League answers questions about candidacy
by RACHEL DAVIS
Jul 26, 2012 | 1495 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As candidate lists were released for municipal elections, many questions arose across the county about what made a candidate qualified to run for an elected position, as well as what duties election officials, mayors, city councils and city clerks had in the process.

According to the guidelines from the Alabama League of Municipalities, a candidate must file paperwork with the appointed election official in each city certifying that they meet the requirements of candidacy. Those requirement are:

•Each mayor, council member or officer elected by the whole electorate of the city or town must be a resident and a registered voter in that municipality at the time of qualification.

•Council members elected by wards or districts must reside within the limits of that area.

•Candidates must have been residents of the municipality for at least 90 days.

•Candidates elected by wards or districts must have been residents of that district for at least 90 days.

•Resident means a permanent physical resident. Residency in the police jurisdiction or ownership of property inside the city limits does not meet the residency requirement.

•A candidate does not establish legal residence merely by stating an intention to reside at the residence, but by also physically occupying the residence.

The elections manual also states, “The clerk and the mayor have no authority to judge the qualifications of a candidate. Their only job is to receive the statements which are properly filled out and see to it that the names of the candidate are properly placed on the ballot.”

According to Tracy Roberts, the deputy general counsel for the league, the responsibility of determining that the candidate is a resident and registered voter falls to the mayor, who is responsible for having the ballots printed, unless the mayor has some personal conflict.

In that case, the city council appoints someone to oversee the process and determine whether the candidate is eligible.

If the candidate is not a registered voter of the municipality, Roberts said the mayor or appointed official will decide to leave the name off the ballot.

If the candidate is a registered voter of the municipality, Roberts said the issue becomes more complicated. The challenge to eligibility at that point would have to be settled by a court, either prior to the election, via a challenge to the ballot, or up to five days after the winner is announced, via an election contest.