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Understanding How to Run for Office in the United States

How to Run for Office
If you feel like you want to make more of an impact in the political sphere outside of advocacy and voting, you may want to consider running for office. There are around 520,000 elective offices in the United States, meaning that more than one out of every thousand people in the U.S. are an elected official.

All citizens of the U.S. have the right to run for political office. If eligible, any average citizen can play a role in the government. However, not many Americans are taking advantage of this right. In 2012, about a third of the candidates running for a state legislative positions ran unopposed.

Many people do not run because they are not sure how to do so. To begin, you can use Run For Office’s website to search for public positions available near you. After you find the right fit, the next step is to run a campaign.

Here are some tips on how to run for office in the United States:

  1. Do plenty of research beforehand. Find out the requirements for the office such as age and residency. Understand how long the term is and what time commitment is required. Find out how much money is generally spent on successful campaigns. Once you understand the position and you feel comfortable that you can fulfill the requirements, you can begin planning your campaign.
  2. Running a campaign is a great deal of work, so you will need a good team behind you. Decide whether you want to be volunteer-based or whether you can hire professional help. Unless you plan on paying for everything, you’ll need to rely on others for fundraising as well. Start with family and friends and build a database of donors and supporters.
  3. In order to make your campaign official, you will need to file for office. You can figure out what the requirements are by filing a seat through your town clerk or Secretary of State. Make a comprehensive list of all the paperwork that needs to be completed, as well as all the deadlines so you stay on track. Look into the financing laws as well.
  4. Decide what you are running for – pick three issues your campaign is going to focus on and what you would want to work towards if you become elected. Then look at your own background and skill set and see how they will assist you in accomplishing your goals. Issue a profile for your campaign, then create an identifiable branding and message that will help people remember you and your views.
  5. Once you feel prepared, announce your intention to run. Preferably, do so with much press. Then you can begin to actively campaign. Go door to door. Print lawn signs. Keep up-to-date social media accounts. Go to events and get your name out there. Prepare a short 30-second appeal and a three-minute speech regarding your campaign and why you are running. Do what you can to publicize yourself and gain support.

Even if you have never held a political position, once you know how to run for office you have the power to do so. If you want to see changes made, if you want to do more for those who don’t have a voice, don’t stand around waiting – run for office.

Hannah Kaiser

Photo: Unsplash