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'Protecting and defending the Constitution,' former Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman departs for federal election security job

Joseph O'Sullivan, The Seattle Times on

Published in News & Features

The selection of Wyman, a Republican elected official with extensive local and state election experience, said Masterson sends "the exact right message in this time of partisanship."

But the challenges are only growing steeper, said Masterson, now a nonresident policy fellow with the Stanford Internet Observatory at Stanford University. Election officials are struggling to counter the rise of disinformation and misinformation, which spreads far and quickly through social media platforms.

Meanwhile, concerted efforts to undermine faith in elections through baseless conspiracy theories — including by some Republicans and former President Donald Trump — present complicated challenges.

Along with the ongoing need for election security, said Masterson, election officials and CISA must now find ways to communicate and build trust with voters to demonstrate that elections are predominantly free of fraud.

"That's a harder challenge to be honest," said Masterson.

Washington's secretary of state supervises a variety of matters other than elections.

 

It oversees the registration of corporations and nonprofits, as well as both the state archives and the state library. The officeholder is also second in line — behind Washington's lieutenant governor — to succeed the governor.

Wyman counts as accomplishments an update of the agency's filing system for businesses and nonprofits, which until a few years ago still required people to file paperwork in Olympia.

She's also satisfied with her nearly decadelong quest to build a new state archives and libraries building, a project that is funded and now in the design phase: "I'm disappointed that I don't get to see that project through."

But since 2016, elections have become an increasingly dominant role. Wyman worked to create an elections cybersecurity operations center, which helped local election officials in Washington's 39 counties.

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