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When Should I File for Office?

New Legislation May Trigger Resign-to-Run Provision

By Nanette Forbes
TAC Legislative Staff

Recent changes to the state election laws and a proposed amendment to the state constitution will affect the time for filing for office in the March primary election.

A county official who intends to run for a different office in the March primary election should not file as a candidate before Dec. 2, 2011 and until the state canvass of the constitutional amendment election has occurred.

As currently written, Article XVI, section 65 of the state constitution (known as the resign-to-run provision) forces a vacancy in office of a county officer who becomes a candidate for an office other than the one he or she currently holds when more than one year remains on the officer’s current term of office. In the past, county officials have been able to avoid being forced to resign by delaying filing for office until Jan. 2 preceding the primary.

A recent change in the election code removes this option, however. Senate Bill 100, adopted during the last regular legislative session to accommodate federal laws related to overseas military voters, moved the filing deadline from Jan. 2 to the second Monday in December. This year, the deadline is Dec. 12. This earlier deadline would cause an officer seeking a different office to run afoul of the resign-to-run provision.

In an effort to overcome this problem, the Legislature has proposed an amendment to Article XVI, § 65. If adopted by the voters at the Nov. 8, 2011 constitutional amendment election, Proposition 10 (SJR 37) will extend the one-year “safe” period by an additional 30 days, enabling an officer to comply with the new December filing deadline without automatically resigning from office.

However, even if the voters approve this change to the constitution, the amendment will not become law until the returns of the election are canvassed by the governor. This year, the state canvass will occur between Nov. 23 and Dec. 8.

If Proposition 10 is approved and the governor canvasses the returns on or before Dec. 2, a county official may file for another office on Dec. 2 without triggering the resign-to-run provision. However, if the canvass occurs after Dec. 2, the officer should wait until the canvass to file for a place on the ballot.

Constitutional Amendment Election: Nov. 8, 2011
State canvassing period: Nov. 23, 2011 – Dec. 8, 2011
If canvass occurs on or before Dec. 2: Filing on or after Dec. 2, 2011
If canvass occurs after Dec. 2
Filing on or after canvass Last date for filing: Dec. 12, 2011