To become a candidate for state legislature, individuals must meet eligibility requirements and file paperwork. In some states, potential candidates must also complete petitions and pay filing fees to get on the ballot.
The pages in this series provide an overview of each state’s requirements, but this resource is not a legal guide on how to run for a legislative seat. If you are considering running for your state’s legislature, reach out to your secretary of state or state board of elections office for guidance.
States have various requirements to gauge a candidate’s support and to deter frivolous candidates. The two most common methods are imposing candidate filing fees and requiring signatures on a nominating petition. Each state except Alaska allows individual candidates to get on the ballot via petition, but the number of required signatures varies from a low of 15 in Hawaii to a high of 5% of a district’s registered voters in Illinois. The number of required signatures may also vary for major-party and nonparty candidates.