Would-be candidates planning to wait for the last minute to file for office be advised: Make sure you know when the “last minute” is. Depending on where you file, it could be earlier than you think.
Washington candidates have until “the close of business” to file their initial paperwork. Traditionally, that meant 5 p.m. across the state. It was common to see unopposed incumbents gather at the elections office about 4:45 p.m. on Friday of filing week to see if they’d drawn any challengers. Fence-sitting candidates might wait until 4:55 p.m. to get into a race with weak or no competition. And sometimes a person who’d become sidetracked with work, school, kids or life in general would rush in with just seconds to spare.
For people walking their petitions of candidacy into the Secretary of State’s office, where papers for any office that covers more than one county, 5 p.m. is still the drop-dead time
But for county elections offices, where candidates for county, legislative and judicial offices contained within their boundaries must file, the deadline could be different.
Spokane County elections office closes at 4 p.m. as do Ferry, Lincon and Pend Oreille counties.
Stevens County elections closes at 3:30 p.m, Adams County at 4:30 p.m. and Whitman County at 5 p.m.
That’s because many counties are struggling with tight budgets, and operating on shortened hours. Elections offices don’t have to stay open extra to accept candidate petitions.
Candidates can also file by mail, or online. But the deadline for those petitions is 4 p.m., no matter where they are going.