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State of Washington

Judicial Campaigns and Elections: Washington

Voter Guides

By virtue of a 1912 constitutional amendment, the secretary of state's office has published a voter pamphlet for every general election since 1914. Judicial candidates were first included in 1972. However, the voter pamphlet was only distributed for the general election, did not include all judicial positions, and did not require disclosure of a candidate’s professional qualifications. In 1996, by order of the Washington Supreme Court, a judicial voter pamphlet was prepared for the primary elections through a public/private partnership between the office of the administrator of the courts (OAC) and Washington newspapers. The pamphlet was the result of a recommendation made in 1996 by the Walsh Commission, which was appointed to consider improvements to Washington's judicial selection process. The judicial voter pamphlet was prepared again in 1998. In 2000, the secretary of state's office published its first voter pamphlet for the primary elections and worked with the OAC to provide expanded information about judicial candidates. The pamphlet included such information as candidate backgrounds and personal statements. In 2002, the OAC and Washington newspapers again assumed the responsibility for preparing and disseminating the judicial voter pamphlet for the primary elections. The guide was available on the Washington courts’ website, and a video version featuring supreme court candidates was aired on the state’s public television network. In 2010, judicial candidates were included in the secretary of state's voters' guide for the general election, along with a fact sheet on judicial elections in Washington. For more information about voter guides in Washington, see Judicial Selection Reform: Examples from Six States.

A website called Voting for Judges offers information regarding candidate ratings, endorsements, and campaign contributors.