The power and importance of Washington Secretary of State’s office has perhaps never been clearer than during this unusual campaign season. The process of elections seems to generate as much discussion as the contests themselves.
These turbulent times demand a steady hand at the helm of state elections. Voters should return the incumbent, Kim Wyman, to office for a third term.
In eight years as Secretary of State, Kim Wyman has proven a thoughtful leader, eschewing party politics to tread a centrist’s path.
Although elected as a Republican, the former Thurston County elections director has earned the respect — and endorsements — of elections officials from both major parties.
In an interview with The Seattle Times editorial board, she vowed, in her third term, to work toward making the Secretary of State a nonpartisan office — a welcome change that lawmakers should embrace.
After Russian agents targeted U.S. election systems in 2016, she brought in cybersecurity experts from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Washington National Guard to review and fortify election security.
After lawmakers dismissed her warnings about their unrealistic timeline for activating the VoteWA voter management system and same-day voter registration, Wyman rallied her staff to meet their deadlines. She kept a cool head during the sometimes-rocky rollout, helping maintain public confidence in the new system even while lingering errors and performance issues were being resolved.
Wyman’s most credible challenger, state Rep. Gael Tarleton, former House Majority Floor Leader, has a long history of public service and a clear passion for election security. The Democrat was the prime sponsor of election-security legislation passed last spring.
But Tarleton fails to make the case that Washington’s elections are uniquely vulnerable to foreign interference, or that Wyman has not done enough to protect them. Tarleton’s campaign rhetoric is quick to lunge into national issues. In fact, she seems set on tying President Donald Trump around Wyman’s neck — an utterly unfair tactic, given Wyman’s approach to elections and the other duties of her office.
This is no time to fan the flames of partisanship, nor to entertain the out-of-the-box ideas espoused by her other challengers — Ed Minger, who filed as an independent, and Gentry Lange, who identified as a progressive.
While Trump recently, without evidence, predicted the 2020 presidential election will be “the most corrupt election in the history of our country,” Wyman’s record and conduct are a firm answer to the unfounded rhetoric.
Wyman is a strong advocate for Washington’s vote-by-mail system and consistently has rebutted the president’s unfounded claims that vote-by-mail is somehow inherently vulnerable.
She runs a tight, respected office, with the esteem of election officials around the state. Washington voters should return her to the job for a third term.