The Elections Division is open for curbside service. Please call (360) 902-4180 for assistance, M - F 8 a.m. 5 p.m.

Candidate Filing FAQ

2021 Candidate Filing period begins Monday, May 17 and ends Friday, May 21.

If you’re a candidate filing for a state office, please review our State Candidate Guide 2021

Write-in Candidate Information and Frequently Asked Questions

2021 | Key Dates for Candidate Filing

  • May 3   - First day filing officer may receive candidate declarations by mail.
  • May 17 - Official Candidate Filing Week opens.
  • May 21 - Final day for all candidates to file for office, and Lot Draw for ballot order.
  • May 24 - Candidate withdrawal deadline.
  • May 25 - Last day for Secretary of State to certify candidates to County Auditors.
  • May 26 - Final day to submit candidate statements & photographs for state Voters' Pamphlet. Start yours early!
  • July 15 - Deadline to file a Write-in Declaration of Candidacy form without paying a filing fee for the August Primary.
  • Oct 14  - Deadline to file a Write-in Declaration of Candidacy form without paying a filing fee for the November General.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

What are the required qualifications to be a candidate?

You must be a registered voter and possess the qualifications specified by law. Most offices require the candidate to be registered within the district. Exceptions are US Congress and Superior Court.

If a candidate must be selected by voters from a geographic subdivision of a jurisdiction in the primary, the candidate must be properly registered to vote within that subdivision (RCW 29A.24.075).

Contact the jurisdiction of the office to learn if there are additional qualifications.

Return to top

 

Where can I file for office?

The Secretary of State accepts candidate filings for federal and statewide executive offices, and for any legislative, court of appeals, and superior court office serving more than one county.

To file as a write-in candidate for state office, contact us for instructions, fees, and to arrange curbside service. Please call (360) 902-4180 for assistance, M - F, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Your county elections office accepts filings for all other offices. Contact your county elections office for directions and hours of operation.

For a list of State offices: https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/candidates/Offices-Open-for-Election.aspx

Return to top

 

How and where can I file for office?

Candidate filing week - May 17-21, 2021

 

1. Online – fast and easy!

File online at: https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/candidates/Online-Candidate-Filing.aspx

Online is available only between May 17 at 9 am and ends May 21 at 4 pm. Must be submitted by 4 pm.

Pay your filing fee online with Visa, MasterCard or American Express.

 

2. In person

If you file with the Secretary of State, file here:

Washington Secretary of State Election Division office
520 Union Ave SE
Olympia, WA 98501

Monday, May 17, 8 am through Friday, May 21, 5 pm.

 

If you file with your county auditor’s office, you can find the address here:

http://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/auditors

 

3. By mail (can only be received up to 10 business days before the start of filing week and must be in office by 5 pm last day of filing.)

If you file with the Secretary of State, mail your declaration and filing fee to:

Candidate Filing
Office of the Secretary of State Election Divison
P.O. Box 40229
Olympia, WA 98504-0229

 

 

If you file with your county auditor’s office, you can find the mailing address here:

http://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/auditors

Return to top

 

When can I file for office?

Candidates may submit by mail

Starting May 3

In-person filing begins

May 17, 8 am

Online filing begins

May 17, 9 am

Online filing ends

May 21, 4 pm

All candidate filing ends

May 21, 5 pm

Last day to withdraw from ballot

May 24, close of business

Return to top

 

How much does it cost to file for office?

Filing fees are 1% of the office annual salary.

Salaries for members of the legislature, elected officials of the executive branch of state government, and judges of the state's supreme court, court of appeals, superior courts, and district courts shall be fixed by an independent commission [Washington Citizens' Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials] created and directed by law to that purpose (Washington Constitution, Article XXVIII).

Filing fees for offices filed with your County Auditor are available from your county elections office.

Filing fees are nonrefundable (RCW 29A.24.131).

Return to top

 

What are the accepted forms of payment?

Online filing for state offices requires a Visa, MasterCard or American Express.

If you file in person or by mail with the Office of the Secretary of State, pay via:

  • Check
  • Cash
  • Visa, MasterCard or American Express
  • Money order
  • Valid filing fee petition

For all other offices contact your county elections office to determine payment methods available.

Filing fee petitions-

Candidates without sufficient assets or income to pay the filing fee may submit a filing fee petition in lieu of filing fee. Each whole dollar of the filing fee requires one signature.

  • Candidates submitting petition signatures may not file electronically.
  • Filing fees may not be paid by combining petition signatures and currency.
  • Only signatures of registered voters in the same jurisdiction as the office are valid.
  • No person may sign two petitions for the same office in the same election.

