advertising displays, newspaper ads, billboards, signs, brochures, articles, tabloids, fliers, letters, radio or TV presentations, or other means of mass communication, used for the purpose of appealing, directly or indirectly, for votes or for financial or other support or opposition in an election campaign.
"Mass communication" is a message intended to reach a large audience through any of the methods described above as well as periodicals, sample ballots, websites, emails, text messages, social media, and other online or electronic formats enabling the exchange of communication. Sending 100 or more identical or substantially similar letters, emails or test messages to specific recipients within a 30-day period is an example of mass communication.
At least one of the photos used in an ad must have been taken within the last five years and it may not be smaller than the largest candidate photo in the ad.
must be included in any form of advertising about a candidate seeking election to a partisan office, regardless of who sponsors the ad. Official symbols or logos adopted by the state committee of the party may be used to indicate a candidate's party preference in political advertisements instead of words.
Acceptable abbreviations that may be used for party preference are:
Democrat: D, Dem, Demo
Independent or unaffiliated: Ind, Indep
Libertarian: L, LP, LBT, LBTN
Progressive, P, PP, Prog
Republican: R, GOP, Rep (use Rep only if it does not falsely imply the candidate is an incumbent State Representative)
Socialist Workers: Soc Workers, SWP
Print ads & websites - display sponsor ID and any party preference in an area set apart from the ad text on the first page of the ad. Use at least 10-point type; do not screen or half-tone the text. Exceptions -
Broadcast ads, videos, and online audio ads - clearly identify or speak the sponsor's name and any party preference. (Sponsor's address not required.) When necessary in TV or video ads, a political committee has the option of displaying its Top 5 contributor names on the screen for at least 4 seconds in letters greater than 4% of the visual screen height at a reasonable color contrast with the background. An abbreviation may be used when naming a Top 5 contributor, if the full name of the contributor is clearly spoken in the ad.
badges & badge holders
bumper stickers < 4"x15"
golf balls & tees
nail clippers & files
print newspaper ads < one column inch
official voters pamphlet
paper & plastic cups and plates
reader boards with moveable letters
rulers < 12"
stickers < 2-3/4" x 1"
tickets to fund raisers
yard signs < 8' x 4'
... and all similar items
It is illegal to sponsor a political ad, with actual malice, that contains a statement constituting libel or defamation per se* if the statement:
*See RCW 42.17A.335(2) for a definition of libel and defamation per se.
**Unless a candidate is making a statement about him or herself or the statement is made by the candidate's agent about the candidate.
It is also illegal to:
The Washington State Department of Transportation regulates when and where campaign signs can be placed along Interstate highways, primary highways, and highways that are part of the Scenic and Recreational system. Check with your city’s or county’s public works departments for regulations governing campaign signs in those jurisdictions.
The information contained in online instructions has been distilled from the requirements set out in RCW 42.17A and Title 390 WAC, as well as the Public Disclosure Commission's declaratory orders and interpretations. Care has been taken to make the instructions accurate and concise. Nevertheless, the instructions cannot be substituted for the applicable laws and rules