Archives For Voters For Tina

November 4, 2016
by Heidi Groover

Seattle, WA – Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman is in a competitive reelection contest this year. Her Democratic challenger, Tina Podlodowski, is seizing on today’s news. SECRETARY OF STATE’S OFFICE

As activists across Washington State were gathering signatures this spring for ballot measures to raise the minimum wage and restrict gun access, Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman was taking closed-door meetings with the National Restaurant Association and National Rifle Association, the New York Timesreports.

A Times investigation published today found that powerful lobbying groups are increasingly meeting with and donating to secretaries of state across the country to try to influence ballot initiatives. “The targeting of secretaries of state with campaign donations, corporate-funded weekend outings and secret meetings with industry lobbyists reflects an intense focus on often overlooked ballot questions, which the secretaries frequently help write,” the Times reports.

Here’s what the Times piece has to say about Wyman:

The influence campaign has intensified, with more citizen-driven ballot initiatives to be decided on Election Day this year than at any time in the past decade.

Secretaries of state from Washington, Ohio, Colorado and Nevada — all Republicans — participated in closed-door meetings in May with representatives from Reynolds American, the nation’s second-largest tobacco company; the National Restaurant Association; and the National Rifle Association, while ballot initiative signatures in those states were still being collected, documents obtained through open records requests show.

Minimum-wage advocates chastised Washington’s secretary of state, Kim Wyman, who is in the midst of a re-election campaign. She has benefited from a blitz of radio advertisements paid for by the Republican group that sponsored the May meetings with industry representatives. Ms. Wyman declined requests to comment.

(Go read the whole thing.)

While he didn’t comment directly on Wyman, former Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed implicitly criticized her behavior, telling the Times, “It is extremely important that the public trust their elections and have confidence they are going to be handled in a fair and impartial way. And ballot issues in particular are very sensitive.” Clarification: In an email, Reed said he was not criticizing Wyman. “I was referring to candidates, like [Wyman’s Democratic challenger] Tina Podlodowski, who take positions on potential ballot issues, e.g., gun control, abortion, and such,” Reed wrote. “I was also referring to candidates, like Tina Podlodowski, who say they will take positions on presidential candidates, like Florida’s Katherine Harris – and then oversee ballot access and the Electoral College.”

Wyman’s Democratic challenger, Tina Podlodowski, is already seizing on today’s news. At 11 am, Podlodowski plans to host a press conference along with advocates for the minimum wage and gun safety measures on this year’s ballot.

Wyman’s campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.

UPDATE: In a statement, Wyman called criticism about the meetings with lobbyists “just another breathless allegation by my opponent that has no factual evidence behind it.”

She dismissed allegations that the meetings influenced her treatment of ballot measures, including the minimum wage initiative on this fall’s ballot, because in Washington the secretary of state does not write ballot titles or pro/con statements and because that ballot measure easily qualified for the ballot.

“I challenge her to show any example—even one!—of a decision I have made or action I or my office has taken that shows any undue influence,” Wyman said. “She can’t. And the New York Times story would have, but it didn’t—because there isn’t any!”

In a press conference today, Podlodowski stopped short of making specific accusations about how the meetings affected Wyman’s decisions on any ballot measures. But she called for an investigation into Wyman’s treatment of initiatives and accused her of a “pattern” of these types of meetings.

David Rolf, president of Service Employees International Union 775, called the news “deeply troubling.” Teresa Mosqueda, political director at the Washington State Labor Council, said it “erodes the public trust.” (Both groups support the minimum wage initiative.)

“It’s the appearance of impropriety,” Mosqueda said.

When asked what was discussed at the meetings with the National Restaurant Association, National Rifle Association, and others, Wyman’s campaign told The Stranger in an email, “Sec. Wyman just answered questions about the initiative process in Washington, just as she does for any individual or group who wants to better understand how the process works here and how it differs from other states.”

Wyman has benefited financially from the Republican State Leadership Committee, the group that hosted the meetings reported on by the Times. The committee has spent about $67,500 on an independent expenditure supporting Wyman. Podlodowski accused Wyman of getting $105,000 from the group. That number is a bit muddled. Wyman didn’t received that cash directly from the committee. Podlodowski is combining the IE and donations to Wyman from the Washington State Republican Party. The state party has received money from corporations that have also given money to the Republican State Leadership Committee, according to emails published by the Times.

