This year GSBA is extending our Candidate Forum programming to our blog and asking select races to answer a series of questions from our Public Policy Task Force. GSBA does not endorse candidates for office. Both candidates in this race have been sent an identical questionnaire with the exception of the final question.
Tina Podlodowski, running for Secretary of State
1. Voter participation is declining in Washington. What specifically can the office of Secretary of State do to re-engage the voting population?
Click here for Kim Wyman's responses to these questions.
The Secretary of State’s office needs to do so much more. My first act in office will be to perform a 39 county audit of the election system. Let’s identify who isn’t participating, and then use strategies that are designed to engage that particular population at the local level. For example, the Makah Tribe votes at 98% in tribal elections, 17% in statewide elections. Why? Lack of the drop box on the reservation, a problem they Identified 10 years ago and still hasn't been fixed. In my visits to all 39 Washington counties to talk to voters, I've collected hundreds of these stories. Let's fix these issues, and add in the "big" policy issues of postage-free ballots, same day registration, automatic voter registration, pre- registration for 16 and 17 year olds, and, finally, pass the Washington State Voting Rights Act.
2. Do you believe reforms are needed in the initiative and referendum process?
Yes, absolutely. When we started the initiative and referendum process in 1912, no one envisioned the rise of Tim Eyman, his billionaire backers, and his abuse of of the system. I would lead a joint review of the entire process with Attorney General Bob Ferguson and a bi-partisan panel to propose legislative fixes to the process (and if that fails, perhaps an initiative!).
3. How can the Secretary of State’s office streamline the permitting and licensing process for small businesses and nonprofits?
Start by implementing the one stop business portal that my opponent promised when she ran in 2012 and hasn't accomplished. This would bring the databases of SoS, Revenue, Licensing and L&I (to start) in one easy to use site. Then, I intend to propose a cross-agency LEAN process that includes paralegals and small business people (true "power users" of the systems) to create a work plan to systematically streamline various siloed processes, and fix out-of-date ones. Finally, let's bring some of the best and brightest together in out tech community to look at usability and user interfaces and how those impact diverse customer audiences.
4. Many of your strongest calls to action earlier this year were to cancel the late primary election and use the money saved to pre-pay postage on general election ballots. There are valid concerns about the expense of an effectively meaningless primary election, but the alternative caucus system has dramatically lower turnout and significant barriers to participation. Would your priority be to save the state money or to increase voter participation?
Both! First off, we've outgrown the caucus system and it should be retired. But our primary system is broken as well - we cancelled the 2004 and 2012 presidential primaries, and the August primary date for local and statewide races does not serve voters well.
In a year with a presidential primary, we spend $11.5M in taxpayer dollars twice, for the two different primaries (presidential and State). Let's look at both moving up (an earlier date) and combining into one election date - I am confident there's a solution that saves money, eliminates confusion, and increases turnout.