General Question

CyanoticWasp's avatar

How are US candidates for political office qualifications vetted?

Asked by CyanoticWasp (20043points) October 23rd, 2010

Putting aside the specific question/s about the current President’s citizenship status and qualifications for the office he holds, how are candidates for all federal electoral positions vetted? How do we know that we are nominating / contributing to / campaigning for / voting for / installing into office candidates who meet the minimum Constitutional and statutory qualifications for the office? Who checks this stuff?

Aside from the fact that “voters” as a class aren’t qualified to do this type of checking (if the President himself hand-delivered his birth certificate to me I am unqualified to verify whether it’s real, unaltered and actually his own, for example, or even to investigate further), “media outlets” aren’t part of the government and could have their own biases, just like party leaders, and it doesn’t make sense to have 50 state electoral boards come up with 50 different ways to check federal candidates. (And how do they check / certify candidates for State offices?)

And just to repeat what I’ve said on the topic in other threads: though I don’t support many of this President’s policies, I fully agree with his attitude that “I have nothing to prove” in this regard. Without a Constitutional requirement that his qualifications be checked, we pretty much have to take him at his word. Same as with every other office holder.

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24 Answers

marinelife's avatar

First of all, there is no question about the President’s birth. This has been attested to by every single official body. He is a US citizen born in Hawaii. Are you just trotting out this question to gnaw on this dead issue again?

Candidate credentials are checked by the Election Commissions in the jurisdiction in which the person is running, which may be the Federal Election Commission, the state or county or city.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Up until recently, the public has been the primary vetting body. Now… damned if I know!

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@marinelife if you could point to “where” that occurs on the FEC website (or anywhere else) then I could perhaps consider the question answered. But it’s not. Even the FEC’s own “Statement of Candidacy” form only deals with funding, campaign management, etc. There isn’t even a box to check “Are you a citizen?” or “Do you meet the Constitutional requirements to hold your intended office?”

So I repeat the question: What is the “official body” to tell campaign workers and donors, for example, that their candidate is valid prior to their contribution, or prior to the election, for that matter? As late as January 2008, this had not been settled in then-Senator Obama’s own candidacy.

If such a (recognized) “official body” existed, there never would have been the issue that there has been.

marinelife's avatar

@CyanoticWasp You cannot get on the ballot in a state without presenting papers that show that you meet the requirements for office. In most states, it is the Secretary of State’s job to manage the election process and oversee the validity of the ballot.

I think that you are being disingenuous.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Well, you may think so, @marinelife, but I’m not. I’m surprised that the vetting process takes place that late in the game, after a lot of time and money could have been spent on a campaign. And if the process is so cut-and-dried, then I don’t see how the birth certificate issue got any traction at all. But it did get traction, so the process apparently doesn’t work as transparently or as well as you seem to think.

marinelife's avatar

@CyanoticWasp The birth certificate issue got traction not because of the process being flawed, but because it was being flogged relentlessly by people who did not want Obama to win office and fueled by racism.

filmfann's avatar

If you repeat the same lie enough times, people will begin to believe it.
Fox “News” ran this story so much, their viewers (some say “Fox Zombies”) bought into it.

sigung's avatar

This would seem to be yet another attempt by the “birther movement” (I consider it a a cult) if such it can be called to resurrect this tired old lie. The President is a citizen and has a birth certificate (a certificate of live birth as it is termed) in Hawaii on file. It is the same as any other birth certificate on file in any of the 50 states in these United States. The qualifications and vetting for any office is a multi tiered process. The FEC ensures compliance with the basic qualifications for office such as age, etc. The Party vets its own candidates before they are permitted on the ballot. Then, of course, the “unofficial” vetting of the candidate by the press occurs. You are entitled to your own interpretation of the facts, you are not entitled to your own facts. It is fascinating to me that the Republican Party would seem to have elevated ignorance to a high art.

ETpro's avatar

When a major party backs a candidate, they go through a careful vetting process to ensure the person isn’t going to be an embarrassment. This year, as we have seen with Christine O’Donnell in Deleware, Pastor Stephen Broden who supports a violent overthrow of the government if he doesn’t win at the ballot box in Texas, Sharon Angle who seconds the Second Amendment remedies if she doesn’t win in Nevada, and Joe Miller who won’t speak about his past in Alaska.

It’s a brave new world in politics this year. Tea Party Madness can be yours on November 2nd.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@sigung all I’m asking is “how”. I haven’t seen any definition of a process, other than one that seems to suggest states outright that “many Secretaries of State automatically qualify candidates from the major parties and candidates who have gained ballot access in other states” for the primaries. I’ve also read that at the general election the names of the major party candidates are automatically placed on the ballot.

@ETpro This year, as we have seen… is missing a verb. If you’re going to sling shit with that sentence, you need a verb to do it. Other than the first sentence, and except to the extent that you have identified The Party with The Government, there’s no description of an unbiased process. If the Tea Party has assured itself that the candidate is viable, does that make it so? Don’t you recognize the flaw in this? If the Republican Party says that a particular candidate with ‘questionable’ heritage is qualified to take office, and there’s no Constitutional requirement to prove it openly, then how do we avoid going through this again? How do we avoid someday being completely duped?

marinelife's avatar

@CyanoticWasp Here are the steps that one state goes through.

“Political party candidates may circulate nomination petitions to have their names placed on the Primary Election ballot. The Primary Election is held prior to the General Election, and winners of the Primary will have their names placed on the General Election ballot. Political parties may also nominate candidates for the General Election (if no candidate was nominated at the Primary Election) by holding nominating conventions.

