(We put this up before the Secretary of State put up their helpful page for 2016 Candidate's Guide to Primary and General Elections. That has many useful links, but does not have some of the information here, especially about the local party. If that page or its links say something different from what we have below, they are probably what the courts will follow: please tell us if you spot a difference, so we can correct this as needed. Thanks.)
Who holds the office now?
See the pdf document at this page. The first four pages list partisan offices, in descending ballot order from President down to Constable (later pages list non-partisan city, school, and water district offices). This also shows the length of their term and when they are up for reelection. It DOES NOT show what their party is. To find that see this page and click on the name of the elected official.
Do I live in the district for this office?
Except for Justices of the Peace, all Judges in Dallas County are elected county-wide. You can find out which other districts you live in on the Dallas County Election Department website at this page. Enter your name, birth date, and address and it will take you to your voter information. Click on "My Districts" under Voter Links, and it will show you what districts you are in.
What are the boundaries of this district?
The Dallas County Election Department website has a page called 2013 Voting Precincts. This has a list of links to pdfs of the various districts. Warning: there have been a few minor or tiny changes at the edge of some of the State House of Representative districts since the 2012 elections, often involving precincts with no actual voters. Make sure you get the latest information if you are seeking that office.
Am I eligible to hold the office?
See this page for most state and local offices.
What do I do first?
APPOINT A TREASURER. You may not take or spend any money until you do. Find out more at the Texas Ethics Commission.
Notes from their instructions: "If you plan to run for a public office in Texas (except for a federal office), you must file this form when you become a candidate even if you do not intend to accept campaign contributions or make campaign expenditures."
"A filing fee paid to a filing authority to qualify for a place on a ballot is a campaign expenditure that may not be made before filing a campaign treasurer appointment form with the proper filing authority."
There are different forms to file when designating a Treasurer, depending on the type of office you seek:
If you are running for a non-judicial office, then you will file the Non-Judicial Candidate Form. Note that candidates for Justice of the Peace are considered Non-Judicial by the TEC for this purpose.
If you are running for a judicial office, then you will file the Judicial Candidate Form. There are also additional rules about campaign finance and reporting for Judicial candidates; see the TEC site for more information at this page.
The filing is not over once you appoint a Treasurer. The person you appoint will have to file campaign reports with the TEC; check their site for details. There are fines for not filing or for incorrect filing. This is serious stuff, and your opponents can file against you for damages if you do not comply with the rules on this.
If you are running for Congress or US Senate, the federal rules are different, allowing a candidate to raise and spend money "to test the waters, or explore the feasibility of becoming a candidate" before appointing a treasurer; see the instructions at the Federal Election Commission.
When I print literature, signs, stickers, etc., what disclosure information do I have to include?
You can find the Texas rules on this at the Texas Ethics Commission page on Political Advertising. Most literature and stickers does need information about who paid for them. Signs also need a notice not to be placed in a highway right of way.
How do I get on the Democratic Primary ballot?
File this form (instructions are on page 2). For 2016, filing for public office begins on November 14, 2015, and ends on December 14, 2015. (Precinct Chairs are not considered as public officers for this purpose; they began filing on September 15, with the same ending date on December 14, 2015.)
The form must be notarized. (The DCDP office usually has a notary present -- but please call first to confirm.)
Where do I file for office?
"The application is filed with the county chair for the single-county district offices, county and precinct offices. The application is filed with the state chair if the office sought is a multi-county district office or state office." For Dallas County, we will accept your filings at the Dallas County Democratic Party office.
When do I file for office?
For the 2016 elections, filing for public office opens November 14, 2015, and closes at 6 PM on December 14, 2015.
The filing deadline is 6 PM on Monday, December 14; will the DCDP office stay open until then?
Yes. (We will also be open the last weekend, Saturday Dec. 12 and Sunday afternoon Dec. 13.)
Can I file for office before that?
Once filing has begun, you can file any time up through the last day -- and please don't wait for that! If you want to bring your forms or petitions by earlier for us to take an unofficial look to see if you seem to be doing it correctly, we will be happy to.
