Washington laws aim to detect cyber attacks and protect election workers  | Jerry Cornfield/News From The States

Washington state is implementing new laws to safeguard election workers and enhance the security of ballot counting ahead of the 2024 campaign season. One law increases penalties for harassing election officials, while another mandates certain security measures on election equipment and allows the Secretary of State to certify results in specific situations. A third law aims to reduce rejected ballots by improving voter signature protections and standardizing ballot return envelope designs. Read Article

Washington Governor Signs Three Elections Bills | Matt Cohen/Democracy Docket

Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed three election-related bills into law last week aimed at facilitating voting and enhancing election security. These bills, introduced at the request of Secretary of State Steve Hobbs, expand the ease of certifying elections, maintain voter registration information, and introduce security measures against cyber hacking and election interference. Senate Bill 5843 allows the secretary of state to certify election results in counties where canvassing boards refuse to do so without reason, while House Bill 1962 eliminates the requirement for voters moving within the state to re-register. Another bill, Senate Bill 6269, initiates a pilot program for counties to test new options for signature verification on ballots, addressing concerns about the error-prone nature of current verification methods. Read Article

Washington lawmakers advance bill making it a felony to threaten election workers | Hallie Golden/Associated Press

The Washington state Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill making harassing election workers a felony, prompted by recent incidents, including envelopes containing suspicious powder, some testing positive for fentanyl, which forced the evacuation of four county election offices. The legislation aims to protect election workers amid rising threats, attributed to false claims about the 2020 election. The bill increases penalties for harassment and provides targeted workers with address confidentiality. Read Article

Washington state braces for deepfakes ahead of 2024 elections | Dyer Oxley/KUOW

Washington state’s Secretary of State, Steve Hobbs, is warning voters to remain vigilant against artificial intelligence and deepfakes as the 2024 elections intensify. The caution follows recent robocalls in New Hampshire mimicking President Biden’s voice, urging voters to skip the primary. Hobbs, anticipating potential frauds as the state’s March 12 primary approaches, emphasizes the need for vigilance and skepticism, urging voters to verify information from trusted sources. Washington passed new election laws in 2023 addressing AI, deepfakes, and misinformation, making it one of the first states to prohibit the use of “synthetic media” in campaigns, with a requirement for reporting false or manipulated media usage. Read Article

Washington House backs tougher penalties for threatening election workers | Jerry Cornfield/Washington State Standard

Washington lawmakers renewed their push Thursday to increase criminal penalties for harassment of election workers. The state House of Representatives, on an 86-11 vote, approved House Bill 1241 to make it a class C felony for a person to threaten election officials with injury through words or conduct. Today, such behavior carries a lesser penalty of a gross misdemeanor. The same bill cleared the House on a 90-7 vote last session but lapsed in the Senate. It is expected to receive a hearing in the Senate in early February. Read Article

Washington GOP fights secretary of state’s effort to track election misinformation | Jim Brunner/The Seattle Times

The Washington State Republican Party has filed a formal complaint against Secretary of State Steve Hobbs, accusing him of violating the constitution and his oath of office by contracting British artificial intelligence company Logically for nearly $273,000 to monitor social media for harmful narratives and threats related to Washington elections. The GOP claims the effort amounts to “political surveillance,” allowing Hobbs to suppress free speech on a massive scale. Hobbs defends the contract, stating that the posts being monitored are public, rejecting claims of suppressing free speech, and emphasizing the importance of countering misinformation. Read Article

Washington: For the second year in a row, three counties reportedly go against state election security suggestion | Ellen Dennis/The Spokesman-Review

A week before elections, Washington state election officials are struggling to persuade three counties to implement a security device called an Albert sensor, which uses artificial intelligence to monitor network traffic for suspicious activity. While 36 out of 39 counties have installed the Albert sensor, Grant, Ferry, and Lincoln counties have not, citing concerns about its effectiveness and cost. The Secretary of State has expressed worry about these counties ignoring state and federal advice regarding the sensors, emphasizing that they are the Homeland Security standard for internet security. The sensors, created by the Center for Internet Security, do not block threats but send alerts when suspicious activity is detected. Read Article

Washington: King County bolsters election security amid intimidation to workers nationwide | Michelle Esteban/KOMO

Election workers across the United States, including those in King County, are facing unprecedented levels of intimidation, with reported threats and harassment causing some workers to leave their jobs. The rise of misinformation since 2020 has contributed to this hostile environment, leading election administrators to take enhanced safety measures for the 2024 presidential election. In…

Washington: A Pair of Election Deniers Are Running To Take Over County Election Offices | Cameron Joseph/Bolts

Robert Sutherland and Doug Basler, both Republicans, are running against nonpartisan election administrators in an attempt to gain control of two major county election offices in Washington state. Their campaigns are elevating false claims about the election system, which could contribute to a hostile environment for election workers and undermine voters’ trust in the fairness of elections. Despite being long shots to win, their candidacies could increase the risk of harassment faced by election workers. Basler has questioned the integrity of the voting system and advocated for hand-counting paper ballots, while Sutherland has promoted conspiracy theories and expressed distrust in the election system. The ongoing candidacies of candidates like Basler and Sutherland contribute to the challenges faced by election administrators. Read Article

Washington elections bill ‘more likely to cause insurrection’ | TJ Martinell/The Center Square

Washington Governor Jay Inslee has signed Senate Bill 5459 into law, which restricts public access to records regarding ballots and the election system, claiming it will enhance election security. The bill exempts cast ballots from public records requests and centralizes all local records requests with the Secretary of State’s office. Critics argue that the legislation is a significant overreaction to public records requests made after the 2020 election and lacks legitimate justification for keeping this information secret. They express concerns that the bill reduces transparency, erodes trust in elections, and undermines the importance of open access to information. Read Article

