Experience (Max 500 characters)
After graduating from Georgetown, I worked for a decade as a defense intelligence analyst at the Pentagon. I then ran international offices of a Fortune 500 company in Russia and Ukraine. From 2004–2012, I was the Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations and Research Adviser at UW. In 2007, I was elected Port of Seattle Commissioner and re-elected in 2011. In 2012, I was elected to the WA House of Representatives, representing the 36th district, and was re-elected in 2014, 2016, and 2018.
Town where you live
Seattle (Ballard), Washington
I am proud of my career serving the public interest at local, state, federal, and international levels. I have more than 30 years of experience protecting our communities as a national security and defense intelligence expert.
I spent 9 years in federal civil service at the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, 12 years as a federal government contractor, 5 years as a local elected official at the Port of Seattle, and more than 15 years of service as a WA State employee at UW and as a state legislator.
I serve as State Representative for the 36th District, and have been re-elected in 2014, 2016, and 2018. Currently the House Finance Chair, I previously served as House Majority Floor Leader and Vice Chair, Technology and Economic Development Cmte.
For 7 years, I have served as a legislative delegate to the U.S.-Canadian Pacific NW Economic Region. I have co-chaired the bi-cameral State Aviation Caucus and currently co-chair the Governor's Maritime Blue Task Force.
My top priority is to ensure that Washington voters are ensured their right to vote, that their ballot will be counted, and that they believe that the election results are legitimate.
As a national security expert, I will secure our elections by working with local and national experts to establish a set of national election security standards. During the last legislative session, I prime sponsored legislation requiring an audit of new elections equipment, and I will build on this work to protect our elections from current and emerging threats.
I will be a champion for voter education and outreach, and I will fight to ensure our that several of our state’s recent voter access laws are actually being implemented correctly. For example, state law requires that a ballot drop-box be present for every 15,000 residents and that drop-boxes be present on every Native American reservation. These requirements have not been robustly monitored, and as Secretary of State, I will do so.
During the 2020 legislative session, I prime-sponsored legislation to require the state to reimburse counties for costs associated with state and federal elections, and requires every county to produce voter pamphlet statements. That legislation, which passed off the House floor with strong bipartisan support, included funding for local elections officials to conduct the most comprehensive voter education and youth civic engagement initiatives in decades. It would have required voter education and outreach to groups with historically low voter registration and participation. The Senate stripped the voter education and civic engagement funding out of the legislation, however, so as Secretary of State I will go back to the legislature and get this done.
Referenda and initiatives are vital parts of our state’s democracy, and serious fears about interpersonal contact, especially in public settings, will make it much more difficult to collect the necessary number of signatures for initiatives and referenda in a post-COVID world.
As a national security professional, I am concerned about the security risks posed by the submission of electronic signatures for initiatives. Until we can protect ourselves from bad actors online, my preference is for handwritten signatures, which can be verified after the fact. That said, I think there are things we can do to make submitting signatures easier during the current situation, such as providing forms online, which can be downloaded and mailed to the Secretary of State. Overall, the coronavirus has revealed that we need more thoughtful procedures in place for administering democracy during emergencies. As Secretary of State, I will work with stakeholders to implement such procedures.
There are too many Washington citizens who are eligible to vote but are not registered. As Secretary of State, I will concentrate on increasing the voter registration rates significantly. With vote-by-mail, free postage, ballot boxes, and online registration, there are very few technical barriers to registering to vote or returning ballots. Therefore, we need to explore the real reasons why people are not registering to vote and changing the status quo.
I will also seek to understand how local auditors are classifying the reasons for purging voter files in this state. During the past 8 years, more than 1 million voters have been purged, and the reason provided was "Other" (as opposed to "deceased", "moved", etc.) The Secretary of State's office should be working with the auditors to establish a plan to significantly reduce the use of the "other" category.
Ensuring the integrity of our elections will be my top priority as Secretary of State. I will work to set up a national commission to set performance standards for elections equipment. I will then work with the legislature to ensure that we have access to equipment and infrastructure that meets these standards. Furthermore, as a result of my HB 1251, elections equipment and elections-related systems will be required to undergo vulnerability testing at a federal or state public facility before the state may secure them. Finally, my proposed statewide audit will help us diagnose and plan for further risks to our election security. As this year has shown, we must be prepared for all manner of threats and challenges.
Washington's Public Records Act (PRA) is one of the primary reasons our state consistently receives the highest “clean government” ratings. I've had a front-row seat in adhering to and overseeing the implementation of the PRA, and we can strengthen our disclosure system in the following ways:
* Increase education about PRA and the Open Public Meetings Act for new candidates, elected officials, and local and state employees.
* Establish in statute that the state legislature must comply with the PRA. I voluntarily complied until House members were compelled to comply – the House now have staff and procedures to comply with public records requests.
