Petition Information

Petitions in North Carolina

Click here to track the status of petitions initiated with the State Board of Elections office

Petitions are used to place candidates and issues upon ballots. Only certain types of petitions are allowed by law.

Before you begin distributing a petition, you need to be aware of the laws governing your particular petition, as well as general provisions pertaining to petitions in North Carolina. This page reviews the petition process and provides the applicable laws, due dates, forms, and petition sheets. The petition sheets located here, which contain the required information for the different types of petitions, must be used. Blanks at the top of the petition sheet must be completed before collecting any signatures.

Instructions for filing petitions

Now, follow these links and instructions:

  1. Consult the information below to know which office receives your petition and other details. There, you will find the number of required signatures for different types of petitions, due dates, and applicable laws. Petitions that are under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Elections are still initially verified by the local County Board of Elections office.
  2. Start the petition process. If the petition is under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Elections, complete a Petition Request Form, which can be e-mailed to the address petition.sboe@ncsbe.gov. If the petition is under the jurisdiction of the County Board of Elections or other office, contact that office. A list of County Board of Elections offices can be found here. 
  3. Collect signatures. File your petition sheets with the County Board of Elections where the voters who sign are registered. Use one set of petition forms for each county. If a voter does not reside in the applicable area for the petition, his or her signature will not be counted. Persons cannot sign the petition for anyone other than himself or herself. Signatures collected must be original signatures, not electronically made or reproduced.   
  4. Submit the signatures for verification by the local elections office. The County Board of Elections office will check and certify qualifying petition signatures and return the original petition sheet(s) back. The signatures can be checked all at once, or in batches. For example, you may want to submit a page of signatures once all lines on that page have been filled out. (Note: Some local types of petitions, such as Sanitary District or Fire District, do not go to the County Board of Elections. See below for more information.)
  5. Submit final documentation. Once the required number of signatures have been verified, the petitioner can submit any remaining documentation, required along with the pages of signatures, to the office that has jurisdiction over the petition. If the petition is under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Elections, submit the original petition sheets to the State Board of Elections by the date required (the petition's expiration date).

State and multi-county election petitions (under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Elections)

(Signatures checked by County Board of Elections office)

Type of petition

Required signatures

All materials due to SBE (expiration date)

Petitions due to CBEs

Statutes and notes

Unaffiliated candidate, statewide contest

2% of all registered voters who voted in most recent General Election for Governor

Last Friday in June of election year, noon

15 days prior to expiration date

NCGS 163-122(a)(1)

Unaffiliated candidate presidential (statewide) contest

2% of all registered voters who voted in most recent General Election for Governor

Last Friday in June of presidential election year, noon

15 days prior to expiration date

NCGS 163-122(a)(1), 163-209, 163-1 (VP candidate selection due to SBE by the first Friday in August, noon; names of presidential electors and alternates also due to be filed with the Secretary of State’s office at that same time)

Unaffiliated candidate, district (multi-county) contest

4% of the district’s registered voters (as of January 1 of the election year)

Last Friday in June of election year, noon

15 days prior to expiration date

NCGS 163-122(a)(2)

Write-in candidate, statewide contest

500 registered voters of the State

90 days before General Election, noon

15 days prior to expiration date

NCGS 163-123(c)(1)

Write-in candidate, presidential (statewide) contest

500 registered voters of the State

90 days before General Election, noon

15 days prior to expiration date

NCGS 163-123(c)(1) , (the statutes don’t speak to selection of VP and presidential electors, so follow procedure for unaffiliated presidential candidates in NCGS 163-209, 163-1)

Write-in candidate, district (multi-county) contest

250 registered voters in the election area in which the office will be voted for

90 days before General Election, noon

15 days prior to expiration date

NCGS 163-123(c)(2)

Petition in lieu of payment of filing fee (in seeking nomination in a party primary), statewide contest

If the party is recognized: 5% of party’s registered voters (as of January 1 of the election year), or 8,000 registered voters of any affiliation, whichever number is greater).