Is there a fee to file for office?
There is no fee to file for Precinct Chair. For public office, yes, there is a filing fee, unless you submit signatures of voters on a petition instead of a filing fee. [Candidates for Judge and for Justice of the Peace in Dallas County must submit some signatures even if they do pay a filing fee; they have to turn in even more signatures to avoid paying any fee.] The fees (and the number of signatures required) are prescribed by state law. These may be found in the Texas Election Code as follows:
Sec. 172.024. FILING FEE. (a) The filing fee for a candidate for nomination in the general primary election is as follows:
(1) United States senator $5,000
(2) office elected statewide, except United States senator 3,750
(3) United States representative 3,125
(4) state senator 1,250
(5) state representative 750
(6) member, State Board of Education 300
(7) chief justice or justice, court of appeals, other than a justice specified by Subdivision (8) 1,875
(8) chief justice or justice of a court of appeals that serves a court of appeals district in which a county with a population of more than one million is wholly or partly situated 2,500
(9) district judge or judge specified by Section 52.092(d) for which this schedule does not otherwise prescribe a fee 1,500
(10) district or criminal district judge of a court in a judicial district wholly contained in a county with a population of more than 1.5 million 2,500
(12) judge of a statutory county court in a county with a population of more than 1.5 million 2,500
(13) district attorney, criminal district attorney, or county attorney performing the duties of a district attorney 1,250
(14) county commissioner, district clerk, county clerk, sheriff, county tax assessor-collector, county treasurer, or judge, constitutional county court: (A) county with a population of 200,000 or more 1,250
(15) justice of the peace or constable: (A) county with a population of 200,000 or more 1,000
The population of Dallas County in the 2010 Census was 2,368,139, so the highest numbers apply here [including for the 5th District Court of Appeals, which is what number (8) above refers to]. We did not show here the lower fees for the less populous counties.
Note again: there is no filing fee for Precinct Chair.
Remember the TEC note above: you must file your Treasurer before paying the filing fee for public office. We recommend including a copy of your designation of Treasurer form when you file for office.
Do I get the filing fee back later?
No, unless the candidate dies, or is declared ineligible, or the filing doesn't comply with the requirements (Section 141.038). Whether you win, lose, or make it to a runoff, the fee goes toward Primary election expenses.
How many signatures must a candidate file in order not to have to pay a filing fee?
For a statewide office, 5000 signatures. For a non-judicial district, county, or precinct office [such as Constable], 500. [It's even more for judicial offices.] (Section 172.025. There are provisions for lesser numbers in much less populous counties that do not apply to Dallas County.)
NOTICE OF CHANGE TO LAW -- PETITIONS NO LONGER REQUIRED FOR JUDICIAL AND JP CANDIDATES WHO PAY A FILING FEE:
The Texas Election Code formerly required candidates for Judge and for Justice of the Peace in the largest counties (including Dallas) to ALSO submit signatures on a petition to get on the Primary Ballot. THIS WAS REPEALED IN 2015, BY S. B. 1073, which deleted Sections 172.021(e) and (g) of the code. Candidates who wish to file without paying a filing fee must still submit petitions instead. See the bill with its amendments at this page: http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/84R/billtext/html/SB01073F.HTM
How many signatures must a candidate for Judge or for JP in Dallas County or for 5th District Court of Appeals file if they submit signatures instead of a filing fee?
500 (required by 172.025(2). (Note: the 5th District Court of Appeals crosses county lines, so files in Austin.)
Do the voters who sign the petition have to live in my district?
Yes. If you are running county-wide, they need only live in Dallas County. If you are running in a less than county-wide district, such as for Justice of the Peace or Constable, only voters registered in your own district can sign your petition. See Section 172.021(b) and (e), referring to Section 141.062, which refers to Section 141.063 (a)(1): "A signature on a petition is valid if: ... the signer, at the time of signing, is a registered voter of the territory from which the office sought is elected...." Signatures from outside the county, or the district if less than county-wide, are not valid and do not count. Your opponents, Democratic or Republican, can check these to see if they can kick you off the ballot for not having enough valid signers.
