Non-Party Affiliated Candidates
Only recognized parties in West Virginia may nominate candidates for the General Election in the Primary Election or by convention. Citizens who want to run independently or under the banner of a minor party must petition the voters within the state by gathering signatures to get on the General Election ballot. The petition process assures that a candidate or party has support among the voters before being placed on the ballot. WV Code prohibits anyone who was a candidate on the primary ballot from collecting petition signatures to be a candidate on the general election ballot.
West Virginia Code §3-5-23 and §3-5-24
Rules for Collecting Nominating Petitions
Your first step
Before you start collecting signatures, you must obtain official credentials from the county clerk (for statewide elections) or town or city recorder (for municipal elections) - these credentials will authorize you to collect signatures from voters registered in that jurisdiction. You must show your credentials to each voter you canvass.
What forms should I use?
You may only collect petition signatures on forms provided by the Secretary of State. A completed version of the petition heading should be submitted to the Secretary of State for approval before any petitions are circulated. All copies of the petition form should be reproduced in identical format. You may find all the forms necessary for collecting signatures on our Candidate Filing Forms page under the heading "Petitions and Waivers."
Who can collect signatures?
In 2002, the legislature adopted a law that no longer requires those collecting signatures to be residents of West Virginia.
Collecting signatures for more than one candidate
A group of citizens petitioning under the name of a minor party may list multiple candidates on the same petition - a valid signature will be counted for each candidate listed, as long as the voter signing resides in the division where the candidate is seeking nomination.
Collecting signatures in multiple counties
You must use separate petition pages for each county in which you collect signatures, and the county name should be entered on the petition. This allows the completed petitions to be returned to the proper county for verification.
How many signatures do I need for my name to be on the General Election ballot?
The completed petitions must contain valid signatures of at least one percent of the entire amount of votes cast for the specific office in the previous election for that office; but cannot be less than twenty-five.
Where do I file my nominating petitions and certificate of announcement?
Secretary of State: candidates for Federal offices, State Senate and House of Delegates, all judicial offices except magistrate, and those running for an office in more than one county.
County Clerk: candidates for an office which is entirely within one county.
Municipal Recorder: candidates for a municipal office.
Deadline for filing signatures
The completed petitions and certificate of announcement must be filed no later than August 1 preceding the General Election.
Visit the 2016 Offices on the Ballot
page for filing fees.
The county clerks will verify the number of valid signatures you collect within their counties.