History of the Office

The Office of the Secretary of State was established with the adoption of the Washington State Constitution in 1889. The Secretary of State is elected every four years and is second in the line of succession to the Office of the Governor. There have been 16 Secretaries of State since Statehood.

The current Secretary of State is Steve Hobbs.

Previous Washington Secretaries of State

Primary Functions of the Secretary of State

The Secretary of State is the state's chief elections officer, chief corporations officer, and supervisor of the State Archives. The duties of the office are specified in Article III, Section 17 of the Washington State Constitution and Chapter 43.07 RCW. 

Responsibilities of the Secretary of State include:

  • Supervising state and local elections, and certifying the results of state primaries and general elections.
  • Filing and verifying initiatives and referendums.
  • Producing and distributing the state voters pamphlet and election-notice legal advertising.
  • Registering private corporations, limited partnerships and trademarks.
  • Registering individuals, organizations and commercial fundraisers involved in charitable solicitations.
  • Administering the state's Address Confidentiality Program for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.
  • Collecting and preserving the historical records of the state, and making those records available for research.
  • Coordinating implementation of the state's records management laws.
  • Affixing the State Seal and attesting to commissions, pardons, and other documents to which the signature of the Governor is required.
  • Regulating use of the State Seal.
  • Filing or attesting to official acts of the Legislature and Governor.
  • Certifying to the Legislature all matters legally required to be certified.

In addition to these constitutional and statutory duties, the Secretary of State is frequently called upon to represent the state of Washington in international trade and cultural missions, and to greet and confer with dignitaries and delegations visiting the state of Washington from other countries.

Agency Mission

The Office of the Secretary of State promotes public trust by:

  • Safeguarding vital government records, documents, publications and process
  • Preserving the integrity of elections in Washington State
  • Providing the business community and public with easy access to information about corporations and charities
  • Performing public outreach to improve civic knowledge and participation
  • Leveraging technology to improve efficiency and enhance customer service