It is election time in the United States! Maybe you are reading this after you have gone to your local polls, or maybe you are on your way. Even though it is a “mid-term” election and the race to find The President of the United States for the next four years is not up for grabs, a lot of positions are with Senators, Representatives, Governors, and a whole host of other things are. And even if the highest office in the land is not up for grabs this year, it still has its effect and looms over who you may mark down on the ballot during this election.
But what does it take to run in THAT election? The one to become President of the United States.
Not as much as you probably think.
If you ever thought about throwing you hate in the ring, before you do anything look to see if you qualify. The U.S. Constitution spells it out:
“No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”
In more modern speak the requirements are that you are a natural born citizen of this country, you have lived in the country for the last 14 years, and you are 35 years old. If you meet those requirements than it is time to actually register with the Federal Election Commission. This isn’t some long and laborious task as you may think. It’s actually easier than applying for a driver’s license. It can be done online through the Federal Election Commission’s website.
Depending on the office you are running for, there is going to be a filing deadline to put your name in. For the Presidential election, it is usually a year or more before the election itself. So the earlier the better.
They require the usual stuff, legal name, address, Date of Birth, what political party you are in (if any), and then where are you getting any money for this election. A lot of that is more legal stuff than anything. The government would want someone to be President if they are getting their money from the mob or anything like that. Gotta make sure everything is legal.
Once that is done, your information is put on a public file that anyone can see if they want. Not all the names on the list are legal (or actual people) but as long as you meet those requirements, you are a candidate for President of the United States! After that, you may have to register from the state you are running from to actually appear on the ballot and in newspapers and stuff. And if you are really going for it, you may have to register with other states if you want to appear on those ballots too. But registering with the government itself is the easy part, campaigning and actually trying to win is the hard part.
It may be the one point in the process you don’t need a whole lot of money. The FEC mandates that it costs no money to register as a candidate in an effort to keep things on the even ground for everyone. And it may not turn out that way as things go on, but at least in that part of the process, it is a level playing field.
So for all of you going to the polls today, great! If you are reading this after the fact, I hope you did vote. And for those who meet the requirements but are under the age of 35. Give it some time and give yourself a present when you reach that age.