* Continued legislative efforts to support the Public Disclosure Commission’s budget and technology infrastructure.
The Secretary of State, State Auditor, and State Legislature should establish a work group to discuss how we support PRA and open-government statutes going forward.
Experience (Max 500 characters)
Serving as Washington Secretary of State from 2013 – present; Thurston County Auditor, 2001 – 2013; Ten years serving as Thurston County Elections Manager and Assistant Recording Manager. Aspen Institute Rodel Fellow. National Co-Chair for the Overseas Voting Initiative and the National Voter Registration Day Committee; Circle of Advisors Co-Chair, Vote at Home Institute.
Town where you live
I started my 40-year public service career in the Recreation Department of the City of Lakewood, California as a referee and recreation leader. I continued to serve as a civilian training specialist overseas while my husband was deployed in the Army. When we moved to Washington, I started working in the Thurston County Auditor’s Office as the Assistant Recording Manager. This led to nearly 30-years working in elections as the County Elections Manager and County Auditor. This experience prepared me to serve as Washington Secretary of State since 2013.
One, keeping our state’s elections secure from foreign interference and election tampering while making voter registration and elections accessible for every eligible voter. I want to continue creating innovative solutions, like the statewide voter registration system that provides for secure and accessible same-day voter registration.
Two, continue making it easier to do business in Washington. Our modernization project has already saved businesses over $5.5 million each year in filing fees and I want to provide more cost-efficient service delivery for our corporations and charities customers.
Three, protecting our state’s history by completing the Library/Archives building project and improving access to our collections with expanded digitization of our collections. We have over 200 million archival records available online and we must protect the original records for generations to come.
In 2019 and 2020 legislative sessions, I requested an elections security bill to eliminate the electronic return of voted ballots for all voters. In partnership with the Washington League of Women Voters and cyber security experts, we worked hard to get the bill passed into law. Unfortunately, the bill did not get out of committee. This will be agency request legislation in the 2021 session.
I also plan to introduce legislation to bring back the unaffiliated option for voters in the Presidential Primary Election and require a security flap to cover the voter’s party preference on the back of the return envelope. I also plan to introduce legislation making the office of the Secretary of State nonpartisan on the ballot. These are important steps we can take to improve voter confidence in our elections.
The initiative and referenda process in Washington state is over 100 years old. While it has been criticized in recent years for either being archaic for requiring pen and ink signatures on paper or unfairly manipulated by paid signature gathering operations, the process largely operates in the manner of direct democracy the framers imagined. Many legislative ideas are introduced by filing initiatives or referenda, few qualify for the ballot, and fewer are passed into law. Technology has allowed us to streamline the petition signature verification process and make it much more efficient and effective.
During the Covid-19 pandemic response there have been questions raised about the ability of initiative sponsors to submit electronic petition signatures to the state during a time of social distancing. For this, I welcome a discussion on the merits and implications of electronic signature gathering for initiative and referenda.
Washington state has consistently been amongst the top 10 states in the country for voter registration and voter turnout. I am proud of the work we have done to build the most accessible and secure election system in our nation. We must continue to remove barriers to voting by reaching out to underserved communities to identify challenges and find innovative solutions to ensure every eligible person is able to register and vote.
For example, we have partnered with county auditors and tribal leaders to address challenges for voters in the indigenous population of our state. We have increased the number of ballot drop boxes located near or on tribal land. We have improved our ability to place voters into the correct voting precinct with GEO coded addressing to accommodate non-traditional addresses. Additionally, we have worked with tribal leaders to find locations for voters without reliable mail service to receive their ballots at locations like community centers.
By sharing our state’s election system, security measures, and improvements made over the past four years in cybersecurity with the public.
Since nation state actors scanned our voter registration system in 2016 looking for cyber vulnerabilities, Washington election officials at the state and county level have fortified our firewalls and monitoring systems. We developed and implemented a state-of-the-art voter registration and election management system that connects the 39 county election offices with the secretary of state in real time to provide increased security. We created the first in the nation Security Operations Center to support the cybersecurity of the entire statewide system and provide cybersecurity training and support to county election officials. This has all been in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and our own Washington National Guard.
Washington election officials have worked tirelessly to secure, protect, and defend our elections.
I am proud of Washington’s open records laws. The Secretary of State is responsible for preserving our state and local government historic documents by overseeing the state archives and state library. We manage state records, those transitory documents that are shredded or destroyed after a defined period, for state offices and agencies. The office operates a multi-state, regional federal documents collection. We ensure the public has access to all these public records by making them widely available for online and in-person inspection. Responsive customer service and accessible records are our top priorities.
The biggest challenges facing the state archives and state library are the lack of space and appropriate environmental conditions to ensure our precious history is preserved for generations to come. A collaborative, bipartisan effort between our office and the legislature to solve these challenges resulted in funding for a co-located facility set to break ground this year.