Election Laws


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Section 17-5-2

Definitions.

(a) For purposes of this chapter, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

(1) CANDIDATE. An individual who has done any of the following:

a. Taken the action necessary under the laws of the state to qualify himself or herself for nomination or for election to any state office or local office or in the case of an independent seeking ballot access, on the date when he or she files a petition with the judge of probate in the case of county offices, with the appropriate qualifying municipal official in the case of municipal offices, or the Secretary of State in all other cases.

b. Received contributions or made expenditures in excess of one thousand dollars ($1,000), or given his or her consent for any other person or persons to receive contributions or make expenditures in excess of one thousand dollars ($1,000), with a view to bringing about his or her nomination or election to any state office or local office.

(2) COMMISSION. The State Ethics Commission created pursuant to Section 36-25-3.

(3) CONTRIBUTION.

a. Any of the following shall be considered a contribution:

1. A gift, subscription, loan, advance, deposit of money or anything of value, a payment, a forgiveness of a loan, or payment of a third party, made for the purpose of influencing the result of an election.

2. A contract or agreement to make a gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value for the purpose of influencing the result of an election.

3. Any transfer of anything of value received by a political committee from another political committee, political party, or other source.

4. The payment of compensation by any person for the personal services or expenses of any other person if the services are rendered or expenses incurred on behalf of a candidate, political committee, or political party without payment of full and adequate compensation by the candidate, political committee, or political party. Provided, however, that the payment of compensation by a corporation for the purpose of establishing, administering, or soliciting voluntary contributions to a separate, segregated fund as permitted in this chapter, shall not constitute a contribution.

b. The term "contribution" does not include:

1. The value of services provided without compensation by individuals who volunteer a portion or all of their time on behalf of a candidate or political committee.

2. The use of real or personal property and the cost of invitations, food, or beverages, voluntarily provided by an individual to a candidate or political committee in rendering voluntary personal services on the individual's residential or business premises for election-related activities.

3. The sale of any food or beverage by a vendor for use in an election campaign at a charge to a candidate or political committee less than the normal comparable charge, if the charge to the political committee for use in an election campaign is at least equal to the cost of the food or beverage to the vendor.

4. Any unreimbursed payment for travel expenses made by an individual who, on his or her own behalf, volunteers personal services to a candidate or political committee.

5. The payment by a state or local committee of a political party of the cost of preparation, display, or mailing or other distribution incurred by the committee with respect to a printed slate card or sample ballot, or other printed listing of two or more candidates for any public office for which an election is held in the state, except that this subparagraph shall not apply in the case of costs incurred by the committee with respect to a display of the listing made on broadcasting stations, or in newspapers, magazines, or other similar types of general public political advertising.

6. The value or cost of polling data and voter preference data and information if provided to a candidate or political committee, unless the information was compiled with the advance knowledge of and approval of the candidate or the political committee.

c. For purposes of reporting contributions as required by this chapter, the date of receipt of a contribution shall be the first date the recipient of the contribution is able to make use of the contribution. In the case of a contribution in the form of a check, the date of receipt is the earlier of either of the following:

1. Ten days from the date that the check came within the recipient's control.

2. The date that the check was deposited into the recipient's account.

(4) DESIGNATED FILING AGENT. An individual appointed and authorized as attorney in fact to electronically submit any report or other filing required by this chapter on behalf of a candidate, his or her principal campaign committee, or a political action committee.

(5) ELECTION. Unless otherwise specified, any general, special, primary, or runoff election, or any convention or caucus of a political party held to nominate a candidate, or any election at which a constitutional amendment or other proposition is submitted to the popular vote.

(6) ELECTIONEERING COMMUNICATION. Any communication disseminated through any federally regulated broadcast media, any mailing, or other distribution, electronic communication, phone bank, or publication which (i) contains the name or image of a candidate; (ii) is made within 120 days of an election in which the candidate will appear on the ballot; (iii) the only reasonable conclusion to be drawn from the presentation and content of the communication is that it is intended to influence the outcome of an election; and (iv) entails an expenditure in excess of one thousand dollars ($1,000).

(7) EXPENDITURE.

a. The following shall be considered expenditures:

1. A purchase, payment, distribution, loan, advance, deposit, or gift of money or anything of value made for the purpose of influencing the result of an election.

2. A contract or agreement to make any purchase, payment, distribution, loan, advance, deposit, or gift of money or anything of value, for the purpose of influencing the result of an election.

