In every state, at least some candidates are required to collect petition signatures in order to appear on the ballot. Campaigns usually must collect wet signatures, or those made with pen and paper.
At least three voting jurisdictions allowed candidates to gather nominating petition signatures electronically as of 2020:
• Arizona voters may sign candidate nominating petitions from home or anywhere with internet access using the E-Qual platform.
• Washington, D.C. and Denver, Colorado allow petition circulators to use mobile devices on which they can collect digitized signatures in person through the eSign app.
In addition, New Jersey made a temporary change in response to the coronavirus pandemic allowing primary and general election candidates in 2020 to gather nominating petition signatures electronically.
Details on each voting jurisdiction’s petition signature rules are below.
• Arizona: In 2012, Arizona implemented the E-Qual electronic nominating petition-signing platform. As of 2020, the platform was available for use by federal, statewide, and state legislative candidates.
• New Jersey (COVID-19 response): In response to the coronavirus pandemic, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) issued two executive orders allowing primary and general election candidates to gather signatures electronically through a form created by the secretary of state.
• Denver, Colorado: In 2015, Denver introduced eSign, a petition-signing application used for candidate nominating petitions. The city stated that this was the first electronic petition app of its kind in the nation. Petition circulators use the app on a mobile device, which voters sign using a stylus or other marking device.
• Washington, D.C.: As part of the Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Support Act of 2016, the Council of the District of Columbia amended the district’s election code ordering the Board of Elections to “make a mobile application available to all candidates, qualified petition circulators, and proposers to install on a mobile device registered with the Board” for the 2018 general election and all subsequent elections. Washington, D.C. began using the eSign petition-signing app in January 2018.