Qualifying Procedures for President of the United States

How to Qualify as a Candidate for the Presidential Preference Primary

The 2020 Presidential Preference Primary (PPP) will be held on March 3, 2020. T.C.A. § 2-13-205. There are two ways to qualify to appear on the PPP ballot in Tennessee as a candidate for nomination to the Presidency in either the Republican or Democratic Party primary.

Nationally Recognized Candidates

The Secretary of State is required to submit a list of names to appear on each party’s primary ballot to the State Election Commission no later than December 3, 2019. The Secretary of State has sole discretion to include only those candidates that he has determined are generally advocated or recognized as candidates in national news media throughout the United States. T.C.A. § 2-5-205.

If you would like the Secretary of State to consider your campaign for the list of nationally recognized candidates, please send a formal request to The Honorable Tre Hargett, Tennessee Secretary of State, State Capitol, First Floor, Nashville, TN 37243.

Petition Process

The other method for a party candidate to gain access to the primary ballot is to submit a petition signed by at least twenty-five hundred (2,500) registered voters by 12:00 noon Central time on December 3, 2019. T.C.A. § 2-5-205.

The first date to pick up a petition from the Division of Elections is September 4, 2019. Petitions can be picked up in person or mailed to the candidate.

The original petition and two certified duplicates must be filed by the deadline. A certified duplicate is a photocopy of the original petition with the words “This is a true copy of the original” signed by the person making the copy along with the copier’s name, title and date. There are no filing fees.

The original petition must be filed with the State Election Commission, and the first certified duplicate must be filed with the Coordinator of Elections. Both of these must be submitted to 312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, 7th Floor, William Snodgrass Tower, Nashville, TN 37243.

The second certified duplicate must be filed with the chairperson of the state executive committee of the candidate's party at the appropriate address below.

Tennessee Republican Party
95 White Bridge Rd, Suite 414
Nashville, TN 37205
(615) 269-4260

Tennessee Democratic Party
319 Plus Park Boulevard
Nashville, TN 37217
(615) 327-9779

Withdrawal Deadline

The deadline for primary candidates for president to withdraw is 12:00 noon Central time on December 10, 2019. Candidates wishing to withdraw should file an affidavit stating without qualification that the candidate is not and does not intend to become a candidate for president in the forthcoming presidential election with the State Election Commission. T.C.A. § 2-5-205.

If no candidate will appear on the March 3, 2020 primary ballot of a political party, then no PPP shall be held for that political party. T.C.A. § 2-13-205.

 

How to Qualify as an Independent Candidate for President

Filing a Petition

A candidate must obtain the signatures and addresses of at least two hundred seventy-five (275) voters registered anywhere within the State of Tennessee.

The first date to pick up a petition from the Division of Elections is May 22, 2020. Petitions can be picked up in person or mailed to the candidate. The qualifying deadline to file the petition is 12:00 noon Central time on August 20, 2020.

The original petition and one certified duplicate must be filed by the deadline. A postmark will not suffice. A certified duplicate is a photocopy of the original petition with the words “This is a true copy of the original” signed by the person making the copy along with the copier’s name, title and date. There are no filing fees.

The original petition must be filed with the State Election Commission, and the certified duplicate must be filed with with the Coordinator of Elections. Both of these must be submitted to the Division of Elections at 312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, 7th Floor, William Snodgrass Tower, Nashville, TN 37243.

Choosing a Vice President and Electors

At the time of filing the nominating petition, the candidate must also file the names, addresses, and signatures of the vice-presidential candidate and the 11 electors who have agreed to represent the presidential candidate. A candidate must select 1 elector from each of Tennessee’s 9 congressional districts, and 2 additional electors who may be residents of any part of the state. The names of the vice-presidential candidate and electors must be filed by the qualifying deadline.

Election Procedures

Voters will vote for the presidential candidate of the voter’s choice, and the electors pledged to the presidential candidate receiving the highest number of votes are elected to represent Tennessee in the Electoral College.

For additional information about Tennessee election law, copies of the Tennessee Election Code may be obtained by sending a check for $40.96 payable to the Secretary of State to the Division of Elections. A returned check/collection agency fee of $25.00 will be assessed for every check not honored by the bank.

Campaign Contribution and Disclosure Reports

All presidential candidates should contact the Federal Election Commission (FEC) at fec.gov or 800-424-9530 for information regarding campaign contribution and disclosure reports and filing requirements. 
If campaign expenditures are made in Tennessee, the FEC requires presidential candidates to make certain filings in Tennessee with the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance. The can be reached at 404 James Robertson Parkway, Suite 104, Nashville, TN 37243 or 615-741-7959.

 

Write-In Candidates

Presidential Preference Primary

For the March 3, 2020 Presidential Preference Primary (PPP), to have write-in ballots counted for the office of U.S. President, a potential write-in candidate must file a completed Certification of Write-In Candidacy (Certificate) in each county where the candidate wants his or her name counted and indicate in which primary the write-in candidate wants his or her name counted. An original Certificate must be filed no later than twelve o’clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, on the 50th day before the election.

If the write-in candidate wants his or her name counted in all 95 Tennessee counties, then an original Certificate must be filed in all 95 counties by the filing deadline.

For the 2020 PPP, the filing deadline is no later than 12:00 noon, prevailing time, on Monday, January 13, 2020. A Certificate may not be filed prior to December 3, 2019, the applicable qualifying deadline for candidates to have their names placed on the PPP ballot.

No faxed or emailed documents will be accepted.

The addresses and contact information for the 95 Tennessee counties can be found at: https://tnsos.org/elections/election_commissions.php.
 

General Election

For the November 3, 2020 general election, in order for write-in ballots to be counted for the office of U.S. President, a potential write-in candidate must file a completed Certification of Write-In Candidacy (Certificate) in each county where the candidate wants his or her name counted and file a list of 11 electors pledged to that candidate. The list of electors must include a resident from each of the nine congressional districts in Tennessee and two electors who may be residents of any part of the state.

Filing the Certification of Write-In Candidacy – An original Certificate must be filed no later than twelve o’clock (12:00) noon, prevailing time, on the 50th day before the election.

If the write-in candidate wants his or her name counted in all 95 Tennessee counties, then an original Certificate must be filed in all 95 counties by the filing deadline.

For the November 3, 2020 election, the filing deadline is no later than 12:00 noon, prevailing time, on Monday, September 14, 2020. A Certificate may not be filed prior to August 20, 2020, the applicable qualifying deadline for candidates to have their names placed on the November ballot.

No faxed or emailed documents will be accepted.

The addresses and contact information for the 95 Tennessee counties can be found at: https://tnsos.org/elections/election_commissions.php.
 

Filing the List of 11 Electors

The original list of the 11 electors must include the name and address of each elector. The list must be received by the Coordinator of Elections at the address below no later than the applicable deadline for the November 3, 2020 election. No faxed or emailed documents will be accepted.

Division of Elections
312 Rosa L. Parks Ave.
7th Floor, William R. Snodgrass Tower
Nashville, Tennessee 37243