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Arkansas' 2022 filing period: What offices are up for election, who's eligible to run

by Rachel Herzog | February 22, 2022 at 10:30 a.m.
Candidates line up to file to run for political office at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012, the first day of the seven-day filing period. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

Political campaigns for the 2022 elections may have been underway in Arkansas for months, but candidates don't make things official until the filing period, which begins Feb. 22 and lasts through March 1. 

Here are the basics on how it works. 

What does it mean to file for office?

In Arkansas and other states, filing for office describes the process prospective candidates must go through to appear on the ballot. 

How do candidates file in Arkansas?

For most federal and state offices, candidates must file paperwork with their respective political party and the state, said Kevin Niehaus, spokesman for the Arkansas secretary of state's office.

The secretary of state's office requires candidates to submit candidate information forms that ask for address, phone number, office sought and other basic information as well as a political practices pledge, which they sign to certify that they are eligible to run for office in the state.

[LIST: Who’s filed to run for Arkansas governor, General Assembly and other offices in 2022 » arkansasonline.com/222filinglist/ ]

Candidates have to turn in receipts of filing after they pay party filing fees. 

Independent candidates must file a notice of candidacy and an affidavit of eligibility with the secretary of state's office, Niehaus said.

Who's eligible?

Political officeholders in Arkansas must reside in the state, but other qualifications vary by office. 

U.S. senators must have been U.S. citizens for at least nine years and be at least 30 years old, while U.S. representatives must have at least seven years of U.S. citizenship and can be 25 or older.

Candidates for state office must be qualified electors in Arkansas, meaning they are U.S. citizens and Arkansas residents who are at least 18 years old, lawfully registered to vote and not presently judged mentally incompetent. Individuals with felony convictions aren't eligible to run for state office. Officeholders must have never been convicted of fraud, embezzlement of public money, bribery, forgery or other "infamous" crimes, which according to the state Constitution includes any felonies, abuses of office or crimes involving tampering or dishonesty.

[RELATED: Filing for state, federal offices in Arkansas to begin Tuesday » arkansasonline.com/222filingday/ ] 

To be governor or lieutenant governor, the candidate must have been an Arkansas resident for seven years and at least 30 years old. The other constitutional offices require officeholders to be at least 18.

Members of the Arkansas General Assembly must have been Arkansas residents for at least two years and lived in the district they represent for at least one year preceding the general election. Members of the state Senate must be at least 25, while members of the state House must be at least 21.

Judicial candidates must be residents of their chosen district and licensed attorneys in Arkansas for at least eight years immediately preceding the date of assuming office. They must be at least 18.

How much does it cost to file for office?

Filing fees vary by political party and are set by their respective executive committees. 

For Republicans, it costs $20,000 to run for U.S. Senate and $15,000 to run for the U.S. House of Representatives or governor, party communications director Julie Williams said. The fee for lieutenant governor or attorney general is $12,500, secretary of state is $10,000 and the remaining constitutional office candidates must pay $7,500. The filing fee for state Senate is $7,500, and the fee for state House is $3,000.

For Democrats, the fees are as follows: $5,000 to run for U.S. Senate, governor or attorney general; $3,000 to run for state Senate; $2,500 to run for U.S. House; and $1,500 to run for lieutenant governor, secretary of state, land commissioner, treasurer, auditor or state House. However, if a candidate is running in a district where there isn't a sitting Democratic legislator and the candidate can get the signature of a county chair or executive committee member in the congressional district, they may be able to file for free, according to Democratic Party of Arkansas political director Jacob Kauffman.

The Libertarian Party of Arkansas, as a "new political party" that gained ballot access by petition, selects nominees at a convention that precedes the party filing process. 

The Libertarian Party charges $250 to file for federal office or governor and $100 for any constitutional office or seat in the state Legislature.

For judicial offices, which are nonpartisan, the filing fees are as follows: $11,970 for chief justice of the Supreme Court; $11,080 for associate justice of the Supreme Court; $8,960 for judge of the Court of Appeals; $7,000 for circuit judge; $4,600 for state district judge; $4,990 for prosecuting attorney in Division A; and $4,240 for prosecuting attorney in Division B.

Judicial candidates can also file for free by circulating a petition.

What offices are up for election this year?

Because of redistricting, all 135 seats in the Arkansas Legislature are up for reelection this year. So are all seven constitutional offices: governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general, auditor, treasurer and land commissioner.

Arkansas' four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives will also be on the ballot, as will one of the state's U.S. Senate seats.

Additionally, there are 52 judicial positions up for election. Those include three Supreme Court associate justices, four court of appeals associate judges, 16 circuit judges, 28 prosecuting attorneys and one district court judge.

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