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Candidate Filing FAQ

2020 Candidate Filing period begins Monday, May 11 and ends Friday, May 15.

Download our Candidate Fact Sheet

If you’re a candidate filing for a state office, please review our State Candidate Guide 2020

Key Dates for Candidate Filing

  • April 27 - First day filing officer may receive candidate declarations by mail.
  • May 11 - Official Candidate Filing Week opens.
  • May 15 - Final day for all candidates to file for office, and Lot Draw for ballot order.
  • May 18 - Candidate withdrawal deadline.
  • May 19 - Last day for Secretary of State to certify candidates to County Auditors.
  • May 22 - Final day to submit candidate statements & photographs for state Voters' Pamphlet. Start yours early!


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.

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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.

Your county elections department accepts filings for all other offices. Online filing is not available at all county elections departments. Contact your county elections department for directions and hours of operation.

For a list of State offices:

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How and where can I file for office?

Candidate filing week - May 11-15


1. Online – fast and easy!

File online at:


Online filing begins May 11 at 9am and ends May 15 at 4pm. Must be submitted by 4pm.

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 11, 8am through Friday, May 15, 5pm


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


3. By mail (can only be received up to 10 business days before the start of filing week)

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:

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When can I file for office?

Candidates may submit by mail

Starting April 27

In-person filing begins

May 11, 8am

Online filing begins

May 11, 9am

Online filing ends

May 15, 4pm

All candidate filing ends

May 15, 5pm

Last day to withdraw from ballot

May 18, close of business

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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 department.

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

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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 department ( 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.

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

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How is the order of candidates determined?

A random lot draw conducted after candidate filing ends at 5pm on May 15, sets the order which applies to all candidates for each race. Each filing officer conducts their own lot draw to determine their ballot orders.

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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 18.

Candidate withdrawal forms are available at

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

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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 22.

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

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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

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

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

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Can I post campaign signs?

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

State - Department of Transportation -

County - Public works or transportation department

City - City clerk’s office

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What is public record?

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


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Will my race be in the Primary?

This depends on 2 things: the type of office and how many candidates file. If the office is nonpartisan (no party preference) a Primary is held when 3 or more candidates file. Many state level offices are partisan (requires party preference) and all these offices appear on the Primary ballot. The nonpartisan offices at the state level are mostly judges. Judicial offices fall under Clearinghouse #15-02.

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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.


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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 and then complete your filing application.

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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.

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What if I can’t pay the filing fee?

A candidate can file with a filing fee petition. It requires one valid signature per dollar amount of the filing fee. Signatures must be from voters registered in the district in which they wish to file. We recommend candidates bring petitions into the office of 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.

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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.

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