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Ohio State & Local Election Law: Running for State Office

Before the Election

Getting on the Ballot

  • Declaring Candidacy
    • Potential candidadtes must first declare their candidacy through the proper filing with either state or county election commissions. The forms for declaring candidacy can be found on the Secretary of State's website here.
      • Note that there are different forms for delcaring candidacy for major party, minor party, and independent candidates.
  • Requirements for Candidacy
    • Residency 
      • The candidate must be a resident of the state (for Governor) or district (State Senator or Representative) for at least one year immediately prior to the election (OH Const. Art. II, §. 3) and must be a qualified elector of that same district (OH Const. Art. XV, § 4)
    • Signatures
      • The required number of signatures for state offices can be found in the Ohio Revised Code at:
        • R.C. 3513.05 - Filing for candidacy through a political party holding a primary election
        • R.C. 3513.257 - Filing for candidacy as an independent candidate


During the Campaign

Campaign Finances

  • Laws regarding campaign finances may be found in R.C. 3517.10 et seq. 
  • More specific guidance from the Secretary of State's Office is published in the Campaign Finance Handbook available through the S.o.S. website.


  • Campaigns are subject to laws requiring transparency in political communication, which are located in R.C. 3517. For example:
    • R.C. 3517.20 Political communications; identification of source
    • R.C. 3517.21, .22 these are laws regarding infiltration of other campaigns
  • Failure to comply with campaign laws set out in R.C. 3517 will result in the punishments found in R.C. 3517.99.

After the Campaign

Closing the Campaign

  • Transition Funds
    • Elected officeholders may establish a transition fund to pay for their inaguration and other related activities. Rules governing transition funds are located in R.C. 3517.1014.
  • Closing the Committee

Challenging Election Results

  • Complaints against campaigns must be filed through the Ohio Election Commission as required by R.C. 3517.153. The subsequent sections describe the process for review and hearing of the complaint.
    • Complaints against campaigns must be made within two years after the occurrence of the act or failure to act that is the subject of the complaint. R.C. 3517.157
  • Contests of election results and recounts are governed by R.C. 3515.01 et seq.
  • The Ohio Revised Code also details several offenses that may be perpetrated by voters, candidates, or election officials. The description and penalties for these offenses can be found at R.C. 3599.01 et seq.

Campaign Ethics

Financial Disclosure

  • Candidates fall under the definition of "public officers" covered by R.C. 102.02, and are thus subject to its requirements of financial disclosure.

Additional ethical guidance and laws pertaining to public officials may be found through the Ohio Ethics Commission website.

Ohio Election Statutes

Ohio election laws are contained in Title 35 of the Ohio Revised Code

Reference Appointments

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