Candidate Filing Methods

The PRIMARY ELECTION is only to determine the candidates for the Major parties that will run in the GENERAL ELECTION.

MAJOR PARTY is a group of affiliated voters that are qualified to nominate candidates at the primary election when at least 5% of the voters eligible to vote at the last general election are registered as members of the party. In 2016, for the first time, three parties qualified as Major Parties: Democrat, Republican, and Independent.

To qualify as a candidate, the candidate must be a registered member of that party for 180 days. ORS 249.046

The candidates that receive the most votes in the primary election for each of the major parties will be automatically nominated for the General Election.

PRIMARY ELECTION DAY is also used to determine nonpartisan races and county or city measures.  In NONPARTISAN races, the winner is usually determined on the Primary Election Day.  But, if no single candidate gets at least 50 percent of the vote , the top two victors will be on the ballot in the General Election.


AUTO NOMINATED – A major party candidate that has won the majority of votes at the primary election has their name automatically carried to the general election ballot. Another type of auto nominated candidate is a nonpartisan candidate that will automatically be named on the general election ballot if more than one candidate is running for that office, as defined in statute.

MAJOR PARTY candidates may also appear on the General Election ballot by paying a fee, petition, by party nomination or qualify by write-in in the primary. If a major party has a candidate on the ballot by other means, they can still run a write-in campaign in the General Election.

MINOR PARTY candidates do not compete in the primary. Candidates are nominated at the Minor Party Convention, according to their by-laws, to run in the General Election. A minor party may nominate a major party candidate to represent their party in the General Election.

NON-AFFILATE candidates can file for a place on the ballot by “independent elector” petition with a designated percentage of active voter signatures in their district, or by “assembly of electors” of at least 1,000 active voter signatures at one place within a 12 hour time frame.

WRITE-IN candidates from the Primary ballot. When a candidate receives the most votes via write-in votes in the primary election for a party they are not registered with, that party will appear next to the candidate’s name on the General Election ballot.

WRITE-IN candidate names in the General Election that do not appear on the ballot,  can run for office by running a write-in campaign asking people to write in their name on the ballot. A write-in candidate can also be a name that voters voluntarily write-in on a ballot.


The General Election Ballot lists all eligible candidates with all the parties behind their name that they are qualified to represent, regardless of their party affiliation. The candidate’s party will be listed first, and any candidate can have up to three parties behind their name on the General Election Ballot.


Assembly of Electors – A method for a voter who is registered as nonaffiliated to file for office by petition. The candidate must get 1,000 signatures in a restricted area that the people cannot leave.

Completed Petitions – A candidate that filed by prospective petition to run for office and has completed the process.

Fee – Major party or nonpartisan candidates are allowed to pay a fee.

Independent Elector- a candidate circulates a petition which needs to have a designated number of active voter signatures. The number is based on a percentage of the registered voters in the district in the last presidential race.

Nominated – Candidates that are selected by a major party/nonpartisan in the primary election to be on the general election ballot.

Prospective Petitions – A method of filing that allows major party and nonaffiliated voters to file for office instead of paying a fee.

Selected by Secretary of State – This only applies to a Presidential candidate, ORS 249.078.

Vacancy – A candidate that was selected to run for the office due to a vacancy.

You can find a description of each of the filing methods in the 2016 Candidate’s Manual.