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Filing for county and statewide offices starts Monday, with a few changes this year.

Local and state elections officials encourage candidates to file online or by mail because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The candidate filing week this year starts at 9 a.m. Monday and will end at 4 p.m. on Friday. The Secretary of State’s Office and the Yakima County Auditor’s election division are asking that people file their declaration of candidacy online, by mail or email.

While most candidacy filing requirements remain the same, one change this year is that an emergency proclamation from Gov. Jay Inslee has waived the collection of signatures for those who can’t afford the filing fee.

Under normal circumstances, candidates who can’t pay the fee are required to submit a petition with a number of signatures equal to the number of dollars of the filing fee. But given the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, Inslee noted that doing so could be difficult and eliminated the signature requirement through June 4.

Kathy Fisher, the Yakima County Elections Division manager, said elections staff reached out by mail and email to all incumbents on April 27, when the filing-by-mail period opened.

Though the county’s office has closed to the public given the pandemic, Fisher said elections staff are still available by phone and email to answer questions.

“Our door may be closed, but we’re still here to help,” Fisher said.

May 18 is the last

day for candidates to

withdraw their declarations, with ballots mailed on July 17 for the Aug. 4 primary.

Reach Lex Talamo at ltalamo@yakimaherald.com or on Twitter: @LexTalamo.