Checklist for Getting on the Ballot

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  • Be certain you are a registered voter in the district from which you plan to run and are registered in the Pirate political designation. You can find the areas in your district by consulting the Secretary of State's District Layout page (
  • Review the election calendar and requirements in the Candidate's Guide to the 2014 State Election ( Be certain you fulfill the requirements for the office for which you are running.
  • Be aware of the deadlines for nomination papers:
    • Submission to cities and towns for verification:
      • State & County District Offices - April 29
      • Federal Offices - July 29
    • Submission to State Elections Division in Boston:
      • State & County District Offices - May 27
      • Federal Offices - August 26

Nomination Papers

  • Obtain yellow nomination papers to run as a non-party candidate in the election.
  • Nomination papers are available from the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth in Boston (One Ashburton Place, Rm. 1705), Fall River and Springfield and may be picked up or requested by telephone or mail. You can reach the Elections Division in Boston at 1-800-462-VOTE (8683).
  • Candidates may also make exact copies of the official nomination papers for gathering signatures.
  • Fill in the top portion of nomination papers carefully with name and address (including street name and number and city or town), office, district, political designation, etc., BEFORE you circulate the papers.
  • Any nomination paper filed without this information will not be counted (gray areas on nomination papers).
  • Be sure to sign the written acceptance line on a number of your nomination papers.
  • Do not miss the deadline date for Submitting nomination papers to local election officials for certification. Try to get papers to local local election Officials on earlier than the deadline if possible.

How many signatures do you need?

  • Each candidate needs to obtain at least the following number of nomination signatures from valid voters:
    • State Representative - 150
    • State Senate - 300
    • Governor's Council - 1000
    • District Attorney - 1000
    • All County offices - 1000
    • US Representative - 2000
  • You should plan to submit *at least twice* the required number of signatures to your local election officials for certification. If too many signatures are challenged or disallowed, you will fall short of the required number. Be sure the signatures are from the proper district and party, with the name and address Properly filled in.

Tips for Signature Gathering

  • As a Pirate candidate, any voter may sign your nomination paper.
  • Get signatures from ONE city or town ONLY on each nomination paper. Make certain that signers can vote for the candidate. Signatures from another city or town or across district lines will not be counted. District boundaries may be checked on the list of districts available from the Secretary of the Commonwealth. That said, this isn't the SAT. Invalid signatures do not count against you, they just won't be counted for you. If in doubt as to whether a voter is in your district, the worst that can happen is their signature isn't validated.
  • All signatures must be legible and written substantially as registered. If the signature is not legible, ask the voter to print their name next to heir signature.
  • The law allows a voter to insert or omit a middle name or initial and still have the signature deemed valid. Do not use nicknames or initials in place of full names. Married women should sign “Helen Smith” not “Mrs. John Smith.”
  • It is wise to have a list of registered voters or a street listing with you to verify the exact form of registration. City and town clerks are required by law to make one copy of these available free to candidates. The law provides, that if the local election officials can determine the identity of the voter from the form of the signature, the signature must be certified.
  • Nominating petitions require the voter’s present address. Signers must use street addresses, not mailing addresses such as post office box numbers.
  • If a voter signs incorrectly or makes any error, do not erase or make changes. Leave the incorrect line intact and ask the voter to sign again on the next line. An altered or illegible signature may be disallowed or challenged.
  • NEVER place a check mark or other stray mark on a nomination paper. If someone does so whether accidentally or intentionally, put the paper on the bottom of your stack of papers and stop using it. Nomination papers with a stray mark can be challenged and if successfully challenged, the entire paper and all of its valid signatures may be thrown out.

Keeping Track of Signature Gathering

  • Remember that the objective is to gather signatures from registered voters in your district as quickly as possible. If you do not have enough valid signatures by the time you need to submit them to cities and towns for validation, then you will not get on the ballot. Focus your efforts on this objective, keep track of your progress on a weekly basis and you will succeed.
  • Always be polite when gathering signatures, but do remember that your campaign's objective is to gather those signatures. If someone wants to talk with your about your issues for too long, politely hand them a business card or campaign flier with your contact info and invite them to talk with you about their issues at a later time.
  • You should get in the habit of dropping off your nomination papers at their respective city or town on a weekly basis. This gives the elections division or town clerk time to validate the signatures and gets them back to you sooner so you can keep track of the number of valid signatures you have collected.
  • When dropping off your nomination papers, be sure to get a receipt as to the number of nomination papers you have dropped off. Present the receipt when collecting the validated nomination papers. If you lose the receipt, the candidate should be able to show up with proper id and collect them. Alternatively, election divisions and town clerks generally accept a signed letter on some form of letterhead that authorizes the bearer to pick up the nomination papers.
  • If you have fewer than 10% above the number of signatures required for the office you seek, you may consider requesting a review by local election officials of the number of certified signatures you have.

Submitting Nomination Papers for Certification

  • Pick up the certified papers from the local election officials and do not miss the deadline for filing with the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
  • You must file the following items:
    • At least required number of valid voter signatures (see above)
    • Be sure to file at least two nomination papers with your certificate of enrollment or certificate of voter registration signed by at least three of your local election officials. Just tell your Town Clerk or Elections Division how many you want when you drop off your nomination papers to be verified.
    • Be sure to sign the written acceptance line of several of your nomination papers.
    • If you are a candidate for a state or county office, be sure to file the receipt for the submission of your Statement of Financial Interests. You can file your Statement of Financial Interests by visiting the State Ethics Commission's website. More details are at though the actual form is at