Board of Elections Director Deborah Marshall said potential write-in candidates have until next Friday to file a notice of intent to compete for the office.
Anyone wishing to be a write-in candidate must file a notice of intent with Marshall's office, run an advertisement of intent with The Columbia County News-Times and meet all other qualifying requirements.
Candidates must be U.S. citizens, Columbia County residents and registered voters, at least 30 years old, have no felony record, and have practiced law for the past seven years, Marshall said.
The qualifying fee is $2,173.02.
If no one registers as a write-in, taxpayers can avoid the countywide special election, which would cost more than $40,000.
After the Georgia secretary of state's office certified Padgett, she would become probate judge without the election, Marshall said.
Padgett, who is serving as the interim probate judge, would replace Hardaway, who died last month at age 75 after an illness.
Hardaway served as Columbia County's probate judge for 30 years.