Candidate Guide to Ballot Access

Brown Bag Training

The Board's Voter Services staff conducts training sessions for candidates, proponents of ballot measures, and petition circulators. The training sessions provide an overview of the Board’s guidelines and policies for circulating nominating and ballot measure petitions. The training sessions are held every other Tuesday at 12:15 p.m. All petition circulators are encouraged to attend. For a list of upcoming training sessions, see the Events section of the Board's Newsroom.

Legal Qualifications for Office

The qualifications detailed in this section are those necessary to hold the various public offices which will appear on the ballot in the District of Columbia during the year 2014. Qualifications for office are distinct from the requirements for gaining ballot access.

Delegate to the United States House of Representatives

The Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives is a non-voting member of the United States House of Representatives who is elected from the District of Columbia. While unable to vote in the full House, the Delegate may vote in the Committee of the Whole and other committees of which the Delegate is a member. To hold the office of Delegate, an individual must meet the following qualifications on the date of the general or special election (D.C. Official Code § 1-401):

  • Be a qualified elector in the District1
  • Be at least 25 years of age
  • Hold no other paid public office2
  • Have resided in the District of Columbia continuously since the beginning of the three-year period ending on the date of the general or special election

Mayor of the District of Columbia

The Mayor of the District of Columbia is the chief executive officer of the District in whom the District’s executive power is vested. To hold the office of Mayor of the District of Columbia, an individual must meet the following qualifications (D.C. Official Code § 1-204.21):

  • Be a qualified elector in the District
  • Not be engaged in any other employment and hold no other public office or position for which he is compensated in an amount in excess of his actual expenses
  • Have resided and been domiciled in the District of Columbia for one year preceding the general or special election
  • Have not been convicted of a felony while holding the office of Mayor

Chairman of the Council

The Chairman of the Council of the District of Columbia is the presiding and chief executive officer of the Council and is a voting member of all standing committees. The Chairman is elected at large to a four-year term of office. To hold the office of Chairman of the Council, an individual must meet the following qualifications (D.C. Official Code §§ 1-204.02 and 1-204.03):

  • Be a qualified elector in the District
  • Hold no other employment or public office for which he is compensated in an amount in excess of his actual expenses
  • Have resided and been domiciled in the District of Columbia for one year preceding the general or special election
  • Have not been convicted of a felony while holding the office of Member of the Council

At-Large Member of the Council

Two at-large members of the Council of the District of Columbia are elected to a four-year term every two years. The Council enacts laws, approves the annual operating budget, and establishes and oversees the programs and operations of all District government agencies. To hold the office of At-Large Member of the Council, an individual must meet the following qualifications (D.C. Official Code § 1-204.02):

  • Be a qualified elector in the District
  • Hold no other public office for which he is compensated in an amount in excess of his actual expenses
  • Have resided and been domiciled in the District of Columbia for one year preceding the general or special election
  • Have not been convicted of a felony while holding the office of Member of the Council

Ward Member of the Council

One member of the Council of the District of Columbia is elected from each of the District’s eight wards. Members of the Council hold staggered four-year terms and representatives from Wards 1, 3, 5 and 6 are on the ballot in 2014. The Council enacts laws, approves the annual operating budget, and establishes and oversees the programs and operations of all District government agencies. To hold the office of Ward Member of the Council, an individual must meet the following qualifications (D.C. Official Code § 1-204.02):

  • Be a qualified elector in the District
  • Hold no other public office for which he is compensated in an amount in excess of his actual expenses
  • Have resided and been domiciled in the District of Columbia for one year preceding the general or special election
  • Reside in the ward from which nominated
  • Have not been convicted of a felony while holding the office of Member of the Council

Attorney General for the District of Columbia3

The elected office of Attorney General for the District of Columbia was created through "The Elected Attorney General Charter Amendment" that was passed by the Council and approved by the voters at the November 2010 General Election. The Attorney General shall have charge and conduct of all law business of the District of Columbia. An individual elected to the partisan office shall serve a 4-year term to coincide with the term of the office of Mayor. To hold the office of the Attorney General, an individual must meet the following qualifications (D.C. Official Code §1-301.83):

  • Is a registered qualified elector
  • Is a bona fide resident of the District of Columbia
  • Is a member in good standing of the bar of the District of Columbia
  • Has been a member in good standing of the bar of the District of Columbia for at least 5 years prior to assuming the position of Attorney General;
  • Has been actively engaged, for at least 5 of the 10 years immediately preceding the assumption of the position of Attorney General, as:
    • An attorney in the practice of law in the District of Columbia
    • A judge of a court in the District of Columbia
    • A professor of law in a law school in the District of Columbia; or
    • An attorney employed in the District of Columbia by the United States or the District of Columbia;
  • Shall not engage in the private practice of law while holding the office of Attorney General
  • Have not been convicted of a felony while holding the office of Attorney General

