How Petitions Work
A petition is a formal written request, signed by citizens affected by or having an opinion on the issue in question. In North Carolina, citizens use petitions to put candidates and issues on the ballot, waive filing fees, or form state-recognized political parties.
Familiarize yourself with the laws governing the specific type of petition you want to create. This page reviews the petition process and provides laws, due dates, forms, and petition sheets. The petition sheets provided must be used to collect signatures. Signatures cannot be collected electronically. Blanks at the top of each petition sheet must be completed before collecting any signatures.
Contact your county board of elections office for information and the status of a petition you initiated there. To check the status of petitions filed with the State Board:
Instructions for Filing Petitions
1. Do Not Hurt Your Own Petition
Check the fact sheets provided for the type of petition you wish to pursue.1 Please ask questions.
Determine whether your petition addresses a contest that takes place in a single county (which means you will be working with the appropriate county board of elections) or if your petition will affect multiple counties or the entire state (in which case you will be working with both county and state boards of election.) In rare instances, a petition (such as for Sanitary or Fire Districts) will be submitted to a different reviewing authority. If you are uncertain, please ask!
3. Complete a Petition Request Form
This ensures your petition drive will be conducted correctly and that the petition itself will be processed efficiently.
- With the exception of unaffiliated judicial petitions,2 a petition that affects a contest within one county will be handled by that county. Submit this request form to that county.
- Access a directory for county boards of election.
- If the petition affects a contest that crosses county lines or affects the entire state, submit the petition request form to the State Board of Election at this email address: email@example.com.
4. Collect Signatures
Use the recommended signature collection forms appropriate to your petition to simplify the process for yourself, the signers, and staff who must verify signatures. You can receive those forms from your county board of elections or the State Board of Elections. You will be gathering the signatures of qualified voters who reside in the applicable county or counties. Remember:
- You must separate signature pages by county (if more than one county is involved). This is crucial, since the county board of elections for the affected county or counties will have to verify the signatures. A county is only able to verify signatures of voters within that county.
- No one may sign a petition on behalf of another person
- Signatures must be originals (please use INK); no electronic signatures will be counted. (Photocopies of signed forms are not accepted by county or state elections offices.
5. Submit Signatures for Verification
First, submit signature pages for petitions that affect more than one county to those county boards of election by a certain deadline so staff may verify signatures. Then, submit the completed petition (comprising all the signature pages) to the State Board of Elections. Please review the petition fact sheet that is specific to your petition type.
6. Submit Final Documentation
Depending upon the type of petition, you might have to submit the county-verified signature pages to the State Board of Elections after the county board(s) verification process.
1 Fact Sheets address specific types of petitions: ABC; Petition in Lieu of Fee; Unaffiliated; New Party; and Write-In.
2 Unaffiliated judicial petitions and the petition request forms to be submitted by the interested candidate are always managed directly with the State Board of Elections, regardless of the jurisdictional boundaries of the seat.
Unaffiliated Candidate Petitions General Overview
On this page, you will find the procedure to nominate an unaffiliated candidate to appear on the ballot, per N.C.G.S. § 163-122.
Requirements and Timeline
Find requirements and deadlines below, and refer to the Unaffiliated Candidates for Elections in 2021 and 2022 Fact Sheet (PDF) for additional information.
|Reason for Petition||Number of Required Signatures||When Are Petitions Due?*||Governing Statutes|
|…in the contest for President of the U.S.||1.5% of all registered N.C. voters who voted in the most recent election for N.C. Governor.||Noon on the day of the primary election to CBE.||N.C.G.S. §163-122(a)(1), §163-209, Session Law 2017-214|
|…in the contest for N.C General Assembly if district lies in more than one county.||4% of all registered N.C. voters in the district, as of January 1 of the election year.||Noon on the day of the primary election to CBE.||N.C.G.S. §163-122(a)(1), Session Law 2017-214|
|…in a statewide contest.||1.5% of all registered N.C. voters who voted in the most recent election for N.C. Governor.||Noon on the day of the primary election to CBE.||N.C.G.S. §163-122(a)(1), Session Law 2017-214|
|…in a district contest except for N.C. General Assembly.||1.5% of all registered N.C. voters in the district, as of January 1 of the election year.||Noon on the day of the primary election to CBE.||N.C.G.S. §163-122(a)(2), Session Law 2017-214|
|…in a contest for Superior Court or District Court Judge.||2% of all registered N.C. voters in the district, as of January 1 of the election year.||Noon on the day of the primary election to CBE.||N.C.G.S. §163-122(a)(1), Session Law 2017-214|
|…in a county contest or single-county legislative district contest.||4% of all registered N.C. voters within the county or district.||Noon on the day of the primary election to CBE.||Session Law 2017-214|
|…in a municipal contest.||1.5% of all registered N.C. voters within the municipality.||Noon on the Friday preceding the 7th Saturday before the election.||N.C.G.S. §163-122(a)(4)|
*All state petitions should be submitted to the State Board of Elections unless otherwise noted.