The process to get on the ballot varies greatly from state to state, creating a maze of requirements that campaigns must meet: petitions to be collected, signatures to be counted and notifications made to political parties, elections boards and state agencies. Caucus states like Iowa generally require far less legwork. Some states require a specific number of petition signatures from each congressional district. In Virginia, the people who collect the signatures must be Virginia residents.
Don’t make the ballot in time? You lose the chance to win any of those state’s delegates. A Brookings Institution analysis this week found that a candidate who misses the filing deadlines through January could forfeit as many as 2,232 delegates, a current estimate of the number needed to win the nomination.
While Clinton has hundreds of campaign staffers in Brooklyn and across the country who have been working the process for months, Biden would have to play catch-up in a matter of weeks. Over the summer, Biden’s political advisers started researching filing deadlines and other logistical requirements, aides said, but can’t start actively organizing unless and until he takes formal steps to enter the race.