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Focus Area

Remove partisanship from election administration

To trust election results, we must trust the people administering them and we should shield them from partisan influence.

We also need to involve more citizens – who aren’t partisans  in the oversight of elections. As Secretary of State, I will:

Champion legislation to designate the Secretary of State as a nonpartisan office.

Push to make it easier for local election officials to be unaffiliated with political parties.

Create a nonpartisan election observer corps.

Limit the Secretary of State’s involvement with campaigns and political parties.

Allow independent voters to participate in the publicly financed Presidential Preference Primary.


Designate the Secretary of State as a nonpartisan office

As your Secretary of State, I will petition the Legislature to adopt a change in state law to designate the Secretary of State position – by law – as nonpartisan.

A partisan Secretary of State is neither compatible with the duties of the office, nor with oversight of fair elections. The public – and the respective political parties – must trust the process. Passionate, devoted, and often well-meaning Democrats and Republicans will not trust the intentions of a Secretary of State that doesn’t belong to their respective party. Eliminating perceptions that are implicit with belonging to a political party will help to restore and increase public trust in the outcomes of elections. Nothing is more important to the democratic process and our country.  

Make it easier for local election officials to be unaffiliated with political parties

According to a report from Election Reformers Network and the Bipartisan Policy Center, at least 60% of America’s local election officials – like Washington’s County Auditors – enter office with ties to a political party. And, extreme partisans are mobilizing to control as many of these positions as possible. 

Your local elected County Auditor is responsible for managing elections within your county. They do the hard work of ensuring you receive your ballot and vote is counted and that security controls are in place. Just like the Secretary of State, this is a critically important job and voters should be able to change their Auditor more easily from a partisan office to a nonpartisan office. 

At this time, six of Washington’s 39 county auditors / director of elections run as nonpartisans because their county charters designate the offices as nonpartisan.  The legislature should pass a law to allow for a local option to make even more election officials run as nonpartisan candidates.

Create a Nonpartisan Election Observer Corps

Political parties aren’t the only ones who care are 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.

Limit the Secretary of State’s involvement with campaigns and political parties

The Secretary of State being a designated nonpartisan office will not be enough to build public trust if they still support candidates or promote a political party. As Secretary of State, I will further separate election officials from party influence by promoting a Code of Conduct that would limit the Secretary of State’s political involvement with campaigns and political parties.

Allow independent voters to participate in the publicly financed Presidential Preference Primary.

Every four years, voters get to express their preferences to the Republican and Democratic parties about who should be the presidential nominees of each party. The Democratic and Republican parties are private organizations that maintain control over their nomination processes. The state can’t force them to abide by the results of the primary, the parties get to create their own oaths, etc. State law requires voters to declare a party preference to vote, and information regarding a voter’s party preference is public.

The Presidential Preference Primary is funded by the state’s general fund and costs between $11 million to $14 million. I oppose using public funds to conduct the business of private organizations when the activity explicitly prohibits the participation of unaffiliated voters.
I respect the constitutionally protected “right of association” of the political parties. They should absolutely be able to manage their affairs and their membership as they see fit. But not on the public dime, when 30-40% of the public is denied access.I support legislation that will:

  • Empower voters who don’t affiliate with the Democratic and Republican parties to cast a vote in the Presidential Preference Primary.
  • Allow the Democratic and Republican parties to either use or ignore those independent votes.
  • Require election officials to count and report the votes of Democratic, Republican, and nonpartisan voters.