A Candidate's Guide
We have a number of people ask what they need to do to become a candidate. This summary is meant to serve as a brief guide for potential candidates. Please contact us with any questions.
To be placed on the ballot, you have to pick up a petition at the Cannon County Election Commission office located at 301 W. Main Street, Woodbury, TN 37190. You must get 25 registered voters from the jurisdiction you are running in to sign the petition. The commission can only count registered voters who list the address we have on file. The petitions must be returned to the Election Commission office by the qualifying deadline (Always NOON on the final day). The candidate does not have to return it personally. It is acceptable to mail it or have someone else drop it off. The Election Commission does need the original petition so faxes or emails will not be accepted.
Before a candidate raises or spends any money, the candidate needs to file an “Appointment of Political Treasurer” with the Election Commission. This form is available at our office or at https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/tref/documents/ss-1120%20rev.%2011.18.pdf You can print it out online and bring it to us. We must have the original, so a fax or email will not work. You may file the Appointment of Political Treasurer at any time, but it must be filed before you raise or spend any money. The Registry of Election Finance has said that “incidental” expenses while you are thinking about running do not count. There are different regulations for judicial candidates, so please ask us before soliciting any campaign funds.
A judicial candidate’s committee shall not solicit campaign contributions earlier than 180 before an election. However, a judicial candidate may appoint a Treasurer and spend personal funds prior to this deadline.
You must file an Appointment of Treasurer for each election cycle. If you are running for re-election, or if you ran last time, a new Appointment of Treasurer needs to be filed. You can transfer the money over form your account from the last election but you have to file a new form for each election. You must appoint a Treasurer for the campaign you are announced for.
For offices other than a Mayor, a person may be exempt from filing a Campaign Financial Disclosure. The office for which a person may be exempt MUST be part-time, compensation less than $1,000 per month AND must plan to spend less than $1,000 on the campaign. If you find that during the campaign you have spent or have had in kind contributions in aggregate of more than $1000 you must file a disclosure. Keeping good records of expenses and contributions associated with your campaign is a good practice.
Keep in mind one important change in the Campaign Finance Laws. It is now against the law to make donations in cash that in the aggregate exceed fifty dollars ($50). (T.C.A. §2-10-311). The contribution limits in TCA§ 2-10-302 still apply. For local candidates, the maximum aggregate contribution is one thousand, five-hundred dollars ($1,500). (“Fishbowl” contributions are more fully explained on our website)
The State Registry of Election Finance (615-741-7959) has jurisdiction over election finance issues. The Cannon County Election Commission merely files the reports and makes them available to the public. The state office can answer any question you have about financial reports or requirements.
Finally, within 30 days after the qualifying deadline, a candidate must file a Conflict of Interest Statement with the Tennessee Ethics Commission in Nashville. You can contact them at 615-741-7959.
Once a candidate files an Appointment of Treasurer, the candidate is required to file periodic disclosure reports. The reports are to be filed quarterly during the election year and semi-annually in either the year(s) before or after. Additionally, a report is due 10 days before any election. Our office will notify you by mail of any forms due under this statute.
Potential candidates may wonder how they can declare or announce they are running. Individuals may be announced candidates and may begin soliciting campaign funds at any time before the election. That is a political strategy issue and each candidate must make that decision.
Here are some websites that might be helpful:
Cannon County Election Commission:
The Registry of Election Finance:
Tennessee Ethics Commission:
Please contact us with any questions you may have.