Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman says fellow Republican Donald Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud and a rigged election are “irresponsible.”
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman is rejecting Donald Trump’s insistence the U.S. election has been “rigged,” calling the GOP nominee’s claims ludicrous and distressing.
Wyman — the lone statewide elected Republican on the West Coast — said in an interview Monday “it’s irresponsible for a candidate to be casting doubt on the election process and just making these sweeping statements that the election is rigged already and that the outcome is predetermined.”
Wyman said one of the strengths of the American elections system is its decentralization, with votes counted by some 9,000 county auditors and other elections administrators.
“You would have to have a conspiracy of such grand scale that I think we would have much bigger problems than whether this election is rigged,” she said.
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Collapsing in the polls after multiple women accused him of unwanted groping, Trump has in recent days sought to question the legitimacy of the fall election.
Trump tweeted on Sunday that the election was being rigged in favor of Democrat Hillary Clinton by “dishonest” media and “also at many polling places.” On Monday, he claimed “large scale voter fraud” and attacked Republican leaders who deny it as “so naive.”
The nonpartisan fact-checking organization PolitiFact rated Trump’s claims of large-scale voter fraud as a “Pants-on-Fire” falsehood. While ineligible voters such as felons or noncitizens do cast votes, studies have shown the problem is not widespread.
Wyman called Trump’s efforts to undermine the legitimacy of election results “a little scary to me,” saying her office has received calls and emails from Trump supporters worried about voter fraud.
Washington had its own experience with controversial election results in 2004, with the historically close race sealed by Democrat Chris Gregoire over Republican Dino Rossi only after two recounts and a failed GOP lawsuit that sought to invalidate the election.
In the end, a judge rejected Republican claims of voter fraud causing Gregoire’s election.
Wyman said that election was among the most scrutinized in U.S. history yet found just a relatively tiny number — about 1,600 out of 2.7 million — of ineligible votes cast.
After that election, state and county elections officials worked to clean up voters rolls to remove duplicate registrations, felons and other ineligible voters. In addition, she said county vote-counting systems are not connected to the internet to prevent hacking concerns.
Still, Wyman recently proposed fixing one hole in Washington’s system — announcing legislation to require proof of citizenship or legal residency to obtain a state driver’s license.
That would allow elections officials to use licenses to check citizenship status, something Wyman said they have no way of doing now.
Her proposal came after questions were raised about the citizenship status of the man accused of fatally shooting five people at the Cascade Mall in Burlington last month.
The suspect, Arcan Cetin, voted in three elections since 2014. Authorities had initially described him as a legal, permanent U.S. resident. But KING 5 news later cited a federal official saying Cetin is a naturalized citizen.
Wyman is facing a tough re-election challenge from Democrat Tina Podlodowski, who attacked Wyman’s proposal as a Trump-like effort “intentionally inflaming anti-immigrant sentiments.”
Wyman defended her plan, saying it would bring Washington in compliance with a federal law requiring citizenship verification for driver’s licenses. Without such a fix, Washingtonians could soon find their licenses are no longer accepted for boarding commercial airplanes.
In the interview Monday, Wyman framed her proposal as one that would give the public more confidence in the election system.
But, she repeated that despite the suspicions of Trump supporters, “I do not think in our state we have a problem with ineligible voters voting.”