27-Year-Old Is Trying to Run for President -- You Too Can Be a "Presidential Candidate"

The Constitution dictates that in addition to being a citizen and a U.S. resident for at least 14 years, a presidential candidate must be at least 35 years old. Calling the last requirement "age discrimination," 27-year-old South Floridian Ryan Lipner is plowing forward with his quest for the presidency, and on September 19, he sent a letter to the Florida Division of Elections stating his intention to run for the highest office.

In return, the Florida Department of State sent him a letter addressed to "Mr. Ryan Lipner, Candidate for President of the United States," acknowledging that he has been placed on the state's active candidate list on the Division of Elections website

Though the words presidential candidate form an impressive title, the term leaps ahead of its meaning this early in the process.

A spokesperson for the Florida Department of State explains that the Division of Elections online candidate list is strictly informational and that the people listed are not recognized by their declared parties or in any official capacity. The spokesperson clarifies that the website is used for people to notify the public of their intent but that it does not, in any way, make someone a legitimate candidate. Essentially, it's the U.S. democracy's built-in ego stroke for anyone who wishes to partake.

For someone to qualify as a presidential candidate on the 2012 primary ballot in Florida, that person's party must nominate him or her for subsequent approval by the Presidential Candidate Selection Committee, in accordance with the Federal Qualifying Handbook -- or the presidential hopeful could file paperwork as a write-in candidate, and voters could then add that person's name to the ballot to cast a vote in his or her favor -- a rarely used political long shot. So, if you too would like to run for president, you may want to rethink your chances of becoming a bona fide candidate.

Lipner says that he became a "presidential candidate" in both 2004 and 2008 (when New Times previously caught up with him) and that he truly feels he should be president and is not pursuing this as a joke or making a mockery of our democracy. Lipner is known for his obsession with Hallmark stores as a teen and for opening branches without the company's permission, leading him "to grand theft, bankruptcy, imprisonment, and possibly insanity -- all before his 18th birthday," according to a 2001 New Times story

Lipner says he will take his candidacy as far as he can and will fight the age limit in court, challenging the Constitution for a shot at a line on the ballot. For better or worse, he says, he has never allowed age to interject between him and his goals.

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Leslie Minora