Law, Rules and Information for Filers
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 2019?
The positions of City Council Districts 1 - 7 are on the ballot in 2019. After May 17, 2019, we will know which of those positions will appear on the August 6, 2019 primary ballot.
Regular elections for Mayor, City Attorney and City Council occur in odd-number years in Seattle.
Because of Charter Amendment 19, passed by the voters in 2013, all City Council positions, 1 - 9, appeared on the ballot in 2015. Positions 1-7 were elected to four-year terms, and positions 8 and 9 were elected to two-year terms. Candidates for all positions after the 2017 election will be elected to four-year terms.
What is the Contribution Limit for candidates on the ballot in 2019?
The contribution limit for all City candidates is $500. Contributions to Candidates who opt in to the Democracy Voucher Program have additional limits. See next question.
What are the contribution limits for Candidates participating in the Democracy Voucher program?
In the 2019 election cycle, Candidates for City Council will have the option of participating in the Democracy Voucher Program. Participants running for these offices will be subject to a $250 contribution limit. Under certain conditions candidates can request to be released from the $250 contribution limit. If they are released their contribution limit would revert to the $500 limit.
What are the contribution limits for Mayoral candidates participating in the Democracy Voucher program in 2021?
In the 2021 election cycle, Candidates for Mayor will have the option of participating in the Democracy Voucher Program. Participants running for these offices will be subject to a $500 contribution limit. Unlike with candidates for City Attorney and City Council, this limit includes the value of democracy vouchers. Read the Commission's interpretation on contribution limits and vouchers.
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 contribution 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 the PDC Form F-1 (Personal Financial Affairs) and the SEEC Form F-1 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 SEEC F-1 be filed on paper.
The deadline for putting your name on the ballot in 2019 is Friday, May 17. 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 during the week of May 13 to May 17, 2019.
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 2019 candidates, January 1, 2018 is when they can begin fundraising.
A candidate running for City Council in 2019 may file a C-1 prior to January 1, 2018 but cannot solicit or receive contributions until January 1, 2018 in the year before the election.
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 2015 Candidate Committee Guide. Click on the Guide Book link to the right. 2017 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?
You can electronically file the PDC F-1 with the PDC, but you must file the SEEC F-1 on paper with the Seattle City Clerk. Remember to sign the printed form before filing it.
Blank PDC F-1 forms are available on the PDC's website.
Blank SEEC F-1 forms are available by clicking the F-1 FAQs link on the right column of this page.
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 2019 is January 1, 2018 through April 30, 2020.
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 of their own funds as they want to their own campaign. Candidates participating in the Democracy Voucher Program are subject to the campaign spending limits. Click on the Democracy Voucher link in the bar across the top of this page for more information on the Democracy Voucher Program.
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.