When can I start collecting signatures on a petition?
Now. Many candidates have already begun collecting signatures.
Where do I get the petition?
The petition form [called Petition in Lieu of a Filing Fee and/or Petition for Judicial Office (for use in a primary election)] and its instructions (on page 2) is online as a pdf at this page. YES, this same form is used for filing signatures instead of paying a fee by any candidates (such as Constable), and was formerly ALSO used for the signatures candidates for Judge or Justice of the Peace formerly had to turn in even if they did pay a filing fee. (Note: there is a different form for statewide judicial candidates, which includes the Court of Appeals district number as well; see the Secretary of State's Election Department website for that one if you are running one of those races.)
What if a signer doesn't have their Voter Registration card? How do I get their Voter VUID number?
Most won't have their card with them. If they put down their name, address, and date of birth, you can find the number by looking them up at the Dallas County Election Department website. Note: the instructions only require either the date of birth or the VUID number, but you do need to look up your signers to make sure they are correct about being registered and in your district (or county, for county-wide offices). When you do it will make it easier on you to add that VUID to the petition. Not doing so is a sure red flag to opponents.
What happens when I turn in petitions, and will you make me a copy?
You really seriously need to get your petitions notarized and make your own copy before you file them, for your own use and protection. Many people may be turning in petitions at once, and we will not be able to stop and make copies then. We will give you a receipt for your filing form, fee (if any), and, if you submit a petition, for a petition of x pages (for the receipt, we will only count the number of pages, not the signatures). Later we will examine the petitions for compliance with form, etc., including counting the apparently valid signatures. We have five days to see if the petition appears to comply, and to notify you if it doesn't. Hopefully, it won't take that long -- unless there is a huge rush all at one time, as may happen on the last day. If you happen to turn them in on a day without a lot of others ahead of you, we may be able to tell within hours or less. After we have examined them, if you still want a copy of your own, you can get them, but you should already have that.
Can I get a copy of my opponent's petitions to examine? Can they get a copy of mine?
Yes, you can, and yes, they can, but not just as soon as these are turned in. First we check for apparent compliance. We will do that as quickly as possible, but, again, this may take many hours or even days when there are a whole lot filed at once. Once we see that a filing seems to comply, then we can make copies available as soon as we reasonably have time to make them. We are scanning the petitions so that they can be emailed quickly (and for free), instead of tediously copied physically for each request. (Physical copies can still be made later, for a reasonable fee, if needed for litigation, etc.) If needed we can even let someone physically examine the originals, but only with one of our staff present and watching them at all times. If a petition does not seem to comply, we will notify the candidate that it is rejected. If this happens before the filing deadline, the candidate can amend it by turning in more signatures. Petitions may not be amended after the filing deadline.
Should I file early or late in the filing period?
Legally, it makes no difference. When you file in this period will not affect the order of the names on the Primary ballot, because that is determined by a drawing after the filing is over. Candidates or their representatives may be present for the drawing. Practically, if you are just turning in a filing form and fee, it will only take a few minutes. If you are turning in a petition, that takes a bit longer, as we count the petition pages for the receipt. The last day of filing may have several candidates turning theirs in, so there may even be a waiting line.
When is the 2016 Primary?
The 2016 Democratic Primary is scheduled for Tuesday, March 1, 2016.
How do I get endorsed in the Primary?
The Dallas County Democratic Party does not endorse or support opposed candidates in the Primary, and aims to treat the candidates equally. Individual Precinct Chairs and other party officials and activists or elected officials may give personal endorsements or support in Primary contests (and many do). There are some Democratic clubs and organizations, listed on our website, which do sometimes make endorsements in Primaries, including the Dallas County Young Democrats and the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. We have not even attempted to start listing various groups, many national or statewide ones, which directly or through their own Political Action Committees, may make endorsements and contributions in Primaries.
How do I find out about events where I can meet with other Democrats?
Check out our party website Calendar and subscribe to our weekly email Roundup (use the "Sign up for our e-mail newsletter" space at the top right of our party website). You can also contact the various Democratic clubs listed on our Clubs page and ask them if you can speak or be introduced at their meetings. (Some may even have debates for Primary contests.)