United States "Shadow" Senator

The position of United States Representative or "Shadow Representative" was created by the 1982 Constitution of the State of New Columbia with the intention that the officeholder would become United States Representative upon the ratification of the District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment of 1978. The duties of the office are: to inform Congress that D.C. residents meet the traditional standards for achieving statehood; to monitor the process of the District's petition to gain statehood; and to advise the District of Columbia on public policy matters that bear on achieving statehood. To hold the office of United States Senator, an individual must meet the following qualifications, as defined in the United States Constitution (Article I, Section 3):

  • Be at least 30 years of age
  • Have been a citizen of the United States for at least nine (9) years
  • Be a resident of the District of Columbia on the date of the general or special election

United States "Shadow" Representative

The position of United States Representative or "Shadow Representative" was created by the 1982 Constitution of the State of New Columbia with the intention that the officeholder would become United States Representative upon the ratification of the District of Columbia Voting Rights Amendment of 1978. The duties of the office are: to inform Congress that D.C. residents meet the traditional standards for achieving statehood; to monitor the process of the District's petition to gain statehood; and to advise the District of Columbia on public policy matters that bear on achieving statehood. To hold the office of United States Representative, an individual must meet the following qualifications, as defined in the United States Constitution (Article I, Section 2):

  • Be at least 25 years of age
  • Have been a citizen of the United States for at least seven (7)years
  • Be a resident of the District of Columbia on the date of the general or special election

Ward Member of the State Board of Education

Members of the State Board of Education advise the State Superintendent of Education on educational matters including state standards, state policies (including those governing special, academic, vocational, charter and other schools), state objectives, state regulations proposed by the Mayor or the State Superintendent of Education, and other matters. To hold the office of Ward Member of the State Board of Education, an individual must meet the following qualifications (D.C. Official Code § 38-2561):

  • Be a qualified elector in the ward from which he or she seeks election;
  • Have resided in the ward from which he or she is nominated for one year immediately preceding the election
  • Hold no other elective office, except delegate or alternate delegate to a political party nominating convention, nor be an officer or employee of the District of Columbia Government or the State Board of Education upon taking office

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners advise the District government on matters of public policy including decisions regarding planning, streets, recreation, social services programs, health, safety, and sanitation in their respective neighborhood commission areas. To hold the office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner from a Single-Member District, an individual must meet the following qualifications (D.C. Official Code § 1-309.05):

  • Be a registered qualified elector in the District residing in the Single-Member District from which he or she is elected
  • Have resided in the Single-Member District continuously for the 60-day period immediately preceding the day on which the nominating petition is filed
  • Hold no other elected public office

Obtaining Ballot Access

Nominating Petition Signature Requirements

Offices scheduled to appear on the ballot at the April 1, 2014 Primary Election and the November 4, 2014 General Election, along with the nominating petition signature requirements, are listed below. Each petition signer must be a registered voter at the time of signing the nominating petition.

Office Minimum Signatures Needed
(Primary Election)
Minimum Signatures Needed
(General Election)
Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives 2,000 or 1% (whichever is less) of duly registered voters in the same party as the candidate 3,000 or 1.5% (whichever is less) of duly registered voters
Mayor of the District of Columbia 2,000 or 1% (whichever is less) of duly registered voters in the same party as the candidate 3,000 or 1.5% (whichever is less) of duly registered voters
Chairman of the Council 2,000 or 1% (whichever is less) of duly registered voters in the same party as the candidate
3,000 or 1.5% (whichever is less) of duly registered voters
At-Large Member of the D.C. Council 2,000 signatures or 1% (whichever is less) of duly registered voters in the same party as the candidate 3,000 signatures or 1.5% (whichever is less) of duly registered voters
Ward Member of the D.C. Council (Wards 1, 3, 5 & 6) 250 signatures or 1% (whichever is less) of duly registered voters in the same party and residing the same ward as the candidate 500 signatures of duly registered voters who reside in the same ward as the candidate
Attorney General for the District of Columbia4 2,000 or 1% (whichever is less) of duly registered voters in the same party as the candidate 3,000 signatures or 1.5% (whichever is less) of duly registered voters
United States "Shadow" Senator 2,000 or 1% (whichever is less) of duly registered voters in the same party as the candidate 3,000 signatures or 1.5% (whichever is less) of duly registered voters
United States "Shadow" Representative 2,000 or 1% (whichever is less) of duly registered voters in the same party as the candidate 3,000 signatures or 1.5% (whichever is less) of duly registered voters
Ward Member of the State Board of Education (Wards 1, 3, 5 & 6) 200 signatures of duly registered voters who reside in the same ward as the candidate
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner 25 signatures of duly registered voters who reside in the same Single-Member District as the candidate

Authorization to Release Candidate's Nominating Petition

Prior to picking up nominating petitions, all candidates are encouraged to verify that their voter registration is current. Nominating petition sheets can be obtained from the Board, in person, beginning 144 days before the election (November 8, 2013 for the Primary Election, and June 13, 2014 for the General Election). Either the candidate or a representative of the candidate may pick up the petition; however, written authorization must be made by the candidate designating a representative to obtain petition sheets in the candidate’s name. Authorization may be a letter or the candidate may complete an Authorization to Release Nominating Petition form.