“You don’t get a $105,000 campaign contribution from a group like this just for having a meeting to explain the initiative process,” Podlodowski said. “You can look that up on Wikipedia.”

Podlodowski also repeated one of her central criticisms of Wyman, that while Wyman claims to be nonpartisan, she has close ties with the Republican party.

“She’s run away from being a Republican and Republican special interests,” Podlodowski said. “It’s really clear today that she maybe has been running from that in the public but behind scenes she’s been running… to the lobbyists.”

October 18th, 2016
by Stranger Election Control Board
Secretary of State

Tina Podlodowski

Tina Podlodowski

Since we first endorsed Tina Podlodowski in the August primary election, her opponent, Republican Kim Wyman, has started to look even sketchier. In addition to aligning herself with the same party being helmed by Racist Rapist* Cheeto Jesus, state attorney general Bob Ferguson’s office has received complaints that Wyman’s campaign may have violated state campaign-finance laws by repeatedly submitting disclosure reports past their due dates. Another strike against Wyman, who happens to be the only Republican currently holding statewide office: She opposed the Washington Voting Rights Act in 2012 and, according to the Seattle Times, did not weigh in on the bill in 2016, deciding to leave it up to the legislature instead. The bill, which would’ve repaired voting systems that don’t provide fair representation to minorities, failed for the fourth year in a row this year. Fuuuuuuck that. The Secretary of State’s primary job is to oversee elections, and Podlodowski, a former Seattle City Council member, says she would fight for postage-free ballots (YES!), same-day registration, and work to make sure the voices of people of color are heard through the electoral process. “If [supporting] the Voting Rights Act is not the job of the secretary of state,” asks Podlodowski, “then what the heck is?” Damn right. Vote Podlodowski.

The office of the Washington attorney general has filed a complaint against Secretary of State Kim Wyman, alleging that her re-election campaign missed campaign-finance deadlines. Wyman says it was a minor error and is being addressed.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office has filed a complaint against the re-election campaign of Secretary of State Kim Wyman, alleging that Wyman missed deadlines in filing campaign-finance reports.

The issue was first raised by the state Democratic Party, which filed a citizen’s complaint against Wyman, a Republican. Ferguson, a Democrat, has been recused from the issue, a release from his office said.

Wyman said the charge was “not unexpected” and called it “another step in the process to resolve the minor errors disclosed by our campaign.”

The complaint, filed Tuesday in Thurston County Superior Court, alleges that since 2013, Wyman’s campaign has repeatedly filed her campaign-finance reports late, and has collected donations that were then deposited into the campaign account late.

In May of this year the campaign filed 11 reports, totaling more than $30,000 in contributions, 10 days late.

Candidates are required to file monthly campaign-finance reports until five months before the general election, when they must file weekly reports.

Wyman had also filed late reports eight times in previous years, the complaint alleges. Those reports were anywhere from two days to nine months late.

Wyman had already self-reported the errors from this year, before Ferguson’s office received the complaint from state Democratic Party Chair Jaxon Ravens.

The state Public Disclosure Commission, which investigated those issues, wrote that they were “similar to those raised by hundreds of filers over the years.

“Very few of those instances have led to enforcement or to a complaint being filed,” PDC director Evelyn Fielding Lopez wrote.
Candidates are also required to deposit contributions within five days of receiving them. Wyman was late in depositing contributions several times since 2013, usually just by a few days, the complaint says.

Wyman said that a new employee was brought into the campaign to help with campaign-finance reports and there have been no issues since that change was made.

Wyman, who was first elected in 2012, is running for re-election against Democrat Tina Podlodowski.

David Gutman, Seattle Times staff reporter
September 19, 2016

Seattle, WA – Washington’s voter-turnout rate, which has lagged in recent years, is playing a major role in the race for secretary of state, with Democratic challenger Tina Podlodowski charging that Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman has not done enough to make it easier for people to cast a ballot.

The state has seen lower turnouts in recent years, and Wyman’s claim, on her website, that Washington leads the nation in voter registration is not accurate. But Podlodowski paints a misleading picture, comparing turnouts from elections that have little in common.

