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Candidate filing opens June 7 for 2010 political campaign

The 2010 election season will officially open Monday, 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.

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; all 98 of the state House positions; and 25 state Senate seats.

In addition, three of 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 King County.

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. 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.

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.

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 Secretary of State Sam Reed said the actual ballot will be free of this material.

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.

The Primary Election is August 17. King County votes entirely by mail, and ballots must be postmarked by August 17. The General Election is November 2.

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