Major Party Candidates
Candidates at every level of government must file a statement of economic interest within five (5) days of becoming a “candidate” as defined by Alabama’s Fair Campaign Practices Act (FCPA). For the purposes of the FCPA, a person becomes a candidate by either reaching the threshold amount for their office or qualifying as a candidate with a political party.
The names of all primary candidates must be certified to the Secretary of State or the respective probate judge depending on the office sought. The party chairman must, no later than 5:00 p.m., 55 days prior to the election, certify to the Secretary of State the names of all primary candidates except those for county offices. The Secretary of State is then required to certify to the probate judge of every county in which an election is to be held the names of all the candidates except the candidates for county offices. This must be accomplished not less than 50 days prior to the date of the primary election. The county party chairman certifies to the probate judge all the names of candidates for county office. The probate judge is then responsible for seeing that the names of all legally qualified candidates appear on the ballot.
If a legally qualified candidate for election to a public or party office is unopposed after the last qualifying date, the candidate’s name will not appear on the primary ballot. The unopposed candidate for a public office shall be declared the nominee of the party. The unopposed candidate for a party office will be declared elected.
Independent and Minor Party Candidates
Independent candidates or candidates nominated by caucuses or mass meetings follow a different procedure from those nominated by primary election to have their names printed on the general election ballot.
A candidate is entitled to have his/her name on the ballot if the candidate has been put in nomination by primary election and certified in writing by the chairman and secretary of the canvassing board (party executive committee) of the party holding the primary and filed with the probate judge of the county in the case of a candidate for county office, and filed with the Secretary of State in all other cases.
No independent candidate may have been a candidate in a primary election of that year and the name of any nominee of a political party who was a candidate for the nomination of a different political party in that primary election of that year.
The filing must be on the day next following the last day for contesting the primary election for that office if no contest is filed. If a contest is filed, then the certificate for the contested office must be filed on the day next following the date of settlement or decision of the contest.
Also a candidate is entitled to be on the ballot when a political party has placed the candidate in nomination by caucus, convention, mass meeting, or other assembly of any political party or faction and the nomination has been certified in writing by the chairman and secretary of the group, and filed with the probate judge if seeking county office, or filed with the Secretary of State in all other cases. Candidate filing must be on or before 5 p.m., on the date of the first primary election.
Political parties that do not reach the statutory thresholds for ballot access can reach the ballot through the petition process. The number of qualified electors required to sign the petition must equal or exceed three percent of the total number of registered voters who voted for the office of Governor during the last general election for the state, county, city, district in which the office seeks to qualify candidates. The petition signature required for ballot access for an independent candidate are the same as those of a minor political party.
The Secretary of State must certify to the probate judge of each county the names of statewide, district, or circuit candidates who have qualified to have their names printed on the ballot no later than 45 days after the second primary. The probate judge then has the responsibility of preparing the ballots for printing of candidates’ names on the ballot.
The Secretary of State has the obligation to review the qualifications based on facts within their official knowledge and no duty to investigate facts not within their official knowledge.