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Focus Area

Improve election security and transparency

To have a trustworthy democracy, voters need to believe the system is fair and secure.

I have over 12 years of experience securing our elections as Pierce County’s auditor. As Secretary of State, I will:

Enhance election security.

Promote election transparency.

Ensure that every county is resilient and ready for emergencies.

Combat false information and make trusted sources easy to identify.

Enhance election security

As the only state and nationally certified election administrator in the race and as Pierce County Auditor, I’m the only candidate with hands-on experience managing election security. I know what must be done as Secretary of State to enhance election security. 

As Pierce County Auditor, I completed a Department of Homeland Security Infrastructure Security and Resilience Assessment in 2019, as well as an External Dependencies Assessment in 2021. Our office is also an active member of EI-ISAC (Elections Infrastructure Information Sharing Analysis Center). My hands-on experience is critical to providing the support our 39 counties need.

As Secretary of State, I will:

  • Conduct risk limiting audits for state measures or races.
  • Design standards and identify sources for independent air gap testing.
  • Expand penetration testing and ensure that testing consistently occurs.
  • Develop procedures and adopt rules for hash checks on election software.

Conduct risk limiting audits for state measures or races

Long before it was required by law, Pierce County voluntarily conducted random post-election audits for every election. The audits are open public meetings which have an active role for both political parties. 

Today, all counties conduct random post-election audits. These audits compare batches of paper ballots with machine results. Random batch audits are very good. However, Washington should add a risk limiting audit of a randomly selected statewide race and draw statistically valid samples in each county. The sample of randomly selected ballots would be sufficient to determine if an election outcome could be changed by a scanning error or tampering.

Design standards and identify sources for independent air gap testing

Currently, each county is expected to take steps to ensure that its tabulation equipment is not and cannot be connected to the internet.  However, there is no verification that this is happening, and no standardized methods are in use.  As Secretary of State, I will establish strong methodology for air gap verification, regularize this process, and ensure that election observers are involved.

Expand penetration testing and ensure that testing consistently occurs 

Penetration testing simulates a cyberattack on computer systems. The simulation helps discover opportunities for exploitation and test IT security. Currently, the Department of Homeland Security provides free penetration testing for county election systems. However, the waiting list is two years long, and few counties have taken advantage of the service. As Secretary of State, I will work with county governments, as well as industry and academics to create a resource list of authorized independent vendors qualified to conduct penetration testing and ensure that every county receives this important security process testing.

Develop procedures and adopt rules for hash checks on election software

A cryptographic hash is a digital fingerprint originated by a mathematical function in a computer program. Even the smallest change to the computer program will change the hash value. The hash value is, therefore, a unique fingerprint for any program.

Currently, only two or three counties conduct hash checks as part of their required Logic & Accuracy Testing. And, there are no published procedures for how to conduct and document a hash check.

As Secretary, I will create procedures for hash checks and ensure that each county conducts a public hash check prior to each election and again before any election is certified. 

Promote election transparency

Free and fair elections are foundational to our country, and as Pierce County’s chief elections administrator—County Auditor—I take that very seriously.

In my 12 years managing elections in Washington’s second largest county, I have worked hard to increase trust in our elections. 

As Secretary of State, I will: 

  • Create a Nonpartisan Election Observer Corps.
  • Create a public review of anonymized, voted ballots.

Create a Nonpartisan Election Observer Corps 

Political parties aren’t the only ones who care about elections. That’s why as Pierce County Auditor, I created room for independent election observers in addition to political party observers. Political party observers have a narrow focus and a partisan agenda.

Washington needs more citizen observation with broader, public interests. 

As Secretary of State, I will develop an election observation program staffed by nonpartisan volunteers who have subject matter expertise in technology, law, accounting, database management, and statistics, and who are trained and coordinated by the Secretary of State. The development and evaluation of the nonpartisan observer corps program would be overseen by a bipartisan and nonpartisan advisory board.

The nonpartisan observer corps would observe election operations and review voter registration records.

To incentivize election observation, continuing education and certification credits can be provided for attorneys, accountants, and IT professionals. Likewise, academic credit could be given in apprenticeship programs and college courses.

Create a public review of anonymized, voted ballots

In the past, Washington’s counties used “optical” tabulation equipment that read marks on a paper ballot via a laser scan. Today, all counties use equipment which creates a digital image of a paper ballot and records the marks. This digital equipment is far more accurate and creates superior audit documentation should a ballot need to be resolved due to a voter error or question of voter intent. 

Election officials receive many requests from election skeptics wanting to view voted ballots and see documentation of how ballots are resolved. With today’s technology, it is possible to make ballots (but not the voter’s identity) and the adjudication process viewable. Maryland and Utah allow this. However, the Secretary of State of Washington holds the position that ballot images and cast vote records may not be revealed to the public. As Secretary of State, I will convene election officials, security experts, and technologists to explore how we can make our elections more transparent without compromising voter privacy or election security. 

Ensure that every county is resilient and ready for emergencies.

Disaster preparedness, vulnerability assessments, and continuity of operations.

Every county needs to be prepared for many challenges—from mundane events like a ballot supplier running out of paper or a road project cutting internet to the building – to the extreme scenarios like a terrorist attack or major earthquake.

As Secretary of State, I will initiate simplified – but regular – exercises and drills to help counties anticipate these incidents and be prepared to deliver essential services under any condition.

Combat false information and make trusted sources easy to identify

Misinformation is false, but not created or shared with the intention of causing harm.

Disinformationis deliberately created to mislead, harm, or manipulate a person, social group, organization, or country by foreign adversaries and domestic terrorists to sow division and undermine democracy. 

In the United States, federal security and law enforcement agencies are fully engaged in monitoring, detection, and investigation of disinformation.

To lessen the impact of misinformation and disinformation, as Secretary of State I will: 

  • Lead efforts to improve civic education.
  • Support educators and organizations to teach critical thinking.
  • Partner with civic organizations and schools to teach media literacy.
  • Collaborate with federal agencies to help them detect election misinformation and disinformation.

As Secretary, to combat misinformation. I will: 

  • Develop education materials that better-explain Washington’s elections process and the steps taken to ensure accurate, fair outcomes. 
  • Initiate a cohesive statewide communication program that supports all 39 counties. 
  • Stand-up a real-time rumor control program that is centralized and dynamically updated. 

Each county has unique needs and disparate resources but must respond to similar information challenges. I will ensure each county has the resources they need to act when needed.