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RCW 29A.84.320 addresses a critical aspect of election integrity in the State of Washington. This statute specifically targets fraudulent activities related to the filing of candidacies for public office. It underscores the importance of honesty and accuracy in the electoral process by outlining significant penalties for those who attempt to mislead voters or manipulate electoral outcomes through deceitful practices. This article will explore the provisions of RCW 29A.84.320, its implications, and the penalties involved.

Key Provisions of RCW 29A.84.320

RCW 29A.84.320 outlines several scenarios in which filing false candidacy information is considered a criminal offense. The law categorizes these actions under four main provisions:

  1. Filing for Nonexistent or Fictitious Persons: It is illegal to file a declaration of candidacy for individuals who do not exist.
  2. Using False Names: Submitting candidacy under a name that is not one’s true legal name is prohibited.
  3. Imitating Incumbents: It is unlawful to use a name similar to an incumbent running for reelection, with the intent to confuse voters by exploiting the incumbent’s reputation.
  4. Exploiting Similar Surnames: Filing under a surname similar to that of a well-known candidate previously filed for the same office, with the aim to mislead the electorate by leveraging the political reputation of that candidate, is also illegal.

Penalties Under RCW 29A.84.320

Violations of RCW 29A.84.320 are classified as a Class B felony. The consequences are severe, reflecting the seriousness with which the state treats election fraud. The penalties are as follows:

  • Class B Felony: This classification is one of the more severe under Washington state law, indicating the gravity of the offense.
  • Punishments According to Chapter 9A.20 RCW: Those found guilty of violating RCW 29A.84.320 are subject to penalties outlined in chapter 9A.20 RCW, which includes potential imprisonment and fines. The specific terms of punishment can vary, but they underscore the stringent measures in place to maintain the integrity of the electoral process.

Importance of Election Integrity

RCW 29A.84.320 plays a vital role in safeguarding the integrity of elections. By imposing strict penalties for deceitful candidacy filings, the statute helps ensure that elections are fair and transparent. This is crucial for maintaining public trust in the electoral system and for the functioning of a democratic society.


RCW 29A.84.320 is an essential component of Washington State’s legislative framework to combat electoral fraud. It serves as a deterrent against the misuse of the electoral process by clearly defining illegal activities and attaching significant penalties to them. Understanding and adhering to these regulations is crucial for candidates, political parties, and election officials to ensure that all electoral processes remain transparent and fair.

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