Information on Nominating Petitions

General Information Regarding Nominating Petitions Persons wishing to run for elective office may either be designated by a political Party or nominated through the filing of an Independent Nominating Petition. Party members may also circulate petitions to create an opportunity to write in the name of an unspecified person for an office in which there is no contest for a Party endorsement. The current official political Parties are the Democratic, Republican, Independence, Conservative, and Working Families Parties. The requirements for all petitions are contained in the Election Law and are summarized below.

Format of Nominating Petition – The statute requires that all petitions be substantially in the form set forth in the law. Deviations or slight rearrangements of the form of petition are not fatal defects, provided that the petition contains all of the required information.

  • Date of the election
  • Name of the candidate and the office or position sought
  • Candidate’s residence, and if different, their mailing or post office address
  • Information about the signer – date of signing, voter’s residence address, town or city
  • Information relating to the person who witnessed the signatures
  • Petition may include a committee on vacancies. Failure to provide such a committee, or naming a committee of fewer than three persons, will not invalidate the petition
  • The pages of a petition must be sequentially numbered and securely fastened
  • Petitions of 10 or more pages must have a cover sheet.

The voter need only sign the appropriate line on the petition sheet. All other information may be filled in by someone else. Corrections may be made to any information on the signature line. However, corrections or alterations in the date or the signature MUST be initialed by the person making the correction.

Voters may not sign a petition for more candidates than there are openings for an office. For example, if there is one council seat open, then the voter may only sign one petition for a candidate for that office. If there are 2 seats open, the voter may sign petitions for 2 candidates.

Witnesses to a Petition – Any registered voter residing within the state may circulate and witness a petition of the Party in which he or she is enrolled. The information required for the witness statement is mandatory. Omissions, errors, or unexplained alterations/corrections, may invalidate the entire page. When the witness signs the statement of witness, they are making an oath that subjects them to the penalties for perjury if any of the information preceding their signature is false.

The information preceding the signature includes the name and residence of the witness, the number of signatures on the page, a statement that each person signed in their presence, and the date they are signing the statement. Witness identification information which follows the witness’s signature may be provided by anyone at any time before the petition is filed. This information includes the town or city and the county of the witness’s registration.

A Notary Public may circulate and witness a petition in any jurisdiction in which he or she is authorized to administer an oath. The Notary Public must execute a separate statement in lieu of the statement of witness.

Cover Sheets – If there are 10 or more pages in a petition, there must be a cover sheet. Multi-volume petitions requires a cover sheet for each volume. Cover sheets must contain the following information:

  • Name, residence address, and mailing address if different, of the candidate
  • The public office or Party position sought
  • The name of the Party or independent body making the nomination
  • A statement that the petition contains a number of signatures equal to or in excess of the number required by statute
  • (Optional) The name, residence address, (and mailing address if different) telephone number, and facsimile number of the person designated to receive notice of deficiencies in binding or cover sheet requirements

Types of Petitions w/ Examples

  • Designating Petitions – If a Party nominates its candidates through the primary election process, Party designations for the primary are made on a designating petition. The number of signatures required on a petition vary by office. Only enrolled members of the Party qualified to vote for an office are eligible to sign a designating petition.
  • Independent Nominating Petition – To run for office on a line other than an official Party line, one must file an independent nominating petition. The number of signatures required to qualify the candidacy of a person on an independent Party line varies by office. Any registered voter who has not already signed a designating petition, and who is qualified to vote for an office, may sign an independent nominating petition for that office.
  • Opportunity To Ballot Petition – To create the opportunity to write in the name of an unspecified person for an office in which there is no contest for the Party endorsement, Party members may circulate an opportunity to ballot petition. The number of signatures required to create an opportunity to ballot is equal to the number of signatures required to designate the Party’s candidate for that office.
  • Certificate of Acceptance – Candidates must file a certificate of acceptance (within a specific time frame) for nominations made by independent nominating petitions, or for designations of persons not enrolled as a member of that Party.
  • Certificate of Declination – A certificate of declination must be filed (within a specific time frame) should the candidate decide not to accept the designation or nomination.
  • Certificate of Substitution – Should a vacancy in a designation or nomination exsist due to the declination, disqualification or death of a candidate a certificate of substitution may be filed.
  • Certificate of Authorization – A certificate of authorization is required when political parties nominate a candidate who is not an enrolled member of that Party. The certificate of authorization must be signed and acknowledged by the presiding officer and the secretary of the meeting at which such authorization is given.