When will "Vote by Mail" ballots be mailed out to voters?
Vote by mail ballots for Military and Overseas citizens will be mailed no later than 45 days in advance of the election.
For domestic voters, the initial batch of vote by mail ballots will be mailed out between the 35th and 28th days prior to an election to those voters who have already requested them. Subsequent mailings will be mailed out on a daily basis as new requests are received.
Can a candidate be his/her own campaign treasurer?
A candidate may serve as his/her own campaign treasurer. (see 106.021) Campaigning is very demanding. We advise that a candidate appoint a treasurer , in addition to him/herself, known as a deputy treasurer.
What Are Domestic Partners?
The Punta Gorda Code defines "domestic partners" as two adults who are parties to a valid domestic partnership relationship and who meet the following requirements for a domestic partnership as established in Chapter 19, Article I:
1. Each partner is at least eighteen (18) years old and competent to contract;
2. Neither partner is currently married under Florida law or is a partner in a domestic partnership relationship with someone other than the co-applicant or a member of civil union with anyone other than the co-applicant;
3. The partners are not related by blood as defined in Florida law;
4. Each partner considers himself or herself to be a member of the immediate family of the other partner and to be jointly responsible for maintaining and supporting the registered domestic partnership;
5. The partners reside in a mutual residence;
6. Each partner agrees to immediately notify the City Clerk, in writing, if the terms of the Registered Domestic Partnership are no longer applicable or if one of the domestic partners wishes to terminate the domestic partnership; and
7. Each partner expressly declares the desire and intent to designate his or her domestic partner as healthcare surrogate and as agent to direct the disposition of his or her body for funeral and burial or cremation.
All rights, privileges and benefits extended to domestic partnerships registered pursuant to this Article shall also be extended to domestic partnerships registered pursuant to domestic partnership laws in other jurisdictions to the extent allowed by law. If a conflict occurs between jurisdictions, this Article shall govern in the City.
How long does it take to obtain a Local Business Tax Receipt?
Approximately two weeks. You can contact the City Clerk's Office for the status of your application by calling (941)575-3369.
If I do receive a contribution after I withdraw, become unopposed or after I am elected or eliminated, what do I do with it?
The contribution shall be returned to the person contributing it and shall not be used or expended by or on behalf of the candidate.
Who may serve as a campaign treasurer?
Any registered voter in the state.
Can two candidates have a fund raiser together?
There are no restrictions on two candidates having a fund raiser together as long as they adhere to all the requirements of Chapter 106 and keep track of individual contributions.
Can I put my campaign funds in a savings account and earn interest on them?
Can I accept contributions from people who do not reside in Florida?
Yes. Chapter 106 Does not distinguish between Florida and non-Florida individuals for contribution purposes.
Can I still accept contributions after I take office?
No. A candidate has 90 days to dispose of campaign funds in a campaign account after he/she becomes unopposed, withdraws or is eliminated or elected, which ever comes first. (see 106.141)
May I continue to accept contributions to pay a campaign debt after I lose or win an election?
No. A candidate may not accept a contribution after he is defeated, becomes unopposed, or is elected to office. Only refunds, such as deposits, for example, deposits required for erecting signs, are permitted.
If I am elected, defeated, unopposed, or withdraw my candidacy, what must I do with surplus funds?
A candidate must dispose of surplus funds pursuant to Chapter 106.141. See 106.141 for the various methods allowable by law for disposing of surplus funds.
Must I have a disclaimer on my campaign advertisements?
Yes. Political disclaimer information is provided by the Division of Elections and the Supervisor of Elections.
Can I accept anonymous contributions?
No. Chapter 106 requires a candidate to maintain records of each contribution and its source.
Can I accept cash contributions?
Yes. Chapter 106 limits any single cash contribution or contribution by cashier’s check to no more than $50. This $50 limitation does not apply to personal or business checks and other things of value.
What is the cut-off date for an opposed candidate to receive a contribution prior to an election?
No later than midnight five (5) days prior to the election. For a Tuesday election the cut-off would be the Thursday prior to the election at midnight.
What is an in-kind contribution?
An in-kind contribution is anything of value made for the purpose of influencing an election. In- kind contributions are subject to the $1000 contribution limit. In-kind contributions are not actual money but rather goods or services provided that have a monetary value attached to them such as: printing services, wood for signs, office space, office equipment, etc.
