The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics will begin handing out petitions today for prospective candidates in the District's Sept. 9 primary election.

The petition process provides widely differing requirements for candidates in the primary, which will be held for the offices of D.C. delegate to the House of Representatives, mayor and D.C. City Council chairman. In addition, two at-large seats and seats in Wards 1, 3, 5 and 6 will be contested.

The formula requires Democrats seeking nomination in a citywide race to obtain 2,000 signatures of registered Democrats to win a place on the primary ballot, according to Joe Baxter, the D.C. registrar. Citywide Republican contenders need only 213 signatures because of the lower number of registered Republicans in the city, Baxter said.

The D.C. Statehood Party, the third party authorized to hold primaries in the District, is so small that citywide Statehood candidates need just 13 signatures.

The council ward races require fewer signatures because there are fewer voters. If a D.C. Statehood candidate were to surface in Ward 3, for example, the candidate's signature alone on a petition would be sufficient to qualify to appear on the primary ballot, Baxter said.

The primary candidates have until July 2 to file their petitions and may file them as early as June 9.

Independent and minor party office-seekers, who do not seek nomination in one of the three authorized primaries, must wait until July 14 to begin collecting signatures to appear on the November general election ballot and have until Aug. 27 to file them. Citywide independents and others must have 3,000 signatures and ward contenders need 500, Baxter said.

To qualify to conduct primaries in the District, parties must have nominated at least one candidate who won a minimum of 7,500 votes in the previous general election.

The D.C. Statehood Party, which for years has been led by at-large council member Hilda Mason, who faces reelection this year, qualified to hold a primary this year because Statehood candidate Josephine (Jo) Butler garnered more than 41,000 votes in her losing campaign in 1984 for an at-large council seat. Republican Carol Schwartz won that council election, qualifying her party.

Ann Heuer, chairwoman of the D.C. Republican Committee, said yesterday that her party expects to retain its primary authorization and will field several ward candidates as well as at least one at-large challenger in the council races.