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.
Secretary of State Kim Wyman
1. Voter participation is declining in Washington. What specifically can the office of Secretary of State do to re-engage the voting population?
Washington currently leads the national average in voter turnout. Voter turnout is on the decline nationally, but Washington’s turnout is consistently above the national average. As Secretary of State, my office has been working to engage voters in multiple ways. We work with youth education program that engage K-12 and college students in our state’s history and government, and help them develop an interest in civics. I also have pushed for bills in the legislature that would increase voter engagement, like automatic voter registration and pre-registration for 17-year-olds. These solutions would increase voter participation in Washington.
2. Do you believe reforms are needed in the initiative and referendum process?The initiative and referendum process continues to work as the framers intended over 100 years ago. Many petitions are filed, few qualify for the ballot and even fewer become law. It’s incredibly important to defend people’s right to file an initiative, which was designed as a ‘relief valve.’ We’ve seen many important initiatives in recent years. Any restriction made against one person’s ability to file initiatives can be used against any other person. For that reason, I would be very careful before advocating to restrict anyone’s right to file or sign an initiative or referendum.
3. How can the Secretary of State’s office streamline the permitting and licensing process for small businesses and nonprofits?
My office has completed the upgrade necessary to start a one stop portal for businesses in Washington and we will be installing this fall. We will continue working with other state agencies (as opposed to government agencies) to simplify business filings, including creating a portal to connect our office to other filing agencies, like the Department of Revenue.
Once online, this portal will cut down on wait time and allow business owners to handle all of their permitting needs in one place. My office has also streamlined the permitting process for small businesses and charities, reducing wait times from weeks to days or even hours. I’m proud of the work we’ve done in my first term.
4. With the recent discovery of privacy lapses in the state’s voting system, how is your office working to secure voters’ personal information?
We have successfully defended Washington’s elections against cyberattacks. My office has worked closely with both federal departments and county election offices across the state to ensure our system is safe. While there was a small design flaw in our online registration system, no sensitive voter information was ever exposed, nor was the system hacked. Our elections are secure, and my office has been working for quite some time with local, state, and federal agencies to ensure that voters’ personal information is secure.
My office has been working with the Department of Homeland Security to identify potential weaknesses and threats, and to develop responses. Additionally, my office regularly consults with experts on cybersecurity to make sure we are anticipating attacks, not merely defending against them.
Click here for Tina Podlodowski's responses to these questions.