Write-in Candidacy

Write-in candidates must file a declaration to have votes tallied for a race. Write-in candidates may file a declaration of candidacy form up until 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.

Write-in candidates do not appear on the ballot, websites, or in the printed Voters’ Pamphlet.

Declaration of Write-in Candidacy

Presidential Declaration of Write-in Candidacy

Offices Subject to Election and Filing Fees

Write-in candidates that file more than 18 days before an election do not pay a filing fee.

Write-in candidates that file 18 days or less before an election must pay a filing fee.

  • For offices with a fixed annual salary of more than $1,000, the filing fee is 1% of the annual salary.
  • For offices with a fixed annual salary of $1,000 or less, the filing fee is $25.
  • Candidates for offices without a fixed annual salary must also pay the $25 filing fee, including those paid on per diem or per meeting basis.
  • Candidates may submit a filing fee petition in lieu of the filing fee.
    • Number of signatures equal to the number of whole dollars of the filing fee

Print and sign a declaration form. Submit to the filing officer for the jurisdiction:

Individual tallies do not appear on results.

Election officials do not tally write-in candidates unless the total number of write-in votes are greater than the highest vote getter. A primary write-in candidate must receive more than the second most vote getter. RCW 29A.60.021

If there are enough write-in votes to tally, elections officials will count all recognizable variations of your name.

Officials may not reject a write-in vote due to a variation in the form of the name if the canvassing board can determine the issue for or against which or the person and the office for which the voter intended to vote. RCW 29A.60.040

Write-in voting—Voter intent. WAC 434-262-160
(1) In all cases of write-in votes, the canvassing board shall exercise all reasonable efforts to determine the voter's intent.

The board shall determine if votes with name and spelling variations are votes for a declared write-in candidate.

Voter Intent Manual
The Office of the Secretary of State is committed to making every effort to ensure officials count each valid vote.

By law, Washington is a “voter intent” state, which means voters are not disenfranchised if they mark a ballot differently than directed. When officials can distinguish voter intent, we will count the vote.

Election

You may file for either the Primary or General Election, but not both for the same office.

Primary election write-in candidates who receive at least 1% of the total vote and are the second most vote getter will appear on the General Election ballot and be available in the printed Voters’ Pamphlet and Online Voters’ Guide.

Voters’ Pamphlet Profile
When filing a write-in declaration for the primary election, submit an accompanying pamphlet profile. We will only use your profile if you move on to the general. Please see the State Candidates Guide for profile guidelines.

Party Preference
You may submit a party preference with your declaration. If you move on to the general, the preference will follow your name on the ballot.

Write-in candidates filing for the general do not appear on ballots, website, or in the printed Voters’ Pamphlet.

Voters’ Pamphlet Profile
Candidates filing a write-in declaration for the general election will not appear and you should not submit a profile.

Party Preference
You may submit a party preference. If elected, that preference will accompany your name for certification.

Laws

No person may file for more than one office with the exception of precinct committee officer or temporary positions such as charter review board member or freeholder. RCW 29A.24.075

If a candidate loses a race in the Primary, either as a regular candidate printed on the ballot or as a declared write-in, that candidate cannot file in the General Election as a write-in candidate for the same race. RCW 29A.24.311 & RCW 29A.60.021

Votes cast by stickers or printed labels are not valid for any purpose and election officials must reject those votes.

Votes cast by sticker or label shall not affect the validity of other offices or issues on the voter’s ballot. RCW 29A.60.100

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Any time before 8:00 p.m. on Election Day.

There is no fee if you file before the 18-day voting period begins

Filing on or after the 18-day voting period begins requires the full filing fee or petition in lieu of filing fee to accompany the write-in declaration.

You may submit via email, mail, or fax. Contact your filing officer.

Primary Election write-in candidates may submit a profile with their declaration. If the candidate receives enough votes to move on to the General Election, then the profile will be printed.

General Election write-in candidates do not appear online or in the printed Voters' Pamphlet.

Yes. Washington is a voter intent state and which means voters are not disenfranchised if they mark a ballot differently than directed. When officials can distinguish voter intent, we will count the vote. The Office of the Secretary of State publishes a Voter Intent Manual as part of our commitment to making every effort to ensure officials count each valid vote.

Officials may not reject a write-in vote due to a variation in the form of the name if the canvassing board can determine the issue for or against which or the person and the office for which the voter intended to vote. RCW 29A.60.040

Write-in voting—Voter intent. WAC 434-262-160
(1) In all cases of write-in votes, the canvassing board shall exercise all reasonable efforts to determine the voter's intent.

The board shall determine if votes with name and spelling variations are votes for a declared write-in candidate.

If there are enough write-in votes to tally, elections officials will count all recognizable variations of your name.

Unofficial totals appear after 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. All write-in votes, declared candidates or not, are grouped together for initial results. Only if there are enough total write-in votes in the race to change the apparent outcome will the election officials begin a tally for the declared candidates.

  • If there are enough total write-in votes, then the final tabulation will display each individual tally for the declared candidates. Multi-county districts must combine tabulation results from all counties.
  • If there are not enough total write-in votes to overcome the apparent winner, indivudal tallies will not occur.