance/Legal/General Inquiries

JP Isabelle

802-828-2304

jp.isabelle@vermont.gov

Lobbying

Elizabeth "Liz" Harrington

802-828-0771

liz.harrington@vermont.gov

Town Clerks/Voter Registration

Lelonie Oatway

802-828-1931

lelonie.oatway@vermont.gov

Mailing Address

Office of the Secretary of State

Elections Division

128 State Street

Montpelier, VT 05633-1101


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