Law, Rules and Information for Filers
New Late-Filing Penalties - $50/$150
21 Day Reminder - General
Are Councilmembers elected by district?
In 2013 Seattle Voters passed Charter Amendment 19 which changed the form of voting for City Councilmembers from nine at-large positions to seven district positions and two at-large possitions. Candidates must live in the district they run in and are voted on by voters in that district.
How can I find my Council District?
Contact King County Elections at (206) 296-VOTE(8683) to find which City Council District you live in.
Who/What's on the Seattle ballot in 2015?
Regular elections occur in odd-number years in Seattle.
Because of Charter Amendment 19, passed by the voters in 2013, all City Council positions, 1 - 9, will appear on the ballot in 2015. Positions 1-7 will be elected to four-year terms, and positions 8 and 9 will be elected to two-year terms. Thereafter, candidates for all positions will be elected to four-year terms.
We won't know until mid-May 2015, what ballot issues, if any, will appear on the Primary, August 4, 2015 ballot. In August 2015, we'll know what issues will be on the General Election ballot on November 3, 2015.
King County, the Port of Seattle and the Seattle School Board all have positions on the ballot as well. See King County Elections for more information about these candidates.
What is the Contribution Limit for candidates on the ballot in 2015?
The contribution limit for all City candidates is $500 for contributions received on or after November 24, 2015. Prior to November 24, it was $700. Contributions to Candidates who opt in to the Democracy Voucher Program starting in the 2017 election cycle may have additional limits.
What are the contribution limits for Candidates participating in the Democracy Voucher program?
In the 2017 election cycle, Candidates for City Attorney and at-large City Council will have the option of participating in the Democracy Voucher Program. Participants running for office for these offices will be subject to a $250 contribution limit.
Are there limits on contributions to ballot issue campaigns?
Currently, there are no contribution limits on ballot issue campaigns. [See next question for additional information.]
What about limits on ballot issue campaigns during the final 21 days before the election?
In 2015, the City Council amended SMC 2.04.265, eliminating the $5,000 contribution limit during the final 21 days before the election.
With State and Federal Elections a person can contribute a certain amount in the primary and then the same amount in the general election. Is it the same with the City?
No, it is not the same. The $700 limit for candidates applies to the entire election cycle, there is not a separate limit for the primary and another limit for the general.
I thought State Law changed, and that State contribution limits now apply to City candidates?
While it's true that State law was recently changed to apply contribution limits to many local candidates, Seattle's contribution limit laws do not exceed the State limits and are still in effect.
How do I get the 'Upload to SEEC' option in ORCA?
Click on ORCA Tips to the right of this screen. Follow the instructions there.
What is the deadline for filing for office?
There are two "Filing Deadlines": 1) Candidates must file for Campaign Disclosure reporting, and 2) they must file a Declaration of Candidacy to put their name on the ballot.
For campaign disclosure purposes, a person running for office must file PDC Form C-1 (Statement of Organization) and Form F-1 (Personal Financial Affairs) within 2 weeks of becoming a candidate. In 2010 the PDC and the SEEC began accepting e-filed C-1s. Follow the instructions in the set up wizard in ORCA to e-file your C-1 with the PDC and with the SEEC.
Alternatively, paper forms are available on the PDC's website. The City still requires the F-1 be filed on paper.
The deadline for putting your name on the ballot in 2015 is Friday, May 15. This is called the Declaration of Candidacy. Candidates file the DoC with King County Elections. The filing fee or signatures in lieu of a filing fee must be included with the DoC.
When do I have to start filing reports?
You become a candidate when you a. publicly announce you are a candidate, b. raise or spend money for your candidacy, c. solicit contributions or pledges contingent on your candidacy, d. reserve office or advertising space, or e. allow someone to do b. c. or d. on your behalf. The C-1 and the F-1 (Statement of Personal Affairs) are filed with the PDC and the Seattle City Clerk.
Candidates can solicit or accept contributions beginning on January 1 in the year before they will appear on the ballot. For 2015 candidates, January 1, 2014 is when they can begin fundraising.
A candidate may file a C-1 prior to January 1, but cannot solicit or receive contributions until January 1.
I want to run for office or start a ballot issue campaign, who should I talk to first?
If you are interested in becoming a candidate for Seattle Mayor, City Attorney or City Council, or running a City ballot issue campaign, we've created a 2013 Candidate Committee Guide. Click on the Guide Book link to the right. 2015 Guide coming soon.
While the Guide is thorough and informative, it can't possibly answer all your questions, so we invite you to Contact our Campaign Finance or Training staff as early in your decision-making process as possible.
For all other offices, (i.e. Seattle School Board, Port of Seattle Commission, Judges, etc.) contact the WA State PDC.
What about the initiative itself, filing it, creating petitions, getting a ballot title, gathering signatures, etc...?
Please check out the Seattle City Clerk's site or call the Clerk at (206) 684-8344 to learn more about putting an initiative on the ballot.
Where do I go to Electronically File?
Can I electronically file the C-1?
Yes! Follow the steps in the ORCA setup wizard to e-file the C-1 with the PDC and the SEEC.
Can I electronically file the F-1?
While the PDC does allow for e-filing of the F-1, the City is not set up for this. Please print a copy of your e-filed F-1, and deliver it to the City Clerk. Remember to sign the printed form before filing it.
Alternatively, you can complete the F-1 on paper. Blank forms are available on the PDC's website. Sign and file the completed form with the PDC and the City Clerk.
Where do I send reports filed on paper?
Seattle City Clerk
PO Box 94728
Seattle, WA 98124-4728
Filers also have a campaign disclosure filing obligation with the WA State Public Disclosure Commission.
I plan to electronically file, but I can't this period. Can I just file my C-3s and C-4s on paper?
No. If you are having difficulty e-filing please Contact our Campaign Finance or Training staff.
What's the Election Cycle?
In 2012, the Council shortened the cycle from four years to approximately 2.5 years. It begins on January 1 a year before the general election and ends on April 30 of the year following the general election for the office the candidate is seeking. For example, the Election Cycle for candidates running for office in 2015 is January 1, 2014 through April 30, 2016.
What about the candidates themselves, do they have a limit on what they can contribute to their own campaign?
No, for the most part they can give as much as they want to their own campaign. However, in the final 21 days of an election the candidate can contribute no more than $5,000 to their own campaign.
Please note that the State PDC places restrictions on the amount a candidate can be repaid for loans made to the campaign. Contact the PDC to learn about candidate loans before making any campaign loans if you have any expectation of recouping those funds.
How can I get contact information for each campaign?
Click on the "Campaigns" link in the left hand menu at the top of this page.
How do I learn more about what I need to file?
The Seattle Ethics & Elections Commission offers training to all candidates, treasurers, campaign staff or volunteers who would like to learn more about disclosure regulations. The training takes approximately two hours. If you would like to make an appointment for a training session at our office please Contact our Campaign Finance or Training staff.