163-122. Unaffiliated candidates nominated by petition.

(a) Procedure for Having Name Printed on Ballot as Unaffiliated Candidate. - Any qualified voter who seeks to have his name printed on the general election ballot as an unaffiliated candidate shall:

(1) If the office is a statewide office, file written petitions with the State Board of Elections supporting his candidacy for a specified office. These petitions must be filed with the State Board of Elections on or before 12:00 noon on the last Friday in June preceding the general election and must be signed by qualified voters of the State equal in number to two percent (2%) of the total number of voters who voted in the most recent general election for Governor. Also, the petition must be signed by at least 200 registered voters from each of four congressional districts in North Carolina. No later than 5:00 p.m. on the fifteenth day preceding the date the petitions are due to be filed with the State Board of Elections, each petition shall be presented to the chairman of the board of elections of the county in which the signatures were obtained. Provided the petitions are timely submitted, the chairman shall examine the names on the petition and place a check mark on the petition by the name of each signer who is qualified and registered to vote in his county and shall attach to the petition his signed certificate. Said certificates shall state that the signatures on the petition have been checked against the registration records and shall indicate the number of signers to be qualified and registered to vote in his county. The chairman shall return each petition, together with the certificate required in this section, to the person who presented it to him for checking. Verification by the chairman of the county board of elections shall be completed within two weeks from the date such petitions are presented.

(2) If the office is a district office under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Elections under G.S. 163-182.4(b), file written petitions with the State Board of Elections supporting that voter's candidacy for a specified office. These petitions must be filed with the State Board of Elections on or before 12:00 noon on the last Friday in June preceding the general election and must be signed by qualified voters of the district equal in number to four percent (4%) of the total number of registered voters in the district as reflected by the voter registration records of the State Board of Elections as of January 1 of the year in which the general election is to be held. Each petition shall be presented to the chairman of the board of elections of the county in which the signatures were obtained. The chairman shall examine the names on the petition and the procedure for certification and deadline for submission to the county board shall be the same as specified in (1) above.

(3) If the office is a county office or a single county legislative district, file written petitions with the chairman or director of the county board of elections supporting his candidacy for a specified county office. These petitions must be filed with the county board of elections on or before 12:00 noon on the last Friday in June preceding the general election and must be signed by qualified voters of the county equal in number to four percent (4%) of the total number of registered voters in the county as reflected by the voter registration records of the State Board of Elections as of January 1 of the year in which the general election is to be held, except if the office is for a district consisting of less than the entire county and only the voters in that district vote for that office, the petitions must be signed by qualified voters of the district equal in number to four percent (4%) of the total number of voters in the district according to the voter registration records of the State Board of Elections as of January 1 of the year in which the general election is to be held. Each petition shall be presented to the chairman or director of the county board of elections. The chairman shall examine, or cause to be examined, the names on the petition and the procedure for certification shall be the same as specified in (1) above.

(4) If the office is a partisan municipal office, file written petitions with the chairman or director of the county board of elections in the county wherein the municipality is located supporting his candidacy for a specified municipal office. These petitions must be filed with the county board of elections on or before the time and date specified in G.S. 163-296 and must be signed by the number of qualified voters specified in G.S. 163-296. The procedure for certification shall be the same as specified in (1) above.

Upon compliance with the provisions of (1), (2), (3), or (4) of this subsection, the board of elections with which the petitions have been timely filed shall cause the unaffiliated candidate's name to be printed on the general election ballots in accordance with Article 14A of this Chapter.

An individual whose name appeared on the ballot in a primary election preliminary to the general election shall not be eligible to have his name placed on the general election ballot as an unaffiliated candidate for the same office in that year.

(b) Form of Petition. - Petitions requesting an unaffiliated candidate to be placed on the general election ballot shall contain on the heading of each page of the petition in bold print or in all capital letters the words: "THE UNDERSIGNED REGISTERED VOTERS IN __________ COUNTY HEREBY PETITION ON BEHALF OF __________ AS AN UNAFFILIATED CANDIDATE FOR THE OFFICE OF __________ IN THE NEXT GENERAL ELECTION. THE UNDERSIGNED HEREBY PETITION THAT SUBJECT CANDIDATE BE PLACED ON THE APPROPRIATE BALLOT UPON COMPLIANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS CONTAINED IN G.S. 163-122."

(c) This section does not apply to elections under Article 25 of this Chapter.

(d) When any person files a petition with a board of elections under this section, the board of elections shall, immediately upon receipt of the petition, inspect the registration records of the county and cancel the petition of any person who does not meet the constitutional or statutory qualifications for the office, including residency.

The board shall give notice of cancellation to any person whose petition has been cancelled under this subsection by mail or by having the notice served on that person by the sheriff and to any other candidate filing for the same office. A person whose petition has been cancelled or another candidate for the same office affected by a substantiation under this subsection may request a hearing on the issue of constitutional or statutory qualifications for the office. If the person requests a hearing, the hearing shall be conducted in accordance with Article 11B of Chapter 163 of the General Statutes.

(e) Any candidate seeking to have that candidate's name printed on the general election ballot under this section shall pay a filing fee equal to that provided for candidates for the office in G.S. 163-107 or comply with the alternative available to candidates for the office in G.S. 163-107.1. (1929, c. 164, s. 6; 1931, c. 223; 1935, c. 236; 1967, c. 775, s. 1; 1973, c. 793, s. 50; 1977, c. 408, s. 3; 1979, c. 23, ss. 1, 3; c. 534, s. 2; 1981, c. 637; 1991, c. 297, s. 1; 1995, c. 243, s. 1; 1996, 2nd Ex. Sess., c. 9, s. 14; 1999-424, s. 5(b); 2002-159, s. 21(b); 2004-127, s. 8(a); 2006-155, s. 3; 2006-234, ss. 4, 5; 2007-391, s. 8(a); 2007-484, s. 21; 2008-187, s. 33(a).)