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Running for Congress? Hire an Election Law Lawyer.

Political Law By Binnall Law Group - 2022/10/05 at 02:20pm

By: Jared J. Roberts

Today’s political climate, while often tedious and downright hostile, has had one positive outcome: More people are now involved in our elections process than ever before. This includes new people wanting to get involved and run for Congress. People who had never thought a Congressional run to be possible before but are now inspired to get involved and help make a change. If you are one of these people, you should consider talking with an election law lawyer before you do anything else.

When running for United States Congress, there are many rules you, the candidate, and your campaign will have to follow. The first step is to get on the ballot. In order to do this, you will need to go through a primary vote for your party. To get on the primary ballot, there are various requirements per state regarding the number of signatures that you need. The number of signatures can vary from a few hundred to a few thousand, and it is very important that you get this step right. One of the most common ways prospective candidates are kicked off the ballot before the voting even begins is by not having enough valid signatures.

The signature process is more complex than one would think. You have to meet the number of required signatures, and these signatures must be valid. To be valid, in most states, this means that the person signing has an address in the district you are running in, that they are a registered voter for the party you are running in, and that they actually signed the form. In addition, you, the candidate, will need certain information on these forms that must be correct. If any of this information is wrong, either from you or the signee, then it is very likely that your forms will be challenged through the state’s designated process, and those signatures could be held invalid. If enough signatures are held invalid, you may be kept off the ballot despite seemingly having the requisite number of people on your forms.

This is why it is crucial to have a lawyer early in this process. A lawyer will be able to help oversee this process to ensure your compliance and ensure that your name appears on the primary ballot. A lawyer will also then be able to easily help you with any challenges to your signatures.

Once you are on the ballot, the complicated process does not end there. From there, there are other hoops that you will have to jump through in your quest to Congress. Namely, federal campaign laws. In order to have a successful campaign, fundraising will be key. There are, however, complex federal laws that govern the process for this fundraising. This includes how much money someone can donate to you, contributions to your campaign, reporting requirements, and more. An experienced election law lawyer will be able to walk you through this process to ensure your campaign remains in compliance with federal law. If not, there could be civil and even criminal penalties.

In conclusion, if you want to run for Congress, or any office, talk to an election law lawyer early. This will ensure that you have access to the ballot, and once on the ballot, will help you successfully achieve your position without risk of penalty from complex campaign laws.