The first day of filing – actually the first few minutes – used to be the busiest and most interesting part of the week. Candidates would line up and camp out the night before in an effort to be the first person to file for a particular office. They’d play cards, tell stories, pass around a flask or two, make a dawn patrol run for coffee and donuts.
Being first in the door would mean the candidate’s name was listed first on the ballot for that position, a spot that can be worth a few extra percentage points, particularly in elections involving relatively unknown candidates or relatively uncontroversial offices.
Candidates shouldn’t go searching for their sleeping bag, though. The law was changed and now the ballot order is determined by a lottery after filing closes on Friday. Getting there at the crack of dawn Monday gives you the same chance of the top spot as beating the filing deadline by 30 seconds.
In Spokane County, the office will be open 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Other counties may open earlier or close later, so be sure to check if you’re timing a special trip.
Or you could save yourself the trip, file online and pay with a credit card. The Washington Secretary of State’s office, at www.sos.wa.gov has links to all the county elections offices. It also has addresses. You can print out a petition of candidacy, write a check and mail it in.