Run for Public Office

Running for public office requires following a number of key steps.

If you’re interested in running for office, please be aware that information and qualifications may change as we move through different election cycles. You can keep up to date with the latest elections news online or by contacting the Georgia Secretary of State.

How Do I … Run for Public Office?

  • Decide How You Want to Run

    There are four ways to become a candidate for office. Although each of the following is an option, the most common way to be elected in Georgia is to seek the backing of a major political party, most often the Democrats or Republicans.

    • Seek nomination from political party

      If you’re a member of a state-recognized political party, you can be nominated as that party’s candidate in that party’s primary election. First, you will need to meet that party’s requirements to get on the ballot. These are in addition to the state’s qualifications (see Step 3).

    • Run as a political organization candidate by petition or nomination

      A group is considered a political organization versus a political party if its candidate for governor or president fails to receive 20 percent of the votes in the last general election. If you’re a member of one of these political organizations, you can petition to run as a candidate or be nominated at your organization’s state-sanctioned convention. To do this, you must first meet that organization’s  requirements to get on the ballot. These are in addition to the state’s qualifications (see Step 3). If you petition to run, the number of signatures required varies by office and by year. No petition can circulate for more than 180 days between the first and last signature.

    • Petition to run as an independent candidate

      Petition requirements for independent candidates vary by office and by year. No petition can circulate for more than 180 days between the first and last signature. In addition to petition requirements, you’ll need to meet the state’s qualifications (see Step 3).

    • Run as a write-in candidate

      Write-in candidates may only run in the general election. You are not required to petition, but there are state qualifications you need to meet (see Step 3).


  • Choose an Elected Office

    There are several positions in government selected by the public.

    • 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
  • Qualify to Run

    Before you can officially run for office, you need to qualify.

    • Qualifications vary by office. 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.
    • Qualification dates and locations vary by year and by office:
      • State office – qualifying periods for state offices run in 2-week stretches in various locations across the state
      • Local office – contact your local elections supervisor for qualifying dates and locations.
    • All candidates must pay a qualifying fee. To find out what the current fee is for your office, review the Qualifying Information on the Secretary of State’s website. If you’re unable to pay the fee, you can submit a pauper’s affidavit and qualifying petition.
    • When you go to qualify at your designated location (remember, qualification dates and locations vary by office and by year, so be sure you have the correct date and address before you go to qualify), bring a valid photo ID and the appropriate documentation:
      • Political party candidate – your completed declaration of candidacy form
      • Non-partisan office – your completed notice of candidacy form
  • Campaign for Office

    Gathering your community’s support is crucial if you want to be elected. You do this by campaigning, a process which involves everything from speech-making tours and debates to traditional advertising, phone campaigns, and social media.

    Many candidates hire professionals to conduct opinion polls and consult with party leaders. To learn how political campaigning has progressed over the years — and find out what might work for you — check out New Georgia Encyclopedia’s online exhibition, On the Stump.

  • Next Steps

    If you win the election, then the next step is preparing to get to work for your fellow Georgians! You’ll most likely work closely with the person currently holding office to ensure a smooth transition. If you don’t win, you can either end your bid for public office or wait until you’re eligible to run again — either for the same position or another one, depending on your political aspirations and interests.

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