Know the filing deadlines if you are planning to run for elected office

Filing deadlines for 2016 elections range from April 19 through October 28.

There are many decisions to be made, facts to learn, and plans to be created when considering a run for elected public office. The preparation for such a position may take months or years. One critical detail is time sensitive however, and that is the deadline to file nominating petitions to get on the ballot. The Michigan Secretary of State, Ruth Johnson, has information on filing, campaign finance, and other topics for candidates at the “Information for Candidates” website. 

Michigan State University Extension is non-partisan, and has no role in the election process. We do provide information and educational opportunities for elected officials in Michigan. All of the filing deadline details can be found in the “Summary Calendar for Candidate and Proposal Deadlines” document on the Michigan Secretary of State (SOS) website. 

The first important filing deadline is April 19, 4 p.m. This is the filing deadline for most partisan and non-partisan offices for the August primary, except judicial, county convention delegates, and district library boards. Candidates who meet the deadline, then change their minds about running, have until 4 p.m. on April 22 to withdraw. County convention delegates, also known as precinct delegates, are elected for the Republican and Democrat parties, and have a deadline of May 3 at 4 p.m. 

Local school board members, community college trustees (except Wayne County), and village positions have a filing deadline of July 26 at 4 p.m. for the November general election. 

Write-in candidates must file by July 22 at 4 p.m. for the primary vote in August, except for precinct delegates. Precinct delegate write-ins need to file by 4 p.m. on July 29. 

Candidates for judicial positions, district library boards, and those with no party affiliation have other specific dates and should refer to the Michigan SOS “Summary Calendar for Candidate and Proposal Deadlines” document on the SOS website for details. 

Petition drives to put initiatives on the ballot also have due dates for the November election. If the petition is for a legislative initiative, the deadline is 5 p.m. on June 1, and 252,523 valid signatures are required. For constitutional amendments, petition signatures must be filed by July 11, also by 5 p.m., and 315,654 valid signatures are required. 

And for those of you wondering about the Oct. 28 deadline in the secondary headline above, that’s for write-in candidates for the November general election. 

For citizens who have no plans to run for office in 2016, there are four very important dates. The primary election will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016, and the last day to register to vote in the primary is July 5. The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, and the last day to register to vote is Oct. 11. 

Being an informed voter is critically important even if it’s unlikely that you will ever run for public office. Follow local news outlets and web sites to learn more about the issues affecting your state and local units of government. Take time to attend a few meetings. Meeting locations and times must be posted at the local government offices, and most are on the web. You may be one of only a few people in attendance at a given meeting, but it will be a great opportunity to learn about the issues your elected government leaders are addressing.

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