NPPO candidates or candidates with no party affiliation must file nomination papers to have their name placed on the General Election ballot.

NPPO nomination papers include an affidavit of candidacy and a set of nomination petitions. Petitions may be circulated at any time, however; nomination papers must be filed in the Secretary of State’s Office during the General Election filing period. Also, eligible electors who signed petitions must be eligible electors at the time of filing in order for their signatures to count. Nomination papers cannot be filed before or after the filing period.

A candidate must file the following to have their name placed on the General Election ballot:

1. An Affidavit of Candidacy

2. A set of Nomination Petitions

3. A “Certificate of Electors” (applies to presidential nominations only)

In addition, each potential candidate is given this Candidate’s Guide, which includes the qualifications for each office.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Oh? And what about all the dementoids who have run on the Democratic ticket? Some of those are so far out that even the people who are far out think they’re far out! Heh!

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Thanks for the response, @marinelife, but it still doesn’t address the issue, does it? Oh, sure, the candidate has to swear that he’s qualified, but so what? Who actually checks, aside from the Party, the New York Times, etc.?

Am I really the only one who thinks that if there are Constitutional / statutory qualifications that have to be met, that candidates should somehow be required to demonstrate those qualifications (early in the nominating / election process) to a non-partisan board or court that can then certify, “He may be a whacko lunatic, but he’s otherwise qualified.”

ETpro's avatar

@CyanoticWasp Drat. It’s too late to edit it now. I had meant at first tostring that last bit on to it, but as it grew while I was looking up the video links, I put a paragraph break in and didn’t go back to edit it. I do think the videos lead to their own conclusion regarding the vetting job, though.

@CaptainHarley Feel free to do as I did and post clips of those you feel are batshit crazy. I’m not just taking it on your word, though.

YARNLADY's avatar

I would be surprised if there is any such thing. There are few actual rules for candidacy. Anyone can run for any office, with some exceptions such as President.

ETpro's avatar

@YARNLADY Major parties do go through a vetting process to avoid ending up with candidates that are an embarrassment. This year’s Tea Party insurgency has upset that apple cart. Candidates like Carl Palidino in New York, Ken Buck in Colorado, Rich Iott of Ohio, etc. are true embarrassments. The backing of the National Republican Party, in many of the primaries, spelled doom for the RNC choice. The Tea Party put up people simply because they had no experience in government, and enough of them turned out at Republican Primaries to doom the RNC choice.

YARNLADY's avatar

@ETpro Oh, major parties, I thought the question was for all candidates. Here in our area, we get exotic dancers, high school students, homeless alcoholics, and movie actors who run for public office. Sometimes they even win.

ETpro's avatar

How about the Vietnam War guy in the New York Governor’s race. He always wears black, including black gloves, and he is running on The Rent is too Damned High ticket.

incendiary_dan's avatar

If we want to get technical, Hawai’i isn’t a state. The land is an occupied territory, and constitutionally can not be considered a state since the vote to make it a state was verifiably fabricated and falsified.

But when did silly things like law ever get in the way colonialism?

Do you still count as a citizen if you’re born in an occupied territory?

ETpro's avatar

@incendiary_dan Descendant of a plantation owner, are you? I was around back in 1959 when that vote was held. The Statehood initiative won by 94.1%. The massive street celebrations looked real enough for my eyes. As far a conquered territory, the entire USA is that. We took it from the Indians by military force, you know. Does that means no state is a state?

You can take that conspiracy theory up to the Supreme Court along with all the other conspiracy theories on how Obama isn’t President because his
1—His birth certificate is a forgery
2—He was secretly born in Kenya
3—He’s secretly Muslim
4—He’s really a British citizen
5—He’s an alien shape-shifter posing cleverly as a human.

YARNLADY's avatar

@ETpro A shape -shifter, I did not know that

laureth's avatar

@incendiary_dan – [citation needed]

incendiary_dan's avatar

Sorry for the lateness; just moved and no internet at home.

@ETpro It’s not a conspiracy theory, it’s an assertion of indigenous sovereignty. Don’t assume I’m a birther, or any other sort of idiot. I studied indigenous sovereignty and resistance movements as part of my undergrad in Anthropology. One avenue by which the vote was illegal, by the way, was that people who shouldn’t have a say (people who weren’t members of the sovereign nation of Hawai’i, i.e. plantation owners’ descendents) were allowed to vote, so your recollections of “massive street celebrations” are pretty irrelevent.

As for you remark about all of the U.S. being conquered territory, that’s kind of what I was trying to hint at. But actually, even the most vehemently anti-U.S. scholars (Churchill, et al) tend to cede that at most, ⅔ of the settlement is illegitimate, as it violates treaties with the sovereign nations that have rightful claim. Between ⅓ and ⅔ of the landmass currently claimed by the U.S. is legitimately settled under treaties.

Also, try not to be patronizing, or at least take the time to check out someone’s profile so you don’t mak an ass out of yourself.

@laureth It’s been awhile since I did that undergrad work I mentioned, so I don’t recall specific books, but a few authors spring to mind: Ward Churchill, Noam Chomsky, and Howard Zinn have all mentioned the illegal seizure of Hawai’i in their writings. I also found this site with some great information, particularly on the page linked, particularly the page about the legal foundation for independence. I also particularly like the video at the beginning there, since I’m a fan of The Pinky Show.

ETpro's avatar

@incendiary_dan Actually, I do not believe I made an ass of myself. Despite your misgivings about the street clelbrations being real, 94.1% of the vote is compelling enough for me. I leave it to the rest of the members here to form their own judgment on who is doing that.

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