Considering candidacy for an elected office? You’ll find the information included here useful, but be sure to refer to the website of the Office of the Secretary of State and Colorado Revised Statutes and election rules for comprehensive information regarding election procedures and consult with legal counsel.
1. Confirm your voter registration and party affiliation
Verify that your voter registration, date of registration, and party affiliation are accurate and up to date by visiting GoVoteColorado.gov and selecting Find My Registration. Your party affiliation and registration date may impact your candidacy options: “No person is eligible for designation by assembly as a candidate for nomination at any primary election unless the person was affiliated with the political party holding the assembly, as shown in the statewide voter registration system, no later than the 1st business day of the January immediately preceding the primary election, unless otherwise provided by party rules.” (C.R.S. 1-4-601 (4)(A))
2. Review qualifications for elected offices
County office candidates, including Assessor, Clerk, Commissioner, Coroner, Sheriff, and Surveyor must meet qualifications outlined in General Qualifications for County Office.
Federal and State office candidates must meet citizenship and residency qualifications, outlined on the Secretary of State website. Municipal office candidates should contact their municipal offices, and review information available on their web sites:
Douglas County School District – candidates will find guidelines on the Secretary of State School District Information web page, and by contacting the Designated Election Official at the Douglas County School District. School board, as well as municipal and special district elections, are non-partisan with unique nomination processes.
3. Ballot Access for County Offices
Federal, state, and county office elections are partisan, and candidates are generally selected through political party processes. However, there are various ways in which a candidate for county office may access the ballot. They are summarized here:
- Nomination by assembly of a major or minor political party
- Petition as a major or minor political party candidate
- Petition as an unaffiliated candidate
- Write-in affidavit
Candidates seeking party nomination should contact their respective political parties. For major and minor political party contact information, please visit our Partner Agencies information page. Some considerations: Unless party rules state otherwise, candidates for nomination by assembly of that party must be registered as affiliated with the party no later than the first business day of January of the election year. To be certified as a candidate at a party assembly, a candidate must receive at least 30% of the votes cast by delegates at the assembly.
Major party candidates nominated by party assembly are placed on the Primary Election ballot. Minor party candidates nominated by assembly are placed on the general election ballot unless there is more than one candidate for that office nominated by assembly and/or petition; then the candidates are placed on the Primary Election ballot.
The certification of Designation by Assembly must be filed by the political party with the designated election official no later than four days after the adjournment of the assembly. Certificates of Designation may be transmitted by fax; however, the original certificate must also be filed and postmarked no later than ten days after the adjournment of the assembly.
Detailed nomination information, including timelines and minimum vote thresholds, is available in Colorado Revised Statutes, C.R.S 1-4-601, “Political Party Designation for Primary Election.” This section of the statutes is available on the Secretary of State website.
To be nominated by petition, a candidate circulates petitions to registered voters who share their party affiliation to obtain signatures in support of their candidacy.
Unaffiliated candidates access the ballot through the petition process. Unaffiliated candidates nominated by petition are placed directly on the General Election ballot; there is no primary election for unaffiliated candidates. An unaffiliated candidate must be registered as unaffiliated no later than the first business day of the specific election year to petition for office.
Affiliated candidates (in a major or minor party) may use the petition option when they do not have sufficient support from their party to get on the Primary or General Election ballot through their party’s assembly process, or if they choose not to pursue the assembly process. However, if a candidate has attempted to be nominated through the assembly process but has failed to receive at least 10% of the votes for the same office, he/she may not petition for that office.
Petitions for county offices must be filed with and reviewed by the County Clerk and Recorder:
Douglas County Clerk and Recorder
301 Wilcox Street
Castle Rock, CO 80104
Hours: M-F, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Major party candidates pursuing access by petition should review C.R.S. 1-4-801, “Designation of party candidates by petition”; minor party and unaffiliated candidates should review 1-4-802, “Petitions for nominating minor political party and unaffiliated candidates for a partisan office” on the Secretary of State website.
Write-in candidates’ names do not appear on the ballot, but voters may support them for office by writing in their names. Write-in candidates must file an “Affidavit of Intent” with the County Clerk and Recorder. Review C.R.S. 1-4-1101, “Write-in Candidates,” and contact the County Clerk and Recorder for additional information.
4. Understand Campaign Finance Rules
Comprehensive campaign finance information is available on the Colorado Secretary of State website. The website contains detailed information about all aspects of campaign finance and disclosure, including two useful links:
- The Colorado Campaign and Political Finance Manual provides guidelines for compliance with regulations.
- The Secretary of State website also outlines the TRACER system for all campaign finance disclosure reports and committee registration. Candidates should familiarize themselves with TRACER, which contains detailed financial records and related information that candidates and committees are required by law to disclose.