CHARLESTON -- The time draws near for those seeking public office in West Virginia to file the papers necessary to see their name on the ballot in the 2008 elections.

The official candidate filing period for the 2008 election cycle will begin Jan. 14 and end Jan. 26. Candidates seeking to run for public office are required to file a certificate of announcement during this period.

For those candidates filing for offices on the ballot in more than one county (i.e. a multi-county district), the candidate must file the certificate of candidacy with the Secretary of State's office. For those offices on the ballot in only one county, a candidate must file this certificate with his/her respective county clerk.

"The next three weeks are exciting and critical times for the political future of our State and our country." Secretary of State Betty Ireland said. "The pursuit of political office and political change is the lifeblood of our democracy.

"I applaud those willing to make the personal commitment necessary to serve the public."

In the past several years, many changes have been made to make the election process a more positive experience for candidates and voters. State and county officials have been busy preparing and meeting demands associated with a presidential election year and this election marks the second time that citizens statewide will vote using the HAVA compliant voting equipment.

Preparation has become an integral part of the process, and it is important that each candidate file at this time and provide all requested information.

Those who file with the Secretary of State's office will receive a copy of an updated guide published by the West Virginia Secretary of State's Office -- "Running for Office in West Virginia 2008" -- along with a newly produced compact disc with all the forms required to comply with West Virginia's campaign finance laws.

"Our office stands ready to provide whatever assistance candidates need to in their pursuit of public office." Ireland said.

Candidates may call 1-866-SOS-VOTE or visit www.wvvotes.com for additional filing information and assistance.

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