Elections Overview
elections overview


Of the 16 members of the State Board of Education (SBE), five members are elected by school district directors.1 This document describes the election process for those five members. A separate document covering the governor’s appointment of SBE members is available at: www.sbe.wa.gov/membership.php#govappointees.

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) conducts elections for SBE.

SBE Elections FAQ

OSPI Schedule for the Election Process

Date Event
July 25 Call of Election
July 25 through August 31 Filing Period
October 2 Withdrawal of Candidacy (by 5 pm on date set)
October 22 Certify Electors
October 31 Ballots mailed
November 29 Return Ballots by 5 pm
December 9 Count Votes
December Run-off Election
December 12 Report and Certification of Election2


Election to SBE

Of the five elected SBE members, two must be from eastern Washington and three from western Washington.3 Eligible candidates for election to SBE must meet specified qualifications.4 The length of a candidate’s term is four years, and no elected candidate other than the Superintendent of Public Instruction can serve more than two consecutive four-year terms.5 The terms are staggered so that no more than two of the positions are open for election in any year, unless a member has resigned. No person employed in any public or private school, college, university, or other educational institution or any educational service district superintendent's office or in the office of the superintendent of public instruction is eligible for membership on the state board of education. No member of a board of directors of a local school district or private school may continue to serve in that capacity after having been elected to the state board.

OSPI makes all pertinent information relating to an election available in a press release.

The filing window is open for seven days and closes a minimum of sixty days before an election.6

On the election commencement, ballots will be mailed to eligible electorates. These electorates are responsible for voting for one candidate for each position and returning the ballot by the announced deadline.7 Returned ballots deemed official8 will be counted by a three-member election panel designated by the Superintendent.9

A winning candidate must receive more than 50 percent plus one of the votes cast. If no candidate reaches the 50 percent plus one required minimum, a run-off election process begins.10 The announcement of the winning candidate or the necessity for a runoff election must be made no later than December 15.11

Elected SBE Member Vacancy

When there is a SBE elected member vacancy, the remaining elected SBE members will fill that vacancy by appointment, subject to full SBE approval.12 The nominated candidate must meet the specifications necessary for one who might be elected to that position.

Appointed Member Vacancy

When there is a governor-appointed vacancy on SBE, the governor will select a replacement.

Private Schools Member Vacancy

When there is a private schools representative vacancy, the Private Schools Advisory Committee will select a replacement.



1 RCW 28A.305.011

2 WAC 392-109-115

3 WAC 392-109-040

4 WAC 392-109-065
(1) Eligibility: A person is eligible to be a candidate for only one position on the state board of education at a time.

(a) A candidate for a vacancy among the five positions on the state board elected by members of public school boards of directors must be a resident of the region represented by the position and meet the other qualifications established by RCW 28A.305.102; and
(b) A candidate for a vacancy in the position on the state board elected by private schools must be a resident of the state of Washington and meet the other qualifications established by RCW 28A.305.021.

(2) Forms for filing: A person who desires to be a candidate shall complete:

(a) The declaration and affidavit of candidacy form provided for in WAC 392-109-070; and
(b) The biographical data form provided for in WAC 392-109-075: Provided, that a declarant may elect not to submit biographical data.

5 RCW 28A.305.021

6 WAC 392-109-065

7 WAC 392-109-085

8 WAC 392-109-100

9 WAC 392-109-095

10 WAC 392-109-111

11 WAC 392-109-115

12 WAC 392-109-120