A valid authorization letter must include the following information:

  • The name of the candidate
  • The title of the elective office which the candidate seeks
  • The agent's name and phone number
  • The candidate's name as it should appear on the nominating petition
  • Information for the candidate listing publication to include:
    • Contact person
    • Address
    • Daytime phone number
    • Email address
  • Signature of the candidate and the date

Declaration of Candidacy

An accompanying Declaration of Candidacy, signed and notarized, must be filed with the Board not later than the deadline for filing the nominating petition (January 2, 2014).

Office of Campaign Finance

Candidates are required to file the required documents with the Office of Campaign Finance (OCF) within five (5) days of picking up the nominating petition. For specific requirements, please contact OCF at 202-671-0550 or visit its website at www.ocf.dc.gov.

Candidates and Petition Signers for the Primary Election

A potential candidate who is registered as affiliated with the Democratic, Republican, D.C. Statehood Green or Libertarian Party must seek the nomination of his or her party in the primary election. Signers of the nominating petition must be registered to vote in the same party as the candidate on the date of signing the petition. Winners of the respective party primaries will advance to the General Election ballot.

New Political Parties in the November 4, 2014 General Election

A political group wishing to form a new political party in the District of Columbia must file a form with the Board of Elections and register with OCF prior to approval of the party name by the Board. Nominating petitions may not be released until the Board has approved the new party name. It is suggested that the application for party name approval be submitted no later than May 1, 2014 in order to have the party approved by the Board in time to circulate the nominating petition for the General Election.

The Petition Circulator

At the time of circulation, nominating petition circulators must be at least 18 years of age and either a District resident or registered as a non-resident petition circulator with the BOE. Non-resident circulators must register in-person at the BOE office and present proof of residence. Acceptable forms of proof of residence include:

  • A copy of a current and valid government-issued photo identification;
  • A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck;
  • A copy of a government-issued document; or
  • A copy of any other official document, including leases or residential rental agreements, occupancy statements from homeless shelters, or tuition or housing bills from colleges or universities.

The circulator must complete, sign and date the required affidavit on the back of each nominating petition sheet. The Board may reject any signatures that appear on a petition sheet with an incomplete affidavit.

The Petition Challenge Period

Nominating petitions will be posted in the Board’s office for a ten-day challenge period during which any registered District voter may challenge the validity of any petition by a written statement signed by the challenger and filed with the Board. The statement must specify concisely the alleged defect(s) in the petition.

The Ballot Lottery

A public drawing will be held to determine the order of the candidates’ names on the ballot. The lotteries for ballot positions are tentatively scheduled for February 7, 2014 for the Primary Election and September 12, 2014 for the General Election. Candidates who have qualified for ballot access will be notified by letter of the lottery date and given the opportunity to confirm the spelling of their name for the ballot.

Candidate Withdrawals

Candidates may withdraw by filing a notarized affidavit with the Board irrevocably withdrawing their candidacy for the office to which they have been nominated. If the affidavit is filed later than noon on the date of the ballot lottery, the name of the candidate may not be excluded from the ballot; however, the Board will place notices at the affected precinct(s) advising the voters of the candidate’s withdrawal.

Write-In Candidacy

In lieu of circulating nominating petitions to obtain ballot access, write-in candidacy is permitted during both the primary and general elections. If victory by a write-in candidate is apparent, the write-in candidate must complete an Affirmation of Write-In Candidacy form at the Board’s office on or before:

  • April 4, 2014 for the Primary Election
  • November 12, 2014 for the General Election

Poll Watchers and Election Observers

Any person wishing to observe the administration of the election at the polling place or at the Board’s Counting Center on Election Day may petition the Board for credentials as an election observer or poll watcher. Petitions for credentials should be submitted to the Board at least 2 weeks before Election Day.

The information in this online guide is subject to change. For the latest information, see the Newsroom or follow us on Twitter or Facebook. In the event of a conflict with information contained in this guide, in the Official Calendar, or on our web site, the laws and the regulations of the District of Columbia will apply.

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1 Qualified Elector means a citizen of the United States who is at least 17 years of age and who will be 18 years of age on or before the next general election; is a citizen of the United States; has maintained a residence in the District for at least 30 days preceding the next election and does not claim voting residence or the right to vote in any state or territory; is not incarcerated for a crime that is a felony in the District; and has not been found by a court of law to be legally incompetent to vote [D.C. Official Code § 1-1001.02 (2)].
2 A person holding the office of Mayor, Delegate, Chairman or member of the Council, or member of the Board of Education shall, while holding such office, be eligible as a candidate for any other of such offices in any primary or general election. [D.C. Official Code § 1-1001.15 (b).]
3 The office of Attorney General is tentatively included in the list of offices to be elected in 2014, pending the Mayor’s review of Bill 20-134, "Elected Attorney General Implementation and Legal Service Establishment Act of 2013."
4 Id.

DC Board of Elections
441 4th Street, NW, Suite 250 North
Washington, DC 20001
Tel: (202) 727-2525 | TTY: (202) 639-8916 | Tollfree: 1-866-DC-VOTES
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  • General Election: 11/4/2014
  • Primary Election: 4/1/2014

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