How to Run for County Office
Step 1: File Campaign Finance Registration Statement (CF-1)
Candidates are prohibited from campaign fundraising or incurring campaign expenses until this form has been approved by the Election Commission. This form requires you to:
- Identify the political office for which you are running.
- List the bank information for your campaign finance account. You must open and maintain a separate campaign finance account. You cannot co-mingle personal funds and campaign funds unless you have selected a filing exemption (see instructions for declaring exemption on the CF-1 form).
- Provide the name and contact information for your campaign treasurer. You may act as your own campaign treasurer; however, due to the complexity of completing the forms correctly, the Election Commission encourages you to select someone for this position that has a good familiarity with tracking expenses and revenue.
Step 2: Collect Nomination Signatures
Completed nomination papers must be submitted to the Milwaukee County Election Commission. You are encouraged to turn in your nomination papers before the deadline so that you may remedy problems, like a shortage of valid signatures, prior to the filing deadline.
Read all instructions related to the distribution of nomination papers to ensure that each page of your signatures meets circulating requirements. All nomination signatures are reviewed by the Milwaukee County Election Commission and may be challenged by other candidates running for office.
If a signer’s address is not legible or valid, or the person resides outside of the area represented by the officeholder, the signature will be disqualified. While it is not required, you are encouraged to collect at least 100 signatures more than the minimum requirement. You are also encouraged to verify the addresses included on your nomination papers on the statewide website, MyVote.wi.gov, before submitting them to the Milwaukee County Election Commission.
Step 3: Complete the Milwaukee Ethics Board Statement of Economic Interests Filing Requirement
You are required to file a Statement of Economic Interests form and accompanying Affidavit with the Milwaukee County Election Commission no later than the Friday after your nominations signatures are due. The Election Commission is required to provide copies of these forms to the Milwaukee County Ethics Board.
Step 4: Complete All Other Election Commission Filing Requirements
You are required to complete and submit the Declaration of Candidacy form (EL-162) and Nomination Papers (EL-168 or EL-169) with sufficient signatures.
These forms are available on the Milwaukee County Election Commission’s website (see below), online at the Wisconsin Election Commission's website, elections.wi.gov, or you may obtain a full packet of forms by visiting the Milwaukee County Election Commission, 901 N. 9th Street, Room G10, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53233.
Step 5: Certification by the Milwaukee County Election Commission
All nomination paper signatures will be reviewed as soon as they are received, on a first-come, first-served basis. In some instances, the Milwaukee County Election Commission may ask you to provide a corrective affidavit if certain errors have been made on a nomination page. If your nomination papers are complete (there is a sufficient number of valid signatures) and all other filing requirements have been met, your nomination papers will be certified as sufficient by the Milwaukee County Election Commission and your name will appear on the ballot. If there are not enough valid signatures on your nomination papers or you did not complete all filing requirements, your name will not appear on the ballot.
If more than two candidates are certified for one office, there will be a primary election for that office. The order of candidate names on the ballot is determined through a random drawing selection process. Notice of the drawing is provided to all candidates and the public is invited to witness this process.
Step 6: Submit Regular Campaign Finance Reports
You must account for all deposits and withdrawals from your campaign finance bank account. Unless you have declared exemption (in general, you do not expect to raise or spend over $2,000 on your campaign in a calendar year), you are required to file Campaign Finance Reports. You will receive an email reminder prior to each filing due date, provided you have made your email address available to the Milwaukee County Election Commission. Campaign finance schedules and reporting requirements can be complex and require significant attention to detail and an ability to learn and understand reporting instructions. You are encouraged to select a treasurer that is reliable and organized. All reports must be complete, accurate, and meet full public disclosure requirements. The timeliness of reports is also imperative. Late reports may be subject to civil and/or criminal penalties, including financial penalties.