 

If the party is not recognized: 10,000 persons who at the time of signing are registered voters and affiliated with the petitioner’s party.

Monday, noon, preceding the candidate filing deadline (last business day in February of election year)

15 days prior to expiration date

NCGS 163-107.1(b), 163-106(c), 163-96(a)(2)

Petition in lieu of payment of filing fee (in seeking nomination in a party primary, district (multi-county) contest

5% of the registered voters affiliated with the petitioner’s party in the election area in which the office will be voted for (as of January 1 of the election year), or 200 registered voters of any affiliation, whichever number is greater

Monday, noon, preceding the candidate filing deadline (last business day in February of election year)

15 days prior to expiration date

NCGS 163-107.1(c), 163-106(c)

Petition in lieu of payment of filing fee (in seeking nomination in a non-partisan primary/election, district (multi-county) contest

5% of the registered voters in the election area in which the office will be voted for (as of January 1 of the election year)

Monday, noon, preceding the candidate filing deadline (last business day in February of election year)

15 days prior to expiration date

NCGS 163-107.1(d), 163-106(c),

Petition in lieu of payment of filing fee, Supreme Court Justice, Court of Appeals Judge, Superior Court Judge or District Court Judge

8,000 registered voters of the State or applicable district

Monday, noon, preceding the candidate filing deadline (last business day in February of election year)

15 days prior to expiration date

NCGS 163-325

Petition in lieu of payment of filing fee, superior court or district court judge

5% of the registered voters in the judicial district

Monday, noon, preceding the candidate filing deadline (last business day in February of election year)

15 days prior to expiration date

NCGS 163-325

Presidential party nomination

10,000 persons who at the time of signing are registered voters and affiliated with the party that the petitioner seeks the endorsement of

Monday, 5:00 p.m., immediately before State Board’s meeting to nominate presidential candidates (First Tuesday in March of presidential election year)

10 days before the regular candidate filing deadline (last business day in February of election year)

NCGS 163-213.5, 163-213.4, 163-106(c)

New political party

2% of all registered voters who voted in most recent General Election for Governor

June 1, noon, of the year of the General Election that the party wishes to participate in

15 days prior to expiration date

NCGS 163-96

 

County and local election petitions (under the jurisdiction of the County Board of Elections)

Type of petition

Required signatures

All materials due to CBE (expiration date)

Statutes and notes

Unaffiliated candidate, county or district contest (if the district is entirely within one county)

4% of the district’s registered voters (as of January 1 of the election year)

Last Friday in June of election year, noon

NCGS 163-122(a)(3)

Unaffiliated candidate, partisan municipal contest

4% of the district’s registered voters (as of January 1 of the election year)

Friday preceding the seventh Saturday before the election, noon

NCGS 163-122(a)(4), 163-296

Write-in candidate, county office, school administrative unit elected on a partisan basis, or district (if the district is entirely within one county)

If 5,000 or more registered voters are in the area or district: 100 registered voters in the election area in which the office will be voted for

If fewer than 5,000 registered voters are in the area or district: 1% registered voters in the election area in which the office will be voted for

(All registration statistics are based upon the latest data available)

90 days before General Election, noon

NCGS 163-123(c)(3)

Petition in lieu of payment of filing fee (in seeking nomination in a party primary, in a county, municipal or district contest (if the election area is entirely within one county)

5% of the registered voters affiliated with the petitioner’s party in the election area in which the office will be voted for (as of January 1 of the election year), or 200 registered voters of any affiliation, whichever number is greater

Monday, noon, preceding the candidate filing deadline (last business day in February of election year)

NCGS 163-107.1(c), 163-106(c)

Petition in lieu of payment of filing fee (in seeking in a county, municipal or district contest (if the election area is entirely within one county)

5% of the registered voters in the election area in which the office will be voted for (as of January 1 of the election year)

Monday, noon, preceding the candidate filing deadline (last business day in February of election year)

NCGS 163-107.1(d), 163-106(c)

ABC (alcoholic beverage sale) election, county

Note: ABC elections can also be called by the County Commission

35% of the registered voters in the county at the time the petition was initiated

No date set by statute, but it is recommended that the petition is submitted several months in advance of the planned election date to allow review of the petition and other administrative considerations.

