When they choose a new secretary of state on Nov. 7, Washington voters will replace a man who became an institution. Fortunately, voters have two excellent candidates to fill the vacancy that will occur with Ralph Munro’s retirement after 20 years in office.
Republican Sam Reed is the better choice for a post that oversees the state’s elections. Reed, who is Thurston County’s auditor, has a depth of recent experience with running elections that can’t be matchsed.
Reed’s Democratic opponent is Don Bonker, a former member of Congress. Bonker also served early in his political career as the Clark County auditor in Vancouver, overseeing local elections. In recent years, he has become an expert in international trade, heading a Seattle company.
Both men have thought seriously about the election challenges facing the state. They have good ideas on how to make voting as convenient as possible and how to change our primary voting system to conform with a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling. They’re both enthusiastic about the challenges and capable of managing well. Each is worthy of the trust that must be placed in the person who oversees elections.
As a county auditor for more than 20 years, Reed has remained closer to the changes being made in elections. That experience will be an advantage in working with counties around the state on administering elections and improving balloting and registration processes for the public. This May, Thurston County conducted the state’s first experiment with voting via the Internet, which could strengthen democracy if adequate safeguards are developed. Most voters apparently liked the experiment.
Both candidates appear committed to protecting the rights of independents to take some part in primary voting. It is hard to tell any substantial differences between their views, but Reed does seem just a bit more open to Louisiana’s style of primary voting. There, the top two primary vote-getters advance to the general election ballot, regardless of party affiliation. If nothing else, his attitude might put a healthy bit more fear into the hearts of the Democratic and Republican parties, who are forcing the public to abandon a beloved form of primary voting.
With either choice, voters can be confident of good results. Reed’s continuous dedication to work on elections, however, gives a slight edge to the Republican.
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