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Petitions in North Carolina

Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution

A petition is a formal written request, signed by citizens affected by or having an opinion on the issue in question. In North Carolina, petitions can be used to place candidates and issues on the ballot, waive filing fees, or form state-recognized political parties.

Before beginning the petition process, familiarize yourself with the laws governing the specific type of petition you aim to conduct. Further familiarization with general provisions pertaining to all petitions in North Carolina is recommended as well. This page reviews the petition process and provides the applicable 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.

For information, and to check the status of petitions initiated locally with a county Board of Elections office, contact that elections office directly. Contact information for county Boards of Election can be found here.

To check the status of petitions initiated with the State Board of Elections office, click here.

Some petitions require signatures equal to a percentage of registered voters at the end of the year. These statistics can be found on our End-Of-Year Snapshot page.

Instuctions for Filing Petitions

  1. Familiarize yourself with the requirements of your petition. Below, you will find information regarding the due date of petitions, the number of required signatures, the required format of signature collection, and other administrative details. Learn these before beginning so that you know exactly what you need to do.
  2. Start the petition process. To begin the petition process, contact the board of election that governs your specific petition. If the petition falls under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Elections, complete a Petition Request Form and email it to petition.sboe@ncsbe.gov. If the petition falls under the jurisdiction of a county Board of Elections, contact that specific office to start the process. You can find contact information for all 100 county offices here.
  3. Collect signatures. Using the appropriate signature-collection forms (available in the sidebar), gather signatures from voters who reside in the applicable area. Forms will be submitted to the individual county Boards of Election for verification of the signatures, so make sure to use a seperate form for different counties! Remember that no one can sign a petition on behalf of someone other than themselves. Also remember signatures must be originals - no electronically made or reproduced signatures will count.
  4. Submit signatures for verification. County Boards of Election will check and certify qualified signatures, then return the originals to the petitioner. Even if your petition is statewide, the counties are responsible for certifying the signatures of their voters. Signatures may be submitted all at once, or in batches. If you choose to submit in batches, the Board will keep a running tally of your signature total. (Please note that some local petitions, such as Sanitary or Fire District petitions, do not go to the county Boards of Election. See below for further information.)
  5. Submit final documentation. Once you have obtained the required number of county-verified signatures, the petitioner should submit any remaining required documentation to the office with jurisdiction over the petition. Along with that documentation, make sure you submit the original pages of signatures as well.

Petition Information and Requirements - State Jurisdiction

Petition Type Number of Required Signatures When are petitions due to NCSBE? Governing Statutes
For a candidate's name to be placed on the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate... ...in the contest for President of the U.S. 2% of all registered N.C. voters who voted in the most recent election for N.C. Governor. 12:00 p.m., the last Friday in June of an election year*. N.C. General Statutes §163-122(a)(1) and §163-209
...in a statewide contest. 2% of all registered N.C. voters who voted in the most recent election for N.C. Governor. 12:00 p.m., the last Friday in June of an election year*. N.C. General Statute §163-122(a)(1)
...in a district (multi-county) contest. 4% of all registered N.C. voters in the district, as of January 1 of the election year. 12:00 p.m., the last Friday in June of an election year*. N.C. General Statute §163-122(a)(2)
For a candidate to qualify as a write-in candidate... ...in the contest for President of the U.S. 500 registered N.C. voters. 12:00 p.m., 90 days before the General Election*. N.C. General Statute §163-123(c)(1)
...in a statewide contest. 500 registered N.C. voters. 12:00 p.m., 90 days before the General Election*. N.C. General Statute §163-123(c)(1)
...in a district (multi-county) contest. 250 registered N.C. voters. 12:00 p.m., 90 days before the General Election*. N.C. General Statute §163-123(c)(2)
For the petition to be used by a candidate in lieu of payment of filing fee... ...in seeking nomination in a party primary for a statewide contest. 5% of the party's registered N.C. voters or 8000 registered N.C. voters of any affiliation, whichever is greater. 12:00 p.m., the Monday preceding the candidate filing deadline*. N.C. General Statute §163-107.1(b)
...in seeking nomination in a party primary for a district (multi-county) contest. 5% of the party's registered N.C. voters in the respective district, or 200 registered N.C. voters of any affiliation, whichever is greater. 12:00 p.m., the Monday preceding the candidate filing deadline*. N.C. General Statute §163-107.1(c)
...in seeking nomination in a nonpartisan primary or election for a district (multi-county) contest. 5% of the N.C. registered voters in the election area in which the office will be voted for. 12:00 p.m., the Monday preceding the candidate filing deadline*. N.C. General Statute §163-107.1(d)
...in seeking election as Supreme Court Justice or Court of Appeals Judge. 8,000 registered N.C. voters in the state or applicable district. 12:00 p.m., the Monday preceding the candidate filing deadline*. N.C. General Statute §163-325
...in seeking election as Superior Court Judge or District Court Judge. 5% of registered N.C. voters in the respective judicial district. 12:00 p.m., the Monday preceding the candidate filing deadline*. N.C. General Statute §163-325
For a candidate to seek the endoresement by the national political party for the office of President of the United States. 10,000 registered N.C. voters belong to the same political party as the candidate for whom the petition is filed. 5:00 p.m., the Monday preceding the State Board's meeting to nominate presidential candidates**. N.C. General Statute §163-213.5
For recognition as a political party under the election laws of North Carolina. 2% of all registered N.C. voters who voted in the most recent election for N.C. Governor. 12:00 p.m., June 1, of the year of the election that the party wishes to participate in*. N.C. General Statute §163-96(b)

