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The Election Is Over -- When Can I Take Office?


December 4, 2012
Category: Elections

You received the most votes and the results have been certified; now what? Before you can begin your tenure as an elected official, you will need to complete the final steps to be "qualified" to assume office.

For purposes of the election statutes, the term "qualified" means, in addition to the results being certified, that:

  • Any required bond has been posted; and
  • The winner has taken the oath of office.

RCW 29A.04.133.

Official bonds are required for many elective offices, and the amount of the bond is either specified by statute or by an ordinance passed by the legislative body.

The oath of office may be taken on or after the first day an elected official may assume office, which is typically the first day of January following an election, or prior to that day, as follows:

  • The oath may be given up to 10 days prior to the date of assuming office or at the last regular meeting held before the person elected is to assume office. RCW 29A.20.040. If the scheduled day of assuming office is January 1st, a new elected official may be sworn in up to 10 days before January 1st; at the last meeting in December, or at the first regular meeting after January 1st.
  • When a person is elected into a position previously held by someone who has been appointed, that person takes an oath twice: (1) when the election is certified; and (2) again, at the beginning of the new full term. (Note: The period of time from when the person is elected following certification of the results until the beginning of the new term on January 1 (the “full term”) is called the “short term.” See RCW 29A.04.169.)

Keep in mind that a newly-elected councilmember, commissioner, or board member may not engage in official duties unless he or she has taken the oath of office, described as the last step of qualification in RCW 29A.20.040(3). If the oath of office is taken prior to January 1st, then his or her full duties may be assumed immediately on January 1 without any further action being required.

What should the oath say?

If no particular oath is specified by statute for the office, then the person must state that:

he or she will faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of the office to the best of his or her ability.

RCW 29A.04.133(3). Many local governments use wording similar to the following:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State of Washington, and all valid local ordinances, and that I will faithfully and impartially perform and discharge the duties of the office of _______ according to law, to the best of my ability.

Signature of Elected/Appointed Official ________________________Subscribed and sworn to before me this __ day of __, 20___. Signature of Person Administering Oath ________________________

Who can administer an oath?

Congratulations on your new role.  If you would like more information on taking office,  see the MRSC publication Getting Into Office.


MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.

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