We recommend candidates bring petitions into the appropriate Filing Officer as soon as possible as it will take time to check all the signatures. The filing is not valid until the petition is checked and approved.

Only complete petitions are acceptable. You may not pay partial cash to make up the difference.

For more information about filing fee petitions, please review the State Candidates Guide.

Return to top

 

How is the order of candidates determined?

A random lot draw conducted after candidate filing ends at 5 pm on May 24, sets the order which applies to all candidates for each race. Each filing officer conducts their own lot draw to determine their ballot orders.

Return to top

 

How can I withdraw my candidacy?

If you decide you do not want your name on the ballot, your signed withdrawal form must be received by the office where you filed by the end of business on Monday, May 24.

Candidate withdrawal forms are available at http://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/CandidateFiling.aspx

Filing fees are nonrefundable, even if you filed for the wrong office (RCW 29A.24.131).

Return to top

 

How do I submit my Voters’ Pamphlet statement and photo?

We recommend you submit your Voters’ Pamphlet information with your declaration and filing fee. All submissions are done online.

If you file online, you will be directed to submit your statement and photo after you’ve completed your office filing.

If you file in person or by mail, you will receive an email with a link included to allow you access to the online submission tool.

The deadline to submit for the Voters’ Pamphlet is 5 pm on May 28.

  • For submission specifications, please read the Voters’ Pamphlet instructions in the State Candidate Guide 2020, starting on page six.

Return to top

 

Do I have to file my campaign finance information?

Candidates for state or local office should refer to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission for reporting requirements. Forms and information are available at www.pdc.wa.gov

Candidates for U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives must report campaign finance information to the Federal Election Commission at www.fec.gov

Your campaign finance information is public information. A link to your campaign finance information will appear on your page in the online voters’ guide.

Return to top

 

Can I post campaign signs?

Please contact the respective agency or department about sign restrictions, permits, and deposits.

State - Department of Transportation - www.wsdot.wa.gov

County - Public works or transportation department

City - City clerk’s office

Return to top

 

What is public record?

  • All approved candidate declarations
  • Voter pamphlet submissions
  • Campaign contact information
  • Public disclosure commission documents

 

Return to top

Will my race be in the Primary?

A Primary election depends on the type of office and how many candidates file.

  • If the office type is nonpartisan (no party preference), then a Primary is held when 3 or more candidates file.
  • Many state offices are partisan (requires party preference) and all these offices appear on the Primary ballot.
  • Judicial offices fall under Clearinghouse #15-02.

Return to top

Can my “ballot name” be different than the name on my voter registration?

Yes, but the last name must be the same as the last name on the voter registration record. A ballot name can include a nickname, however, the last name must still match the last name on the voter registration record. If you recently changed your name and it’s not showing in the online filing module, please wait a day and allow time for the change to process.

 

Return to top

I moved recently. Do I need to update my registration before I file for office?

You must update your voter registration before filing for office. At the time of filing, you must be a registered voter in the district and have the qualifications specified by law. Please update at VoteWA.gov and then complete your filing application.

Return to top

 

I just filed for office, but why don’t I see my name on the list online?

That’s normal. A candidate’s name won’t display until the filing is examined with human eyes and approved by the Candidate Support team. Please give administrators time to process and refresh later. If you have concerns, contact your state or county Filing Officer.

Return to top

 

What if I can’t pay the filing fee?

Candidates without sufficient assets or income to pay the filing fee may submit a filing fee petition in lieu of filing fee. Each whole dollar of the filing fee requires one signature.

  • Candidates submitting petition signatures may not file electronically.
  • Filing fees may not be paid by combining petition signatures and currency.
  • Only signatures of registered voters in the same jurisdiction as the office are valid.
  • No person may sign two petitions for the same office in the same election.

We recommend candidates bring petitions into the appropriate Filing Officer as soon as possible as it will take time to check all the signatures. The filing is not valid until the petition is checked and approved.

Only complete petitions are acceptable. You may not pay partial cash to make up the difference.

For more information about filing fee petitions, please review the State Candidates Guide.

Return to top

 

I’ve already filed. How do I change the office or position on my declaration of candidacy?

The only way to change your office or position is to file again. A candidate must withdraw before the close of filing week and submit a new declaration of candidacy. Filing fees are non-refundable.

Return to top

 

How do I submit a write-in declaration?

Fill out a form and submit it to your filing officer by 8:00 pm on Election Day.

For more information visit Write-in Candidacy info page.

Return to top