The petition expires one year after it has been initiated.

NCGS 18B-600, 18B-601(b), 18B-602, 163-287, 163-219

ABC (alcoholic beverage sale) election, municipal

Note: ABC elections can also be called by the governing body of the municipality

35% of the registered voters in the municipality at the time the petition was initiated

No date set by statute, but it is recommended that the petition is submitted several months in advance of the planned election date to allow review of the petition and other administrative considerations.

 

The petition expires one year after it has been initiated.

NCGS 18B-600, 18B-601(c), 18B-602, 163-287, 163-219

Bond referendum

10% of the registered voters in the issuing unit, according to the most recent data

Petition is filed with the issuing unit’s clerk, not the County Board of Elections office.

Filed within 30 days after the publication of the bond order as introduced.

The petition expires one year after it has been initiated.

NCGS 159-60, 163-287, 163-219

School tax

For question of annexing area to the administrative unit: The majority of qualified voters who have resided for the preceding 12 months in the area

For any other purpose set out in GS 115C-501, 25% of the registered voters of the administrative unit

Petition is filed with the Board of Education, not the County Board of Elections office.

No date set by statute, but it is recommended that the petition is submitted several months in advance of the planned election date to allow review of the petition and other administrative considerations.

The petition expires one year after it has been initiated.

NCGS 115C-501, 115C-502, 115C-503, 115C-504, 163-287, 163-219

Municipal charter amendment

10% of the registered voters in the municipality (according to the most recent data), or 5,000 registered voters of the municipality, whichever is fewer

Petition is filed with the municipal council, not the County Board of Elections office.

No date set by statute, but it is recommended that the petition is submitted several months in advance of the planned election date to allow review of the petition and other administrative considerations.

 

The petition expires one year after it has been initiated.

NCGS 160A-104, 163-287, 163-219

Municipal incorporation

15% of the registered voters in the area proposed to be incorporated (but not fewer than 25 registered voters)

Verified petition is submitted to the Municipal Incorporations Subcommittee of the General Assembly.

60 days prior to convening of the next regular session of the General Assembly.

 

The petition expires one year after it has been initiated.

NCGS 120-163, 163-287, 163-219

Repeal of levy

Note: Can also be called by the County Commission

A number equaling 15% of the votes cast in the county in the last election for Governor

No date set by statute, but it is recommended that the petition is submitted several months in advance of the planned election date to allow review of the petition and other administrative considerations.

The petition expires one year after it has been initiated.

NCGS 105-473, 163-287, 163-219

Sanitary District incorporation

51% of the freeholders in the area of the proposed Sanitary District (the statute does not require the freeholders are residents)

Petition is filed with the County Commission of the county where all or the majority of the proposed district is located, not the County Board of Elections office.

No date set by statute, but it is recommended that the petition is submitted several months in advance of the planned election date to allow review of the petition and other administrative considerations.

The petition expires one year after it has been initiated.

NCGS 130A-48, 163-287, 163-219

Fire District incorporation

35% of the resident freeholders in an area lying outside the corporate limits of the city or town in the area of the proposed Fire District

Petition is filed with the County Commission, not the County Board of Elections office.

No date set by statute, but it is recommended that the petition is submitted several months in advance of the planned election date to allow review of the petition and other administrative considerations.

The petition expires one year after it has been initiated.

NCGS 69-25.1, 163-287, 163-219

Other local types of petition, such as local recall (there is no recall mechanism for county or state offices)

Governed by municipal charter or local act

Governed by municipal charter or local act

Governed by municipal charter or local act

Out of the more than 550 municipalities in North Carolina, a very small number have a procedure for recall.

Click here for more information.