Studies show the solutions she proposes — many of which Wyman also supports — would lead to more people voting, but most could not be done solely by the secretary of state and would require changes from the Legislature.

Both candidates are strong supporters of Washington’s 5-year-old all-mail voting system. Evidence is mixed on the long-term effects of all-mail voting, but one recent study estimated it boosted turnout in Washington by 2 to 4 percentage points. The race to be Washington’s chief elections officer could be the most competitive statewide contest this fall — Wyman won the primary by less than 2 points — with Podlodowski aiming to end a 52-year Republican grip on the office.

Podlodowski is a former Microsoft executive and Seattle City Council member with no experience overseeing elections. She has raised more than $510,000, about $65,000 more than Wyman, a former Thurston County auditor and elections manager finishing her first term as secretary of state.

That difference is mostly attributable to a major edge in dollars from out of state for Podlodowski.

The secretary of state supervises and certifies state and local elections, registers businesses and charities and runs the state library and archives.

Wyman calls elections administration “my career and chosen profession.” She would like to move Washington’s presidential primary earlier in the voting season and touts accomplishments like making it easier for special-needs voters to vote and providing election information in multiple formats and languages.

Podlodowski has campaigned on a more aggressive platform of changes to Washington’s voting system.

Podlodowski launched her campaign in January with a video showing a plunging line graph, superimposed over Wyman’s picture, with voter turnout decreasing from 81 percent in 2012 to 38 percent in 2015.

That’s not a fair comparison. In 2012 Washington voters chose a president, a governor and a senator. In 2015, they voted on five tax initiatives and penalties for selling endangered species.

“I didn’t fault Washington at all for having a low turnout; people have to have a reason to vote,” said Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida who runs the U.S. Elections Project that tracks historical election data. “If there aren’t particularly competitive races at the top of the ballot, that’s going to drive turnout much more than some of these changes.”

Elections are mostly not comparable to one another; turnout in presidential years is higher than in midterm years, which, in turn, are higher than in off-year elections. Even among similar elections, turnout varies based on factors like whether there’s a competitive U.S. Senate or gubernatorial race on the ballot, or a high-profile initiative.

But turnout in off-year elections (held in odd-numbered years) has declined since 2011, setting a record-low last year. Turnout statewide dropped from 53 percent in 2011, to 45 percent in 2013 and 39 percent last year.

Wyman says that’s part of a national trend. She said Washington still had higher turnouts than most places.

“You guys are doing pretty good on turnout,” McDonald said. “You could be doing better, but you’re doing pretty good.”

Still, Wyman’s claim on her website that “Washington state leads the nation in voter registration, security and elections innovation” is not accurate. Washington ranked 15th in the percentage of its eligible citizens who were registered to vote in 2014, according to census estimates, and 24th in 2012.

Podlodowski wants an audit of the election systems in each of the state’s 39 counties to look for obstacles that may be keeping people from voting.

“There are two pillars of what I believe the office is about, which is 100 percent of the people who are eligible being registered and 100 percent of those people voting,” Podlodowski said.

Wyman, who supervised elections in Thurston County and was county auditor for 20 years before becoming secretary of state, often talks more about the successful administration of elections than big changes to the system.

She frequently tells a story of how, when she and her husband lived in Germany, where he was stationed with the Army, they received their absentee ballots the day after the election.

“It’s easy to take shots at performance and be critical of an office; it’s difficult to do the work,” Wyman said at a recent forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Washington.

Academic studies show that the changes that Podlodowski advocates — same-day voter registration, preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds and prepaid ballot return envelopes — would encourage more people to vote.

But most, if not all, could not be implemented without a bill from the Legislature.

Youth preregistration

You have to be 18 to vote, but in most states you don’t have to be 18 to register to vote. Twenty-eight states have some form of preregistration, which lets teenagers register in advance of their 18th birthday. In Washington, you can register if you’ll be 18 by the next election.

Podlodowski would like to let 16- and 17-year-olds preregister and thinks she could make the change administratively, without action from the Legislature.

Wyman wants preregistration, but just for 17-year-olds, and clearly does not think it’s a change she can make on her own — she asked the Legislature for a bill to change it earlier this year. That bill made little progress.

