Party Candidate Qualification

Party officials set qualifications for party candidates, receive declarations of candidacy, notify the Secretary of State if the party wishes to enter a primary, and fill vacancies in nominations.

The governing body of a party may establish assessments as qualifying fees upon candidates who are able to pay or other qualifications to become candidates for nomination to offices at a primary election. These assessments cannot exceed 2 percent of one year’s salary of the office sought. For unremunerative or party offices the limits are: $150 for offices filled by a vote of the entire state and $50 for all others.

A political party may not have a nominee who was a candidate for nomination of a different party in the primary election of that year.

In order to become a party’s nominee for office, the candidate must receive a majority of the votes in the first primary. If a candidate fails to obtain a majority vote, a second primary (or run-off) becomes necessary between the two candidates who received the highest number of votes in the first primary.

Should a candidate decide not to enter the run-off, that candidate must notify either the state party chairman or the county party chairman, depending on the office sought, within three days after the first primary. The party official will then declare the remaining candidate the nominee and certify their name to the secretary of state or the probate judge, whichever is appropriate.

General Qualifications for Primary Candidacy

A person must meet three basic eligibility requirements to be a candidate in a party primary election:

  1. The person must be legally qualified for the office. This means a person must fulfill both statutory and state constitutional requirements for the office.
  2. The person must be eligible to vote in the primary election in which the person is a candidate. Thus, a person has to be a registered voter in the state.
  3. The person must also possess the political qualifications prescribed by their political party.

Qualifications for a Specific Office

Certain elective offices have qualifications mandated by the Alabama Constitution of 1901.

Legislators. State senators must be at least 25 years of age and state representatives must be at least 21 years of age at the time of their election. They must have been citizens and residents of Alabama for at least three years and residents of their respective districts for one year before their election. Following their election, both senators and representatives must continue to reside in their respective districts.

Judges. No person shall be elected or appointed to a judicial office after reaching the age of seventy years. (Amendment 328, Section 6.16, to the Alabama Constitution)

Probate Judge. In addition to the above, a candidate for the office of probate judge must be a citizen of the state and have resided in the county for which he seeks the office one year prior to the election.

County Commissioner. One important qualification prescribed by statute for the office of county commissioner, aside from other qualifications for public officers generally, is the requirement that the candidate be a qualified elector of the county and must reside in the district they seek to represent. Specific qualifications include:

Sheriff. Except for the term of office, Alabama Code does not expressly provide qualifications for the office of sheriff. A deputy sheriff may be required by the sheriff to take an unpaid leave of absence or resign his position if the deputy sheriff seeks election for the office of sheriff.

Tax Assessor, Tax Collector and Revenue Commissioner. The tax assessor, tax collector or revenue commissioner must be a qualified voter of the county but must not come within any of the categories of ineligibility provided by law.