How do I get my campaign on the website list of candidates?
All you need to do is file for the Primary. We'll post it online as soon as possible, once your filing is found to be in apparent compliance (which might not be the same day). Our website page will include links to websites, facebook pages, and twitter accounrts for those who have actually filed, as will the Texas Democratic Party for statewide candidates and those whose districts cross county lines. Even before you formally file, we can list kickoffs and other campaign events of our website calendar and in our weekly Roundup.
How do I get my information and events listed on the party website calendar and in the email Roundup?
Send the information by email to the editor, BillHowellDCDP AT yahoo.com. Make sure to also give us the address of your website, and please send a picture (just plain: no logos, no labels, and no layers). We were formerly quite limited to how many photos we could use in each issue, but we tried to be fair to everyone over time. Now we have expanded space available for pictures, but it's not infinite; please bear with us.
When I win the Primary, am I the Democratic nominee?
Only if you win a majority of the vote. In Texas, if no one wins a majority in the Primary, there is a Runoff between the top two finishers in the Primary. The winner of the Primary, or of the Runoff if needed, is the nominee.
When I win the Primary, will the party give me money for my campaign in the general election?
Probably we will be asking you to help in our coordinated efforts for the whole Democratic ticket. We raise and spend a lot on that every two years, and our candidates contribute a lot to it, and it has been very successful in Dallas County, but it is directed to helping the whole slate, not just a particular campaign.
There are many Democratic organizations, again, many of them national or statewide, which do contribute to individual candidates. Some of these are groups like the Democratic Congressional and legislative campaign committees, and more of them are interest groups of many kinds (labor, legal, environmental, civil rights, and so on). You or your campaign will need to contact them on your own.
The sad truth is that the more important the office sought, the more time and effort has to be spent on raising campaign funds, and the most effective fundraiser is almost always the candidate. Plan on making a lot of calls and visits yourself to raise money. The party will work beside you to elect the entire Democratic ticket, but we can't finance you.
Can I use the party email or mailing lists?
NO. We frequently get this request, but, sorry, the DCDP has adopted strict policies on privacy and on email lists in particular. You can find them on our website at this page. You can find a list of our Precinct Chairs, almost all with phone numbers, at this page; you may call and ask them for email addresses, if they wish to give them.
We will list your campaign website and other contact information on our website Calendar and in our weekly email Roundup for campaign events, and on our candidate page once filing begins. We will offer you a chance to participate in our coordinated campaign efforts and events after the Primary. With your help we will put together a unified drive for all the Democrats for the November general election. But we cannot break our promises about privacy to our supporters.
Do I need a campaign manager or consultant?
It is not required, but it can be a very good idea, even if they are just a friend who is volunteering (and some people have won elections that way). Even if you are running a very low-budget all-volunteer grass-roots campaign, it is important to have one person you trust completely to be objective and tell you the truth about your effort. As you get close to election day, your perception may be distorted by unwarranted enthusiasm, unjustified concern, or just total exhaustion. Someone needs to be able to stand back, look at the facts, and keep you on track or convince you to make a change in strategy or tactics. You should not assume you will keep a clear head under the stress of a campaign. If your campaign can afford a professional, either managing or consulting, it could be helpful; but you really do need someone, paid or not, you will trust and listen to when things get really hectic. (And please, do not put your spouse or significant other in a position of being the one who might have to bear what might be bad, or at least sobering, news about your campaign.)
Do you have a list of managers/consultants?
The DCDP does not keep such an official registry or list. Many active Democrats can tell you names of people they've heard of in this field. A great source of information is current elected officials or recent candidates, who can tell you their own experience with such persons or firms. There are more local ones than just a few years ago, now that we've elected so many more Democrats to office here.
Caveat: We have tried to find accurate information and links to sites and forms on this page, but we don't pretend to offer legal advice. If you want to be sure of being correct and up to date, have your own campaign attorney check this out for you. If you do find inaccuracies or more recent information, please contact the party office so that we can quickly correct this. Thanks.