A 2010 study of voters in Florida and Hawaii — both of which let 16-year-olds register — found that preregistration, combined with outreach programs, increased turnout among young voters by about 2 percentage points and that those who preregister are more likely to vote over several election cycles.

Same-day registration

Currently 16 states allow same-day voter registration — letting you register and vote all in one trip.

Podlodowski wants Washington to join those states, many of which lead the nation in registration. Wyman does not. She thinks same-day registration would put too much stress on Election Day officials.

Podlodowski’s campaign said options in Washington — which doesn’t have Election Day polling places — could include same-day registration at a county auditor’s office or at election-day voting centers in each county.

A 2014 study by Demos, a progressive think tank, found that voter turnout in presidential years is consistently about 10 points higher in states with same-day registration than in states without.

Several other studies show a boost in voter turnout of about 5 percentage points after states implement same-day registration.

Prepaid postage

Three states — Washington, Oregon and Colorado — vote entirely by mail.

But a lot of voters don’t return their ballots by mail; they deposit them in a drop box.

Nearly 40 percent of Washington voters dropped their ballot off at a drop box in 2014 rather than by mail, according to data from the Survey of the Performance of American Elections.

Nearly 35 percent of those voters who used a drop box did so to save money on stamps, the survey found.

A bill to offer prepaid postage for returning ballots went nowhere in the Legislature last year. Wyman’s office said at the time that she supported the bill in theory but had concerns about cost and the ability to accurately postmark the return ballots (prepaid postage is not normally postmarked and ballots must be postmarked by Election Day to be counted).

The state Office of Financial Management estimated it would cost between $2 million and $3 million per two-year budget cycle to offer prepaid postage.

Seattle, WA – After a 52-year reign of Republican control, the office of Washington Secretary of State has to it a feeling of entitlement.

“This is my career, my chosen profession,” Secretary of State Kim Wyman, the fifth in a dynasty of centerist Republicans to hold the job, told a League of Women Voters forum Monday at Seattle First Baptist Church.

Democratic challenger Tina Podlodowski is mounting a head-on challenge to how the Secretary of State’s office conducts its chief business, which is running elections.

She argues that the office has become lethargic at registering new voters in a state where 1.5 million eligible citizens are eligible but not registered. She champions such ideas as same-day registration, or registering 16 and 17-year-olds as they get their drivers licenses.

Podlodowski has lately embarrassed the incumbent.  In a letter last week to the state’s chief information security officers, she revealed a design flaw in the state’s voter database.

The undiscovered, four-year-old flaw allowed a computer savvy person to have back door access to voters’ email addresses, cell phone numbers, ballot delivery types and coding used to reach military and overseas voters.

Podlodowski detailed how to break in in her letter.  The information security officer informed Wyman’s office, which corrected the design flaw.

Wyman downplayed the design flaw and information it made available.  “This was not a breach of cyber security like a Social Security number or credit card,” she told the LWV forum.

Washington is a vote by mail pioneer, but elections now have so many choices that two stamps will be required to mail in Snohomish County ballots in November.

The Wyman-Podlodowski contest has centered on those who are not voting, and declines in voter participation.  The Secretary of State’s office has “reached out to all those 1.5 million unregistered voters,” Wyman argued on Monday night.

The incumbent has not done enough, countered Podlodowski, and that many Washingtonians are left out.  “It’s the young people,” she said, “people of color, women and people earning less than $50,000 a year.”

The backgrounds of the candidates define them.  Wyman is the status quo.  She is a former Thurston County Auditor, protege and chosen successor of her predecessor Sam Reed.  She has garnered bipartisan endorsements from county auditors around the state.

Podlodowski was an early “Microsoft millionaire” who went on to serve a term on the Seattle City Council.  She backed Seattle Mayor Ed Murray in 2013, and played an important role in the startup of his administration.

A key issue in the Secretary of State race — the Washington Voting Rights Act.

The act would set out procedures to peacefully resolve civil rights disputes in places like Pasco, where a majority of citizens are Hispanic but an at-large election system denies them representation in local government.

The city of Yakima incurred more than $3 million in legal expenses, fighting against adoption of district elections to its City Council.

