Circulator affidavit

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A circulator affidavit is a section that appears on candidate nominating petitions and initiative petitions in some states wherein the circulator is required to attest or swear to various facts.

The nature of the facts to which the circulator is required to attest varies. Some of the more common requirements are:

  • The circulator attests that he or she personally witnessed each act of signing the petition.
  • The circulator attests that he or she believes (or in some cases, is required to state that he or she knows) that each individual who signed the petition is a registered voter or otherwise eligible to sign the petition.

Because the circulator affidavit is an oath of sorts, it must be signed in the presence of a notary public. This additional requirement leads to a common claim in petition blocking cases in post-certification signature challenges, when those challenging the initiative or candidate scrutinize the bona fides of each notary public who witnessed circulator affidavits. If the license of a notary public who signed, for example, 80 petition sheets for a particular circulator turns out to have a lapsed notary license, all those signatures might be invalidated.

Relevant lawsuits

  • Secretary of State v. Give Nevada a Raise. In this 2004 lawsuit, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that the affidavit requirements set forth in Section 3 of Article 19 of the Nevada Constitution are an unconstitutional burden on political speech and hence prohibited under the First Amendment. The law that was struck down as unconstitutional provided that each petition form must include an affidavit stating that all the signatures on the petition are genuine signatures of persons who are registered voters in the counties in which they reside. The circulator was also required to sign the affidavit in the presence of a notary public.