2010 Election: In-person candidate filing begins June 7

The 2010 election season will officially open with the beginning of Filing Week on June 7, when hundreds of candidates throughout Washington officially launch their campaigns.

Candidates can file for office by using the Internet, in-person filing or submitting the declaration of candidacy via mail.

“There will be many congressional, legislative and judicial positions up for election this year throughout Washington, and many of these races will have multiple candidates, which is exciting for voters and good for democracy,” Secretary of State Sam Reed said.

Reed, the state’s chief elections officer, encourages more local leaders to file for office.

“Although many races have two or more candidates, some positions might have only one,” Reed said in a press release. “We need more local leaders to run for public office. Doing so not only is another way of giving back to their communities, it gives voters more choices. If you have passion for a certain issue, put that passion to good use by running for office.”

The primary election is Aug. 17, the general election is Nov. 2. Among the key races in Washington this year are the U.S. Senate office held by Patty Murray; all of the state’s congressional seats, including an open seat in the 3rd Congressional District; all 98 of the state House positions; and 25 state Senate seats.

In addition, three state Supreme Court offices (Position 1, held by Jim Johnson; Position 5, held by Barbara Madsen; and Position 6, held by Richard Sanders) are up this year. Numerous Court of Appeals offices will be on the ballot, as well as Superior Court judge positions in Clark, King, Pierce and San Juan counties.

In San Juan County, islanders will vote on 14 legislative and local positions this year: County assessor, auditor, clerk, prosecutor, sheriff, treasurer; County Council District 2, District 5, and District 6; District Court judge, Superior Court judge; U.S. House of Representatives 2nd District, 40th District state House Position 1, and 40th District state House Position 2.

“The U.S. Senate race promises to be very interesting, and there will be a closely contested battle for the 3rd congressional seat that Brian Baird is vacating,” Reed said. “When you factor in all of these races, it promises to be a pretty exciting and closely watched election year.”

Although Filing Week runs June 7-11, candidates have had the option of submitting their Declaration of Candidacy form and filing fee via mail since May 21. Candidate names will be posted beginning June 7.

In-person filings will be accepted during regular business hours June 7-11 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Office of Secretary of State’s conference room on the second floor of the Legislative Building in Olympia. The in-person filing deadline is 5 p.m. on June 11.

An increasingly popular way to submit a Declaration of Candidacy for office is online at www.vote.wa.gov. Filings will be accepted after 9 a.m. on June 7, until 4 p.m. on June 11. The secure filings may be submitted at any hour of the day or night this way. Of the 332 candidates who filed with the Office of Secretary of State in 2008, 180 candidates filed electronically, or about 54 percent.

Candidates must file with the Office of Secretary of State if they are running for a federal or statewide office, a legislative seat in a district that is in more than one county, or a multi-county judicial district.

Candidates running for a legislative seat in a single-county district, a single-county judicial district or other office wholly within one county must file with their county elections office.

For a list of County Auditor offices, visit www.secstate.wa.gov/elections

Candidates may withdraw, in writing, through June 17 at 5 p.m.

Under the Top 2 Primary system adopted by citizen initiative in 2004 and upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008, the Declaration of Candidacy form allows candidates to self-describe their political preference, but this will not mean that the person is nominated by or supported by a party.

The form will allow up to 16 characters to provide the name of the party a candidate prefers. Candidates cannot include profanity or imply or state that they are nominated or endorsed by a political party or that a party approves of or associates with them.

The regulations don't prevent candidates from trying to include additional information about themselves, such as "Anti-war Dem" or "Pro-life G.O.P,” "Evans Republican" or "Jackson Democrat." But Reed said he hopes candidates will simply list the actual name of a political party and not try to jam in personal or political information.

"Washington voters expect those who run for office to take the elections process seriously,” Reed said. “The good news is that hardly any candidates last year used silly names in stating their party preference, and I hope no candidate will make a joke of it this year."

After Filing Week concludes, the Office of Secretary of State will conduct a lot drawing to determine the order of candidates for each race on the 2010 ballot.

Candidates are free to publicize party endorsements, their incumbency or other descriptions in their campaigns and in voters' pamphlet statements, but Reed said the actual ballot will be free of this material.

The party information will be displayed on the ballot as:

John Smith (Prefers Democratic Party)
Jane Doe (Prefers Republican Party)
Michael Martin (States No Party Preference)

Parties are no longer allowed to fill any vacancies, because there are no more major party tickets in a Top 2 Primary. All candidates are treated the same. A race can be reopened for a special filing period if nobody files during the regular filing period.

In the Primary Election, voters choose their favorite for each office without regard to party, and the top two vote-getters advance to the General Election. The Top 2 Primary is a winnowing election to narrow the field for the November General Election, and not a nominating election. Parties may hold their own nominating conventions to pick a favorite for each office. That information won't go on the ballot for the state-run primary or general elections.

Filing fees for offices with annual salaries of $1,000 or more are 1 percent. For instance, it costs $421.06 to file for a legislative race.

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