'Public trust and confidence in our democracy is as important as the outcome of this race. " That is a quote from a recent essay in The Seattle Times by Washington Secretary of...

‘Public trust and confidence in our democracy is as important as the outcome of this race.”

That is a quote from a recent essay in The Seattle Times by Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed, who has kept a steady hand on the tiller in the stormy waters of the 2004 governor’s race.
Amid the tumult, Reed, a Republican, remained loyal to voters, not politicians in either party. He is to be commended for an admirable job.

In the recent, high-profile fight over several hundred disputed ballots in King County in the governor’s race, a partisan secretary of state would have supported the Republican agenda and argued the ballots should not be counted. But Reed stood up for the principle of counting votes and correcting election officials’ mistakes, as provided by state law.

Reed recently won re-election by siding with voters who wanted a primary system more like the blanket primary they had for 70 years. When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Washington’s system allowing crossover voting, Reed supported a top-two primary allowing voters to select individuals rather than parties.

In some ways, Reed is merely doing his job, running elections and erring on the side of voter enfranchisement rather than disenfranchisement.

This has been the closest, most unnerving election in our lifetime. It is a good bet we will never again experience such a tight contest. The process is not perfect and some legislative changes may be necessary.

Yesterday, King County certified its election results and Democrat Christine Gregoire came out ahead. That likely will not be the end of it. Republicans may seek to have other ballots included in other counties and may contest the entire election.

But every Democrat, Republican or independent should respect Reed, who refused to get distracted by the political fury. It is more important to protect public confidence in the election than to create an election result.