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:

Launch the Petition Search

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.
  2. Jurisdiction: 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:
  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 the 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.

Download the Petition Request form (fillable PDF)