* In order for the county Boards of Election to have enough time to properly review signatures, petitions must be submitted to the counties for verification no later than 15 days before they are due to the State Board of Election.

** In order for the county Boards of Election to have enough time to properly review signatures, petitions must be submitted to the counties for verification no later than 10 days before they are due to the State Board of Election.

Petition Information and Requirements - County & Local Jurisdiction

Petition Type Number of Required Signatures When are petitions due? Governing Statutes
For a candidate's name to be placed on the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate... ...in a county contest or single-county district contest. 4% of all registered N.C. voters within the county or district. 12:00 p.m., the last Friday in June of an election year. N.C. General Statute §163-122(a)(3)
...in a municipal contest. 4% of all registered N.C. voters within the municipality. 12:00 p.m., the Friday preceding the 7th Saturday before the election. N.C. General Statute §163-122(a)(4)
For a candidate to qualify as a write-in candidate for a county office, school administrative office, or single-county district office.

If the area contains 5,000 or more registered N.C. voters, then 100 registered N.C. voters from that area.

If the area contains fewer than 5,000 registered N.C. voters, then 1% of registered N.C. voters from that area.

12:00 p.m., 90 days before the General Election. N.C. General Statute §163-123(c)(3)
For the petition to be used by a candidate in lieu of payment of filing fee... ...in seeking nomination in a party primary for a county, municipal, or single-county district contest. 5% of the party's registered N.C. voters in the respective area, or 200 registered N.C. voters of any affiliation, whichever is greater. 12:00 p.m., the Monday preceding the candidate filing deadline. N.C. General Statute §163-107.1(c)
...in seeking election for a county, municipal, or single-county district contest. 5% of registered N.C. voters in the respective area. 12:00 p.m., the Monday preceding the candidate filing deadline. N.C. General Statute §163-107.1(d)
For a county or municipality to conduct an alcoholic beverage (ABC) election. 35% of registered N.C. voters in the county or municipality in which the election is called. 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. N.C. General Statutes §18B-600 & §18B-601
For a county or municipality to conduct an election on a bond order. 10% of registered N.C. voters in the county or municipality in which the election is called. Must be filed with the issuing unit's clerk within 30 days after the publication of the bond order. N.C. General Statute §159-60
For an election on a taxation issue relating to the public school system, as deliniated in N.C. General Statute §115C-501.

On questions of annexing areas to the city administrative unit: a majority (50%+1) of registered N.C. voters in the area in which the election is called.

On all other issues enumerated in N.C. General Statute §115C-501: 25% of registered N.C. voters in the area in which the election is called.

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. N.C. General Statutes §115C-501 to §115C-505
For an election on an amendment to a municipal charter. 10% of the registered N.C. voters in the municipality or 5,000 registered N.C. voters, whichever is fewer. 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. N.C. General Statute §160A-104
For an election on municipal incorporation. 15% of the registered N.C. voters in the proposed area or 25 registered N.C. voters, whichever is greater. Must be submitted to the Municipal Incorporations Subcommittee of the N.C. General Assembly 60 days prior to convening of the next regular session of the General Assembly. N.C. General Statute §120-163
For municipal annexation. All real property owners in the area proposed to be annexed. No election associated with this process. Submit petition to the governing board of the municipality. N.C. General Statute §160A-31
For a special election to determine if a levy should be repealed. 15% of all registered N.C. voters who voted in the most recent election for N.C. 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. N.C. General Statute §105-473
For the incorporation of a sanitary district. 51% of the freeholders in the area of the proposed district. 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. Petition should be filed with the County Commission of the county where the majority of the proposed district resides. N.C. General Statute §130A-48
For a special election regarding the incorporation of a fire district. 35% of the freeholders in the area of the proposed district. 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. Petition should be filed with the County Commission. N.C. General Statute §69-25.1
For a special election regarding the abolition of a fire district. 15% of the freeholders in the area of the proposed district. 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. Petition should be filed with the County Commission. N.C. General Statute §69-25.10
All other types of local petitions. Governed by municipal charter or local act. Contact your city or county government to learn more. Governed by municipal charter or local act. Contact your city or county government to learn more. Click here for information on special forms of local elections, such as initiatives, referendums, and recalls.