Fellow Republicans have done Wyman no favors.  The Secretary of State insists that she has “worked consistently” on the voting rights act, and “we will be working on it in 2017.”  But the legislation has been kept from a vote by the Republican majority in the Washington State Senate.

“You have to walk the talk,” countered Podlodowski, arguing that Wyman has not not aggressively campaigned for reform.  “The party that has stopped this for the past four years is Republican,” she added.

The Republicans are getting very, very nervous about the Secretary of State contest. Wyman is a rising star in the party.  Yet, Podlodowski has raised $510,475 to $445,531 for Wyman:  The challenger has an advantage in cash-on-hand, according to Public Disclosure Commission filings.

State Republican Chairman Susan Hutchison was borderline apocalyptic at the GOP’s fall dinner last week, warning that Republicans will “never win another election” if Podlodowski is elected in November.

Seattle, WA – A yawning back-end pathway into the state’s voter registration database, through which private information could have been accessed, has been closed, thanks to the candidate challenging Secretary of State Kim Wyman.

“Anyone with basic programming skills and knowledge about these weaknesses could conceivably (access) this data, look up and harvest private data from millions of Washingtonians,” Tina Podlodowski wrote Wednesday to the state’s chief information security officer (CISO).

The information accessible via the back-end pathway included voters’ personal cell phone numbers, personal email addresses, ballot delivery types, and the coding used to message military and overseas voters.

Wyman’s office, without mentioning Podlodowski, put out a release Friday, saying:  “The situation has been quickly rectified.”

David Ammons, chief communications office for the secretary of state, later confirmed that the problem was first identified in a letter from Podlodowski.

In writing to the security officer, Podlodowski laid out, in her words, “Step-by-Step: How to view illegally posted MyVote personal information about any registered voter in WA.”  The navigation to “personally sensitive information prohibited by law from disclosure” was done in 11 easy steps.

Agnes Kirk, the CISO, wrote to thank Podlodowsi on Friday, saying:  “The Secretary of State’s office took immediate action to prevent the information from being accessible any longer . . . Thank you again for following the industry standard for responsible disclosure of a potential cyber security issue and helping keep the citizens data safe.”

Instead of Podlodowski, the secretary of state’s office thanked Agnes Kirk.

Podlodowski, late Friday, expressed incredulity that Wyman and her office were ignorant of a back-door access problem that “was there since 2012.”

“The breach was real and hopefully fixed,” she added.  “However, (Wyman) should submit to a full cyber audit done by the cyber security officer (which is outside the secretary of state’s office) and not just rely on her own people.

“Voters need to be assured by an outside party that data is safe. … Can we trust our data is safe, with ballots ready to go to overseas and military voters?  No, we cannot — not without an outside audit.”

The secretary of state is Washington’s chief elections official.

Elected in 2012, Wyman is Washington’s lone Republican to hold statewide office.  The GOP has held onto the office for 52 years.  A former Microsoft executive, who served a term on the Seattle City Council, Podlodowski is the Democrats’ strongest-ever challenger for the job.

Wyman’s office  explained the problem in computer lingo, saying that “some voter information” in the MyVote lookup tool “has been accessible through development code that should not have been.”

MyVote is an online tool that permits voters to register and update their registration information, discover ballot dropbox location, access the online voters’ guide and see personalized information on issues and election races.

Wyman’s office downplayed the significance of the vulnerability.

“We want to make it clear that this was neither a security breach nor a hack of the voter system,” said the secretary of state’s release.  “Also, no otherwise protected personally identifiable information, such as Social Security or driver’s license numbers, was ever accessible.”

Unusual for a release out of her office, Wyman’s name was not mentioned and she was not personally quoted.

Despite reassurances, the loophole made data accessible far beyond the bounds set down by state law.  The law sets and defines limits on what can be made available:

“The following information contained in voter registration records or files regarding a voter or a group of voters is available for public inspection, except as provided in RCW 40.24.060:

“The voter’s name, address, political jurisdiction, gender, date of birth, voting record, date of registration and registration number.  No other information from voter registration records or files is available for public inspection or copying.”

Citing the law, Podlodowski stated:  “This is serious.  I believe she (Wyman) is underselling scope, dramatically.”