Thursday, June 18, 2015

How to File for Office as an Independent

I am affiliated with Neighbors of Arkansas, a group which believes that state politics should be disconnected from the dysfunctional national party system which is controlled by two private political clubs. That means electing candidates which are independent of any national party and answer only to the people they are supposed to be representing, not a hierarchy which ends in D.C.(or worse, ends in the global interests which fund them both).

Americans have been so seduced into out-sourcing the job of selecting their candidates to these two corrupt entities that they have mostly forgotten what it means to self-govern. Even though we have gone from the richest nation on earth to the most indebted nation on earth in a single generation while Team Red and Team Blue took turns following increasingly similar policies, most of us don't seem to know how to go about taking things back into our own hands. If we wanted to end-run this terminally corrupt system which has so mismanaged the country, what would we do?

You do this: Get a few friends together locally and recruit someone to run for public office (such as state legislature or county office) as an independent candidate. Then help them get on the ballot and win. You don't need thousands of dollars for a filing fee- you would not pay anyone a filing fee. It does not take millions of dollars to win these races, nor hundreds of thousands.  Rather it only takes sums which are well within reach of a decent candidate. A $100 contribution to a campaign for a state office is essentially free with the use of the state tax credit for modest contributions.

It is not like it would take much to improve on what we have now. For example, consider the ten worst bills that became law last regular session. If you can find a candidate who would vote against most of those bills, the odds are very strong that they would be better than what you have now.

Is following the instructions below a hassle? Yes. More than they should be, but far, far less than what our forebears went through in order to grant us the heritage of living in freedom. Let's not be the generation that loses it because we could not be bothered to wade through some paperwork!

Here is a rundown of what it takes to get on the ballot this cycle:

1. For state legislature and county offices, you have 90 days, starting August 11th and ending noon on November the 9th to collect voter signatures from the district equal in number to 3% of the vote for Governor in the last election within the boundaries of the office in question. The signatures are to be gathered on the petition form on page 51 of this book for state legislative offices or the petition form on page 52 for county offices.

For state legislative district boundaries, look here. For County JPs district boundaries, check your County Clerk's office.

How many good signatures does it take? For State Representative seats, usually around 380. For State Senate Seats, it takes 800 or so good signatures. The Elections Division of the Secretary of State's office has a duty to provide the exact number for any state office. Here is their contact information.

Phone: 501-682-5070
Toll Free outside the Little Rock area:  (800) 482-1127

For County offices, the number of signatures required will vary widely depending on the population of the County. Your County Clerk has a duty to provide that data. We can help you did it up if they refuse their duty. Remember that you need at least 20% more signatures than the minimum because some of them could be disallowed because they are not registered voters or don't live in the right district. The SOS website has a place where you can pre-check your voters to see if they are valid.

2. So let's say you start August 11th and get the required voter signatures by September 30th. What is next? Next is that you file for office between noon on 2 November and ending at noon on November the 9th. If you are filing for the state legislature, you take your signatures, along with a few other docs we will mention, to the Capital Building in Little Rock and file. If you are filing for a county office you take them to the County Clerk. No filing fee is required as an Independent. You just bring signatures saying that voters want you on the ballot, you don't have to pay thousands of dollars to a private political club to get on the ballot.

3. What other forms do you need to file for office besides the petitions?
A. The "Notice of Candidacy" on page 48
B. The "Affidavit of Eligibility" on page 47
C. A "Political Practices Pledge" which is discussed on page 38, but no sample form is given. We suggest you create one which meets the standards described on that page just in case there are none available when you file (the SOS Office normally makes up such forms and has them on hand during the filing period).
D. A "Statement of Financial Interest" from the Ethics Commission


A new requirement has been snuck into the law books for independents filing for office, one that it appears has not yet made it to the SOS Candidate Handbook. That is found on the second page of this new law. It says you have to include another affidavit saying that the signatures on the petitions were produced lawfully and within the prescribed times. I would anticipate the SOS Office will have the new forms available, along with a notary to vouch them, during the filing period. Many court houses may not know about the law though, so I would create a form from the wording on page two and sign it in front of a notary just in case.


That wraps up what it takes to file for public office. Running and winning is another question. If you want to help someone get elected and want help from Neighbors on the process, please don't hesitate to contact us.


Document links:
Arkansas Secretary of State's Candidate Handbook "Running for Public Office". This is the key publication.

Find the district lines of a particular state legislative district.

Election Dates Calendar for 2016.


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