Running For Office
Last Day for Withdrawal by candidates nominated at the Primary is August 9, 2021.
General Information for Running for Office in a Municipal Primary (Dates TBA for future Municipal Primaries)
First day to circulate and file nomination petitions – February 16, 2021
Last day to circulate and file nomination petitions – March 9, 2021
PETITIONS MUST BE FILED IN THE DOYLESTOWN OFFICE OF THE BUCKS COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS BY 5:00 PM ON MARCH 9, 2021.
Casting of Lots for the position of names on ballots and ballot labels for the Municipal Primary to be held on Tuesday, May 18, 2021, was at the Office of the Board of Elections, Doylestown, PA on Wednesday, March 17, 2021, at 9:00 a.m.
Becoming a Candidate
The Bucks County Board of Elections supplies nomination petitions, nomination papers, and campaign expense reporting documents for candidates seeking election offices, county offices, magisterial district judges, school board positions, municipal offices, election officials and local party committee.
Individuals interested in running for office must be informed of various legal aspects of the electoral process before organizing their respective campaigns. Candidates are expected to understand the required duties of the office they wish to seek, if they qualify to hold said office, and the legal obligation they hold in reporting campaign finance expenditures during an electoral cycle. Prior to entering any public race, it is recommended individuals contact the office of interest to better understand the responsibilities of an elected government official.
Three main methods exist by which a candidate can gain access to the November ballot:
- Individuals seeking to run as a major political party’s candidate (Democrat or Republican) for public office can receive a place on the primary ballot through nomination petitions.
- Individuals seeking to run as an independent or minor political party’s candidate for public office can only be listed on the November Election’s ballot through the use of nomination papers.
- Individuals can pursue a “write-in” campaign on either the primary or November Election ballot and can win the nomination.
For information on filling of certain vacancies via nomination certificates (25 P.S. § 2953) or substitute nominations (25 P.S. § 2939, 25 P.S. § 2940) contact the Bucks County Board of Elections at 215-348-6154 or email us.
Method #1 - Nomination Petitions
Under the Pennsylvania Election Code, all candidates who wish to be listed on the Democratic or Republican ballots offered during the primary election must file nomination petitions with their county election office (25 P.S. § 2867-8). Nomination petitions allow candidates to collect signatures from residents of their election district (number of signatures dependent on office). Once turned in, these documents actively petition the county election office to print the candidate’s name on the primary ballot under the office in which they seek.
The number of signatures needed for a nomination petition depends upon the public office being sought by a candidate (25 P.S. § 2872.1). To view the signature requirements for Bucks County Elected Officials for the 2021 primary and any related filing fees, see the listing of Offices for Nomination.
Candidates are also required to file a photocopy of the Statement of Financial Interest along with their petition. The original copy of the Statement of Financial Interest must be filed with the governing authority of the office being sought by the filing deadline for nomination petitions.
Candidates who file nomination petitions and win their party’s nomination during the Primary Election will automatically have their name listed on the November Election ballot for the office being sought.
Nomination Petitions will be available in the Bucks County Board of Elections Office in early February. Circulation/filing of nomination petitions can begin on February 16, 2021. The filing deadline for nomination petitions is March 9, 2021.
Method #2 - Nomination Papers
Candidates running as a minor political party or political body must file nomination papers containing qualifying elector signatures for the district in which they wish to run for office. The number of signatures collected must equal at least 2% of the largest entire vote cast for an elected candidate from the last election within said district. The number of signatures must also be no less than the number of signatures required for party candidates to collect for the public office being sought (25 P.S. § 2911(b)).
Any individual interested in running as a political body must withdraw their membership from said political party no less than thirty days prior to the Primary Election. In filing as a minor political party or political body, the candidate may not participate in any way in the Primary Election (except in cases of cross-filing). Political Body candidates must remain unaffiliated through the November Election (25 P.S. § 2911.1).
Candidate inquiries regarding the number of signatures needed for a public office being sought can be directed to the Bucks County Board of Elections.
Nomination Papers will be available from the Bucks County Board of Elections Office upon request. Circulation/filing of nomination papers can begin on March 10, 2021. The filing deadline for nomination papers is August 2, 2021.
Method #3: Write-In Electoral Campaigns
Candidates have the option of running a “write-in” campaign in both the primary and general election. While the candidate’s formal name will not appear on the printed ballot for either election, voters have the opportunity to physically write in the name of their preferred candidate for the specified office on the ballot.
A series of canvass procedures takes place 1-2 weeks following an election. Write-In variations are canvassed separately (i.e. John Smith vs Jon Smith) unless a candidate submits something in writing to consolidate these variations. It is in the candidate’s best interest to file this paperwork with our office; however, it is not required.
There are two methods in which a candidate can consolidate their write-in votes:
- Candidates can submit a signed Letter of Accumulation, detailing the different variations of the names that were written in the electoral ballots as well as others that could be construed as their own.
- Candidates can complete a Variation of Name Acceptance form provided by our office, which allows a candidate to detail the different variations of the names that could be written on the electoral ballot, as well as others that could be construed as their own.
We ask that these be submitted to our office by the Friday following a primary/election. The Bucks County Board of Elections requires all claims to have original documentation and signatures. Photocopies and scanned documentation cannot be as original forms.
In the event a write-in candidate manages to win their sought office during the Primary Election, they must complete a number of acceptance forms before the specified deadline in order to appear on the November Election ballot. If the paperwork is not completed, the candidate’s name will not appear on the ballot.
If an incumbent candidate is running for the office of Magisterial District Judge, recent legislative changes have opened a new path to access the primary ballot. Incumbent candidates, under Section 912.1(32) of the Pennsylvania Election Code (25 P.S. § 2872.1 (32)), may receive access to the primary ballot by completing a nomination certificate. Incumbent candidates will not have to collect voter signatures if they choose to use the nomination certificate. However, in choosing to use the nomination certificate, incumbent candidates forgo their right to challenge the nomination petitions of their opposing competitors. Magisterial district judges who were appointed by the Governor cannot file for a nomination certificate; they must circulate a nomination petition like non-incumbent candidates.
Even though incumbent candidates are not required to collect voter signatures under the nomination certificate, all other candidate filing requirements remain in effect. The filing deadlines for nomination certificates remains the same for those filing nomination petitions. Incumbent magisterial district judges who wish to run as a minor party candidate must gather signatures through nomination papers as previously described in the Pennsylvania Election Code (25 P.S. §§ 2872.2).
These are not to be confused with nomination certificates used to fill vacancies caused by death or withdrawal of a candidate that are used to submit a candidate’s name for a November election or a special election (25 P.S. § 2953, 25 P.S. § 2939, 25 P.S. § 2940). For more information on those nomination certificates, contact the Bucks County Board of Elections at 215-348-6154 or email us.