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How to Run for Public Office

July 5, 2017
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Do you have a passion for public service and the people of Georgia? Do you feel strongly about today’s pressing issues? Maybe it’s time you take your opinions a step further than the voting booth … Maybe it’s time to run for public office!

Georgia’s Elected Offices

There are several positions in government selected by the public. Maybe you already know exactly what office you want; But in case you haven’t decided or need the break-down, here’s a complete list:

Statewide Partisan Office

  • U.S. Senator
  • U.S. Representative
  • Governor
  • Lieutenant Governor
  • Secretary of State
  • Attorney General
  • State School Superintendent
  • Commissioner of Agriculture
  • Commissioner of Labor
  • Commissioner of Insurance
  • Public Service Commissioner
  • Presidential Elector
  • State Senator
  • State Representative

Statewide Nonpartisan Offices

  • Justice of Supreme Court
  • Judge of Court of Appeals

 

Local Offices

  • Judge of Superior Court
  • District Attorney
  • Clerk of Superior Court
  • Judge of Probate Court
  • Sheriff
  • Tax Commissioner
  • Judge of State Court
  • Chief Magistrate
  • Solicitor-General of State Court
  • County Commissioner
  • County Coroner
  • County Surveyor
  • County Treasurer
  • County Board of Education Member
  • Judge of Juvenile Court
  • County Superintendent of Schools

Qualifying as a Candidate

Before you can officially run for office, you need to qualify. Qualifying for state offices runs in 2 week-long periods in various locations across the state. If you plan on running for a local office, contact your local elections supervisor for qualifying dates and locations.

To qualify, you must pay a fee which varies based on the type of office. In 2016, these fees (PDF, 119 KB) ranged from $400 to $5,268. Bring your payment along with a valid ID and the appropriate documentation — either a completed declaration of candidacy (if you’re running as a political party candidate) or a notice of candidacy (if you’re running for a non-partisan office) — to qualify. If an agent is submitting the documentation on your behalf, it needs to be complete with a notarized original signature.

Candidate criteria and disqualifications vary by office. Qualifications often include age restrictions, minimum length of citizenship and residency, and other criteria specific to the type of role; Georgia law requires the Commissioner of Agriculture, for example, to be a practical farmer. For a summary of what’s required for your office of interest, check out the Georgia Secretary of State Office’s Qualifications and Disqualifications packet (PDF, 2.13 MB).

Campaigning

Gathering your community’s support is crucial if you want to be elected. And the campaigning process has come a long way from traveling the town to talk with constituents and hand out pamphlets — though that’s definitely still a significant piece.

Many candidates hire professionals to conduct opinion polls and consult with party leaders. Often, the research process will start years before a candidate’s name ends up on the ballot. And once they’ve thrown their hat in the ring, they’ll spread their message with everything from traditional speech-making tours to social media.

Read up on the history of political campaigning with the New Georgia Encyclopedia’s online exhibition, On the Stump. See how branding, advertising, and fundraising techniques have progressed over the years, and find out what might work for you.

Start Here

If you’re interested in pursuing political office, you can find more information and forms on the Georgia Secretary of State website. As we move through different election cycles, information may change. So keep up to date with the latest elections news online or over the phone: 844-753-7825.

About the Author

Rachel Hart is the User Experience Designer and Editorial Manager for GeorgiaGov. She visually organizes information and writes blogs on a variety of government-related topics.

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