What are the maximum contribution limits in Florida? (see 106.08)
(combination of monetary and/or in-kind)
To a candidate for countywide office or to a candidate in any election conducted on less than a countywide basis, $1000.
To a candidate for legislative or multi-county office, $1000.
To a candidate for statewide office, $3000.
To a candidate for county court judge or circuit judge, $1000.
To a candidate for retention as a judge of a district court of appeal, $1000.
To a candidate for retention as a justice of the supreme court, $3000.
NOTE: The contribution limits provided above do not apply to contributions made by state or executive committees of a political party or to amounts contributed by a candidate to his own campaign.
The limitations do apply to each election. The primary and general election are deemed separate elections. However, for the purpose of contribution limits with respect to candidates for retention as a justice or judge, there is only one election. With respect to candidates in a circuit holding an election for circuit judge or in a county holding and election for county court judge, there are two elections, which are the primary and the general.
NOTE: No contributions may be received by a candidate or his treasurer after the date at which the candidate:
Withdraws his candidacy.
Is elected to office or eliminated.
If I don’t collect or spend any money during a reporting period, do I still have to file a campaign treasurer’s report?
In any reporting period during which a candidate has not received funds or made any expenditures, the filing of the required report for that period may be waived. The candidate must indicate there is no activity by filing a waiver of report. This is accomplished by clicking on the "Submit Waiver" button on the right side of the "Entering Financial Report Data" page. The next report filed must specify that the report covers the entire period between the last submitted report and the report being filed.
Where can I get required forms?
Chapter 106 forms, which are prescribed by the Secretary of State, are available from the Division of Elections and local supervisors of elections. NOTE: It is suggested that forms be obtained from the appropriate filing officer.
What are my responsibilities as a candidate for reporting campaign fund activities?
Each candidate is personally responsible for compliance with Chapter 106 requirements to designate a campaign treasurer, maintain records of contributions and expenditures and file campaign reports of contributions and expenditures with the appropriate filing officer. Failure to file a campaign report on the designated due date will result in a fine of $50 per day for each late day or 25% of total receipts or expenditures, whichever is greater. Fines increase for campaign reports due immediately before a primary or general election.
I may run for office in Florida. When may I begin raising campaign funds?
A potential candidate may begin raising campaign funds at any time after filing with the appropriate filing officer and designating a campaign treasurer and bank.
What do I need to bring with me to the Clerk’s office to register?
1. Your partner
2. Photo identification (Driver’s license or other State issued ID, passport or military ID.)
3. $30.00 in cash or check made payable to the City of Punta Gorda
Do we need to complete the domestic partnership registry affidavit before coming to the City Clerk’s office?
No, we have provided the sample form on the City’s website on the City Clerk’s main page for your information and review, but it should not be signed until you and your partner come to the City Clerk’s Office in person.
What happens if my domestic partner and I break up or our partnership ends?
Either party to a registered domestic partnership may terminate the registry by filing a notarized affidavit of Termination of Domestic Partnership, with payment of the required $30.00 fee, with the City Clerk. Upon payment of the required fee, the City Clerk shall record the affidavit and the termination shall become effective immediately.
A registered domestic partnership shall automatically terminate upon notice to the City Clerk of the following events:
1. One (or both) of the domestic partners marries under Florida law.
2. One of the domestic partners dies (provided however, the provisions relating to funeral and burial decisions shall survive); or
3. One of the domestic partners registers with another partner.
The marrying, surviving or re-registering domestic partner(s) shall file an affidavit terminating the domestic partnership relationship within ten (10) days of one of the occurrences listed in this section; however, the failure to file such affidavit shall not affect the automatic termination.
Can I keep my registration information private?
No, the City of Punta Gorda is a Florida municipal corporation and its business documents are public records under Florida law. There are no exemptions applicable to the Affidavit of Domestic Partnership Registration, which will be recorded in the Official Records of Charlotte County.
What proof will we receive showing that we have registered?
Each partner will receive a laminated wallet card.
I lost my Local Business Tax Receipt. Can it be replaced, and if so, what is the charge.
Yes - the cost of a duplicate receipt is $5.00 and can be obtained at the City Clerk's Office.
How do I volunteer to serve on a City Board?
Complete and submit the Board Appointment Information Form (and resume if you have one) to the City Clerk's Office. For more information, contact the City Clerk's Office at (941) 575-3369.
Do you have to register in person? Why?
