So what would it take to run a write-in campaign?

I’ve been asked a few times about whether a write-in candidate will emerge in the race for Clark County chair, and the rumors are certainly flying. The truth is I don’t know, but here’s a refresher on write-in laws in Washington state just in case.

First of all, none of the losing candidates in the primary can declare a write-in campaign under state law, nor will votes for them be counted. Councilors David Madore, Jeanne Stewart and Tom Mielke all had their shots and lost.

Second, there are two types of write-in campaigns. You can file for candidacy, which requires you to pay the same filing fee as any other candidate—in the case of the chair race, that’s $636—or not file and run independently.  Candidates who file must do so when ballots become available or 18 days prior to the election, so by Oct. 16 for this election.

In the case of undeclared candidates, votes for write-in candidates are not tallied unless the total number of write-in votes and undervotes recorded is greater than the number cast for the top candidate whose name appeared on the ballot. Basically if you run a write-in campaign, you have to win for the votes to be counted.

It’s not easy to run a write-in campaign. Linda Smith was the last to manage it locally in her 1994 bid for Congress.

This chair race is an interesting race for Republican leadership in Clark County in particular, as there is no Republican candidate. Mike Dalesandro, a Democrat, and Marc Boldt, who is running with no party preference but is a former Republican commissioner, will go on to the general election in November.

Boldt is branding himself as the conservative candidate, but remember that the Clark County Republican Party executive board censured Boldt for decisions deemed out of line with the party. I have a hard time, therefore, envisioning many members of the far right sitting down to fill out their ballots for Boldt.

I asked Kenny Smith, chairman of the Clark County Republican Party, if there’s anything happening behind the scenes to get a write-in campaign going. Since the election he said he’s heard a number of recommendations from precinct committee officers: to find a write-in candidate, to support Boldt and to do anything but support Boldt.

“It’s all up in the air,” he said.

Kaitlin Gillespie

Kaitlin Gillespie

I'm the education reporter at The Columbian. Get in touch at or 360-735-4517.

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