Running for Public Office (Part 2)

Running for Public Office (Part 2)

By mark - Posted on 21 December 2011


Running for Public Office (Part 2)


Getting Started


            The Paperwork

Okay you made the decision to run. The next step is filing the necessary paperwork. Nobody likes filling out paperwork but it is necessary. We will only be covering races for local and state offices because the procedure is approximately the same in all of Rhode Island cities and towns. Always check with your local Board of Canvassers. This website is only for giving a guideline on how to run.


The Forms

Filing and running for office is straight forward. As we discussed previously money is the life blood of any campaign. You may begin to fundraise prior to actually filing to run for office. Note that you are ultimately the one responsible for making sure you meet all filing deadlines. If you fail to do so, you could face fines for missing those deadlines. It is strongly recommended that you have someone other than yourself as treasurer. This person must be good with money know the filing procedures and deadlines but most importantly is someone you can trust. Pay special attention to the Late Filing Penalties portion of the Campaign Finance Filing Laws! Some fines can add up at $2/day to hundreds of dollars in penalties!


If you have any trouble, the RI Board of Elections is very helpful with filling out the forms. They are available through the hyperlinks below. All the forms are available as Adobe documents. The forms you need to file during this time are related to campaign organization and finance reporting:


This link takes you to the RI Board of Elections website:


Campaign Finance Laws:

(*New) 2012 Campaign Finance Manual:


(*New) 2012 Summary Guide to Rhode Island Campaign Contributions & Expenditures Reporting Act:


2012 Reporting Schedule

(*New) 2012 Primary Campaign General Election Reporting Schedule:


(*New) 2012 Non-Primary Campaign General Election Reporting Schedule:


Notice of Organization (CF-1)

You will receive an organization key number which will identify you and your campaign finance contributions, donations, expenditures and other expenses.


Summary of Campaign Activity (CF-2)

This is your balance sheet where you report what you took in and what you spent on your campaign.


Schedule of Contributions Received (CF-3)

This is for reporting what contributions you received and in what amounts. A good rule of thumb is to report EVERYTHING. That way your opponent can’t use it against you. They will review everything you submit and try to use it against you. Honesty really is the best policy.



Schedule of Expenditures (CF-4)

This is where you report everything you spent money for your campaign. Signs, palm cards, website design, postage, envelopes, pizza for campaign workers, hats, pins if you spent the money you MUST report it. Always make sure you keep all the receipts. Your opponent will watch this too.


Affidavit for Annual Filing Exemption (CF-5)

You would file this form ONLY if you accept no contributions in excess of $100 in the aggregate from a single source within this calendar year nor make any aggregate expenditure in excess of $1,000 within this calendar year. 


All the forms for campaign finance may be filed electronically after taking a short course from the RI Board of Elections.


** Here is the 2012 Election Calendar with important filing dates for candidates and campaign finance deadlines! **

*** ***


Declaration of Candidacy and Collecting Signatures

When you run for office, you must get and file the paperwork from your local Board of Canvassers for the city or town you live in. The location for those Boards is found here:


The laws are strict on this, in most cases the paperwork MUST be in by 4:00 PM the last business day June. Should you or your opponent not file by the prescribed date and time it could and should be challenged. The most important rule is to never miss a deadline for any reason because your opponent will use it to disqualify you from running.


There is a link to the Declaration of Candidacy form but it is dated for 2010. When the new one becomes available, it will be posted on this website.


Once the Candidacy has been filed you will be given forms where you need to collect signatures that allow your name to be placed on the ballot. Your local Board of Canvassers will inform you how many signatures you need to collect so your name can appear on the ballot. The signatures collected must be from registered voters and in must be in the district that you are running in for office. Please note that you may collect signatures from registered voters whether they are Republican, Democrat or Independent/Unaffiliated. The signatures are collected so your name can appear on the ballot in November.


The Board of Canvassers in most cities and towns will provide a list of registered voters in your district and a map of the district in which you are running. Some cities and towns may charge a nominal fee for this information if you ask for extra copies.


You should collect the signatures yourself. This way you get used to knocking on doors and seeing the voters. Always make sure you are getting the signatures of registered voters. Use the list from the Board of Canvassers. As a general rule of thumb, you should collect ten to fifteen percent MORE signatures than required. Some signatures may be invalidated so you should have more than are required just for that reason. You are in a race; don’t waste time talking to or gathering signatures from people who aren’t on your voter list. File the list earlier than the deadline just in case you do need to collect more signatures.


Each sheet of signatures stands on its own. One invalid signature does not invalidate the entire sheet. If someone is helping you collect signatures, make sure ALL the information is properly filled out and then notarized by the clerk at the Board of Canvassers. You are running for office so you should be the one filing the paperwork. If a mistake is made you could lose before you even get started.


If you are not currently a member of your local Republican city or town committee, it is suggested you join. They know the city, town, precinct, ward or district you are running in. It is also good to get their nomination for your candidacy. There is an Endorsement by Party Committee form but has not yet been updated for 2012.


All the paperwork is filled out, signatures collected and certified and your name will be placed on the ballot for the election on November 6, 2012.