3. The transfer, gift, or contribution of funds of a political committee to another political committee.

4. The payment of any qualifying fee or other cost associated with qualifying to run for office.

b. The term "expenditure" does not include:

1. Any news story, commentary, or editorial prepared by and distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, unless the facilities are owned or controlled by any political party or political committee.

2. Nonpartisan activity designed to encourage individuals to register to vote, or to vote.

3. Any communication by any membership organization to its members or by a corporation to its stockholders and employees if the membership organization or corporation is not organized primarily for the purpose of influencing the result of an election.

4. The use of real or personal property and the cost of invitations, food, or beverages, voluntarily provided by an individual in rendering voluntary personal services on the individual's residential or business premises for election-related activities.

5. Any unreimbursed payment for travel expenses made by an individual who, on his or her own behalf, volunteers personal services to a candidate or political committee.

6. Any communication by any person which is not made for the purposes of influencing the result of an election.

7. The payment by a state or local committee of a political party of the cost of preparation, display, or mailing or other distribution incurred by the committee with respect to a printed slate card or sample ballot, or other printed listing of two or more candidates for any public office for which an election is held in the state, except that this subparagraph shall not apply in the case of costs incurred by the committee with respect to a display of the listing made on broadcasting stations, or in newspapers, magazines, or other similar types of general public political advertising.

c. For purposes of reporting expenditures as required by this chapter, the date an expenditure is made is the date the instrument authorizes the expenditure. In the case of an expenditure made by check or electronic payment, the date of expenditure is the date of the check or electronic payment.

(8) IDENTIFICATION. The full name and complete address.

(9) LOAN. A transfer of money, property, or anything of value in consideration of a promise or obligation, conditional or not, to repay in whole or part.

(10) LOCAL OFFICE. Any office under the constitution and laws of the state, except circuit, district, or legislative offices, filled by election of the registered voters of a single county or municipality, or by the voters of a division contained within a county or municipality.

(11) PERSON. An individual, partnership, committee, association, corporation, labor organization, or any other organization or group of persons.

(12) PERSONAL AND LEGISLATIVE LIVING EXPENSES. Household supplies, personal clothing, tuition payments, mortgage, rent, or utility payments for a personal residence; admission to an entertainment event or fees for a country club or social club, unless tied to a specific campaign event or functions involving constituents; and any other expense, excluding food and beverages, that would exist irrespective of the candidate's campaign or duties as a legislator. Personal and legislative living expenses shall not include expenses for food, beverages, travel, or communications incurred by the legislator in the performance of the office held.

(13) POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE. Any committee, club, association, political party, or other group of one or more persons, whether in-state or out-of-state, which receives or anticipates receiving contributions and makes or anticipates making expenditures to or on behalf of any Alabama state or local elected official, proposition, candidate, principal campaign committee or other political action committee. For the purposes of this chapter, a person who makes a political contribution shall not be considered a political action committee by virtue of making such contribution.

(14) POLITICAL PARTY. A political party as defined in Section 17-13-40.

(15) PRINCIPAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE. The principal campaign committee designated by a candidate under Section 17-5-4. A political action committee established primarily to benefit an individual candidate or an individual elected official shall be considered a principal campaign committee for purposes of this chapter.

(16) PROPOSITION. Any proposal for submission to the general public for its approval or rejection, including proposed as well as qualified ballot questions.

(17) PUBLIC OFFICIAL. Any person elected to public office, whether or not that person has taken office, by the vote of the people at the state, county, or municipal level of government or their instrumentalities, including governmental corporations, and any person appointed to a position at the state, county, or municipal level of government or their instrumentalities, including governmental corporations. For purposes of this chapter, a public official includes the chairs and vice chairs or the equivalent offices of each state political party as defined in Section 17-13-40.

(18) STATE. The State of Alabama.

(19) STATE OFFICE. All offices under the constitution and laws of the state filled by election of the registered voters of the state or of any circuit or district and shall include legislative offices.

(b) The words and terms used in this chapter shall have the same meanings respectively ascribed to them in Section 36-25-1.

(Acts 1988, 1st Ex. Sess., No. 88-873, p. 397, §2; Acts 1997, No. 97-651, p. 1217, §1; §17-22A-2; amended and renumbered by Act 2006-570, p. 1331, §24; Act 2011-697, p. 2130, §2; Act 2013-311, p. 1060, §1; Act 2015-495, §1.)
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