Yes, both partners must come to the City Clerk’s Office together in person to register. The City’s Domestic Partnership Registry Affidavit requires specific formalities with respect to being witnessed and notarized and the Clerk’s staff is trained to ensure that the Affidavit is completed correctly.
What is the cost of registering?
The initial registration is $30.00. This is payable in cash or a check made payable to the City of Punta Gorda and must be submitted at the time of registration. If your registration needs to be amended in the future, the cost to amend the registration is $30.00. The cost of terminating the Domestic Partnership Registry is $30.00.
What does “mutual residence” mean? What if we own more than one house?
The City Code defines "mutual residence" (excerpted below) and does not require that the couple only own one house.
Mutual residence means a residence shared by the registered domestic partners; it is not necessary that the legal right to possess the place of residence be in both of their names. Two people may share a mutual residence even if one or both have additional places to live. Registered domestic partners do not cease to share a mutual residence if one leaves the shared place but intends to return.
What is the purpose of the Domestic Partnership Registry?
The Punta Gorda City Council found that a significant number of its citizens establish and maintain important personal, emotional, and economic relationships with persons to whom they are not married. To the extent not superseded or preempted by federal law, state law, or other city code or ordinance, or contrary to rights conferred by contract or separate legal instrument, registered domestic partners shall have the following rights:
(a) Health Care Facility Visitation. All health care facilities operating within the City shall honor the registered domestic partnership documentation issued pursuant to this code as evidence of the partnership and shall allow a registered domestic partner visitation as provided under federal law. A dependent of a registered domestic partner shall have the same visitation rights as a patient’s child.
(b) Health Care Decisions. This section pertains to decisions concerning both physical and mental health. Registry as a domestic partner shall be considered to be written direction by each partner designating the other to make health care decisions for their incapacitated partner, and shall authorize each partner to act as the other’s healthcare surrogate as provided in Chapter 765, Florida Statutes, and otherwise as provided by federal law. Further, no person designated as a health care surrogate shall be denied or otherwise defeated in serving as a health care surrogate based solely upon his or her status as the registered domestic partner of the partner on whose behalf health care decisions are to be made. Any statutory form, including but not limited to, a living will or health care surrogate designation in the forms prescribed by Chapter 765, Florida Statutes, that is properly executed after the date of registration which contain conflicting designations shall control over the designations made by virtue of the domestic partnership registration.
(c) Funeral/Burial Decisions. Registry as a domestic partner shall be considered to be written direction by the decedent of his or her intention to have his or her domestic partner direct the disposition of the decedent’s body for funeral and burial purposes as provided in Chapter 497, Florida Statutes, unless the decedent provides conflicting, written authorization and directions during his or her lifetime that are dated after the date of the domestic partnership registration, in which case the later dated authorization and directions shall control.
(d) Notification of Family Members. In any situation providing for mandatory or permissible notification of family members, including but not limited to notification of family members in an emergency, "notification of family" shall include registered domestic partners.
(e) Participation in Education. To the extent allowed by federal and state law, and in a manner consistent with any applicable court orders, agreements or contracts, a registered domestic partner shall have the same rights as a parent to participate in the education of a dependent of the registered domestic partnership in all educational facilities located within or under the jurisdiction of the City. Any right to participate in the education of a dependent of the registered domestic partnership shall be exercised consistent with applicable policies and procedures of the Charlotte County School District.
Nothing in this Article shall be interpreted to alter, affect, or contradict city, county, state or federal law. This registry shall not be construed as recognizing or treating a domestic partnership as a marriage nor shall it be construed as creating any third party rights or actions nor shall anything in this Article be construed to impose liability upon a domestic partner for any expenses of his or her domestic partner.
A registered domestic partner may enforce the rights under this Article by filing a private judicial action against a person or entity in any court of competent jurisdiction for declaratory relief, injunctive relief, or both, or such other remedy as may be legally available to them.
Where do we go to register?
The Punta Gorda City Clerk is responsible for administering the Registry. The City Clerk’s Office is located in City Hall, 326 West Marion Avenue, Punta Gorda, Florida.
You do not need to be a resident of the City of Punta Gorda to register. However, the Registry is only applicable to facilities located within Punta Gorda City limits.
When can we come to register?
The Domestic Partnership Registry Ordinance was adopted on April 2, 2014. Registration will begin Monday, April 21, 2014 during regular business hours (8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday) and will continue thereafter. If you have any questions, please contact the City Clerk’s Office at 941-575-3369.