Wyman the right choice

Since 1980, Washington citizens have been served by two outstanding secretaries of state — Ralph Munro and Sam Reed — both moderate Republicans who established a nonpartisan tradition and high standards for the office, whose main function is to oversee state and local elections. It was Reed who oversaw the oh-so-tight recounts in the 2004 gubernatorial race between Gov. Christine Gregoire and Dino Rossi.

Fortunately, Washington citizens have an easy choice to continue the hard-earned trust and reputation the office has gained by electing someone in the very mold of Munro and Reed. Kim Wyman, currently Thurston County’s auditor, more than ably meets the high bar set by the previous two secretaries of state, and wants to continue and build on Reed’s work, in his nonpartisan way.

Wyman’s long list of across-the-board, bipartisan endorsements (from the Washington Education Association to 44 former and current county auditors) is testimony to Wyman’s experience, skills, and no-nonsense approach and knowledge of the issues and election law, and her understanding of the office.

Wyman has successfully conducted more than 80 elections in Thurston County, after becoming involved in politics more than 20 years ago when she and her husband didn’t receive ballots while serving overseas. Her earnestness on the subject of voter access is genuine, but tempered by reason.

Wyman’s equally earnest opponent, Kathleen Drew, a former state senator, is to be commended for her goal to increase voter participation. However, one of her top ideas to achieve that end — pushing for same-day voter registration — is simply untenable, in the bipartisan opinion of reasonable people.

Drew’s vow to oppose efforts to suppress voting assumes that such efforts are taking place in this state, of which there is no evidence. Which is not to say that voter participation doesn’t need serious improvement, it does. But the implication that voters are being suppressed is a divisive assumption, an unnecessary approach to the problem.

Wyman, on the other hand, helped streamline voting and ballot counting in Thurston County — achieving improved ballot delivery for military and overseas voters — and stands ready to apply the same strategies to state races.

The secretary of state also acts as the state’s archivist, preserving documents and historical artifacts. Toward this end, Sam Reed, with bipartisan support, started the Heritage Center collection in Olympia, with original plans for its own building stalled by the recession. Despite a bill authorizing its construction, Drew opposes a new building, while Wyman argues that the point is not just storage of the state’s history, but making all historic documents and artifacts accessible to citizens — at the capitol in Olympia and online.

The Herald editorial board strongly endorses Kim Wyman for secretary of state.