Filing for a place on the 2018 ballot begins on Saturday and continues until 6 p.m. local time on December 11. Texas has the second earliest filing period of any state.
How We Cover the Filing Period
We will do our best to update our Crib Sheets as we become aware that candidates have filed. We rely on several dozen county party offices, the state parties, the Secretary of State, other election officials and candidate announcements for our information. These vary in accuracy, completeness, timeliness and accessibility. We will not mark someone as having filed without some verifiable source, but some filings escape our view, leading us falsely to believe that some candidates have not filed when in fact they have. Those cases eventually get resolved, but we usually do not have a final picture of who’s running until several days after the filing period ends.
We do not plan to post daily lists of who has filed. Our Crib Sheets will reflect our most current information. We will report on candidates who have not previously indicated they were going to run for an office we cover. Even though filing begins on Saturday, our first report on these activities probably won’t be published until Sunday and sent via email until Monday morning.
How Filing Works
In general, candidates file at either the state or county level. If the candidate wishes to run for a district entirely located within one county, or for a county or precinct office, then the candidate files with either the county party or county judge. If the candidate wishes to run for a district with territory in more than one county, then the candidate must file with the state party or Secretary of State. Filing may be done in person or by mail. A mailed application must be received (not postmarked) by the deadline.
Republicans and Democrats: Candidates must file an application and either pay a filing fee or submit a petition signed by the required number of qualified voters. The amount of the fee and the number of signatures is provided by statute and summarized in this chart on the Secretary of State’s web site. Statewide judicial candidates paying a filing fee also must file a petition comprised of at least 50 signatures of registered voters from each of the Court of Appeals districts.
Libertarians: Candidates for federal, statewide, legislative and most judicial offices must file an application for nomination with the state Libertarian Party. Candidates for county offices other than district attorney must file with the county Libertarian Party. Nominees are selected at the party’s precinct, county, district and state conventions.
Greens: Candidates face a difficult decision. The party failed to qualify for automatic ballot access when none of its 2016 candidates received at least 5% of the vote statewide. To regain ballot access, the Green Party must apply by January 2 and obtain at least 47,183 valid signatures on its petition. That deadline occurs after the filing deadline, which means that any prospective candidates must file with the state or local party (same distinction as the Libertarians) before the party applies for ballot access. Nominees are chosen in the party’s conventions. If they do not wish to place their spot on the ballot in the hands of the party’s signature gatherers, candidates may instead apply as an independent candidate and obtain their own signatures.
Independents: Candidates wishing to run for federal, statewide, legislative and state judicial office without a partisan affiliation must file a declaration of intent with the Secretary of State or county judge by December 11. After the March primary (or after the primary runoff, if applicable), the candidate must gather the required number of signatures from qualified voters who did not participate in any party’s nominating process and submit those, along with an application, by June 21.
Write-ins: The current filing period does not apply to write-in candidates. Instead, candidates wishing to be a certified write-in candidate must file a declaration of candidacy with the Secretary of State or county judge between July 21 and August 20. The declaration must be accompanied by a filing fee and a certain number of signatures. No losing primary candidate can appear as a write-in candidate. Voters may cast a write-in vote for any individual, real or fictional, they choose but only votes for certified write-in candidates are counted.
These filing deadlines do not apply to special elections, even if they are concurrent with the primary or general election.
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