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Civic Engagement: How To Run For Office

Written By:

Mecedes Lindsay

Publishing Date:

November 14, 2022

In the United States, when someone intends to run for a public office, there are minimum requirements that they must meet.  Some examples of minimum requirements for a few positions are: 

U.S. Senator

  • 30 years old with 9 years of U.S citizenship with State residency.

U.S. Representative

  • 25 years old with 7 years of U.S. citizenship with State residency.


  • 35 years old with 14 years of U.S. citizenship and State residency.


  • 30 years old with 2 years of state residency and a U.S. citizenship.

Secretary of State

  • 25 years old with 2 years of state residency and U.S. citizenship.

Running for a public office is quite simple when put into words, however these offices can have long-lasting impacts on a given state or territory. In order to become a candidate one must announce their campaign publicly and raise or spend 5,000 dollars or more in contributions or expenditures.

Eventually, the candidate will sign a “Statement of Candidacy.” This statement collects the basic information about a candidate and will be where the candidate lists the campaign committees working for them.

Though this process looks similar across many cities, townships, and states, each state has a slightly varied process and specific requirements for candidates running at the local- or state-levels, so it is best to visit your state’s website to clarify these before running. Accessing information on running a campaign at the federal-level can be found by contacting the Federal Election Commission at 1-800-424-9530 or visiting their website (

There are different types of delegates pledged, bound delegates, unpledged delegates, or superdelegates. Bound delegates must support the candidate they were awarded in the primary or caucus process and unpledged delegates can support any presidential candidate they choose. During the first round of voting pledged delegates must vote for the candidate they were awarded while unpledged delegates can vote for any candidate. However, superdelegates cannot vote in the first round unless it is an instance where a candidate has enough delegates from the primaries and caucuses to automatically win the nomination. Now, If no nominee wins in the first round, the convention will be considered "brokered." Then pledged delegates can choose any candidate in the later rounds of voting while superdelegates can also vote in these later rounds. This continues until a candidate wins the nomination.

While local- and state-level requirements and conditions may vary from territory to territory, information for a presidential run will be the same in every state.Presidential general elections occur every four years on the first Tuesday in November. Candidates participate in several state primaries and caucuses before they reach the general election. The primaries and caucuses allow the states to choose the major political parties’ nominees for the general election but they are each run differently. The state primary voting happens through a secret ballot and is run by state and local governments. Caucuses, however, are run by political parties in private meetings. Each is held at the county-, district-, or precinct-level. Participants will divide themselves into groups based on the candidate they support while undecided voters will be grouped. Each group will give a speech in support of their candidate and try to persuade the other groups to join them. In the end, the number of delegates a candidate receives is determined by the number of voters in their group.

After the primaries and caucuses, the political parties hold a national convention where the winning candidates receive their nominations. The delegates will attend the national convention to vote to confirm their choice of candidates. The convention is also where the presidential nominee will officially announce their running mate who would serve as their Vice President.


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