Washington worries as election deniers target the U.S. voter database | Joseph O’Sullivan/Crosscut

In 2012, Washington and several other states helped form a nonprofit to help clean voter rolls and improve the accuracy of voter registration nationwide. Since then, the Electronic Registration Information Center, known as ERIC, has allowed participating states to share and match voter data in an effort to tamp down fraud. That valuable system, which helped the Secretary of State’s Office update more than 175,000 Washington voter records last year, is about to have its legs cut off. Election deniers are dragging the low-key and low-profile work into the morass of attacks on voting systems and election integrity after former President Donald Trump – who has repeated false claims that he won the 2020 election – lashed out against the system. Top election officials in Missouri, Florida and West Virginia earlier this month announced they would no longer work with the program, according to The Associated Press. Alabama previously announced it would leave the system, and Louisiana pulled out last year. Now, Washington Secretary of State Steve Hobbs and others are worried that their job keeping voter lists up-to-date and avoiding fraud will become harder if more states refuse to share and analyze voter rolls that could weed out people who have died, or may be voting multiple times in different states.

Full Article: As election deniers target the U.S. voter database, WA worries | Crosscut

Washington: Some Republicans in state cast a wary eye on an election security device | Miles Parks/NPR

In northeast Washington state, a remote region nestled against the Canadian border, the politics lean conservative and wariness of government runs high. Earlier this year, a Republican-led county commission there made a decision that rippled across Washington — triggering alarm at the secretary of state’s office, and now among cybersecurity experts who have worked for the past six years to shore up the security of America’s voting systems. It happened on Valentine’s Day during the regular weekly meeting of the three-member commission in Ferry County, where Donald Trump received more than 63% of the vote in the 2020 election. After an agenda that included an update on the county fair and a discussion about a local water and sewer district, the commissioners took up a proposal to disconnect a recently installed cybersecurity device from the county’s computer network. The device, known as an Albert sensor, was designed to alert local governments to potential hacking attempts against their networks. More than 900 Albert sensors have been deployed across the country, primarily to states and counties, and they have been a key component of the federal government’s cybersecurity response following Russian election interference around the 2016 election.

Full Article: Election security device under suspicion by Washington GOP : NPR

Washington: King County Elections asks sheriff to investigate GOP activists’ ballot-box ‘surveillance’ as potential voter intimidation | Jim Brunner/The Seattle Times

Calling it an attempt at voter intimidation, King County Elections Director Julie Wise requested the sheriff’s office investigate people who planted signs near ballot boxes warning voters they were “under surveillance.” In a statement Tuesday evening, Wise blasted what she called an effort to scare voters. “I believe this is a targeted, intentional strategy to intimidate and dissuade voters from using secure ballot drop boxes. My team is not going to stand by and allow any group to seed fear and doubt amongst our residents and voters, especially not when they are simply trying to make their voices heard,” Wise said. The signs in question were posted near ballot boxes in several Seattle and Eastside locations, with red letters warning the boxes were “under surveillance” and implying criminal consequences “for harvesting or depositing ballots” for pay. The signs included a scannable QR code that linked to a King County Republican Party website and form encouraging people to submit “incident reports” documenting allegedly suspicious activity. Wise noted voter intimidation is outlawed by both state and federal law.

Full Article: King County Elections asks sheriff to investigate GOP activists’ ballot-box ‘surveillance’ as potential voter intimidation | The Seattle Times

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman will be named to Biden administration election-security post | Jim Brunner/The Seattle Times

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman is expected to be named to a key election-security position in the Biden administration, according to a report by CNN. Wyman, a Republican, is set to be appointed to lead the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to protect elections from foreign and domestic interference, CNN reported, citing anonymous sources. Wyman’s office did not immediately dispute the CNN report. “The Office of the Secretary of State cannot confirm the information included in the CNN article,” Wyman spokesperson Kylee Zabel said in an email. Wyman didn’t respond to interview requests, and Zabel said she would not be available on Monday. Potential appointees in presidential administrations are often told not to talk until their role is formally announced. If she does take the new position, Wyman would be charged with leading DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, CNN reported, saying the appointment would not be official until White House paperwork is completed. The White House did not respond to a request for comment. The reported appointment would put Wyman, a nationally regarded expert on mail-in balloting and security, in a position working with elections officials across the U.S. at a time when many of her fellow Republicans have followed former President Donald Trump in fanning baseless conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.

Full Article: Report: Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman will be named to Biden administration election-security post | The Seattle Times

Washington State House passes bill to exempt certain election security information from public records disclosure | Laurel Demkovich/The Spokesman-Review

A bill that would exempt certain election security information from public records disclosures passed the state House of Representatives Wednesday. After an election that brought up questions of security, the bill aims to keep certain election procedures and plans of continuity unavailable to the public. Sponsor Rep. Laurie Dolan, D-Olympia, called it “an election integrity issue.” Election security information and contingency plans should not be provided “as a road map” to the bad actors who want to harm elections, Dolan said. “We need to secure our elections from bad actors in order to have truthworthy results,” she said. The bill passed 61-37, with many Republicans saying they oppose exempting more from the Public Records Act, which requires all state and local governmental entities to make public records available to the public.

Full Article: State House passes bill to exempt certain election security information from public records disclosure | The Spokesman-Review

Washington: Latino voters have higher than average ballot signature rejection rates in state | Joy Borkholder/InvestigateWest

Marissa Reyes still doesn’t understand why her signature would cause her August 2020 Benton County primary ballot to be tossed out. A letter from the county elections office challenging her signature came to her house in her hometown of Prosser. But Reyes had left for New York, where she had just finished college. Confused, neither Reyes nor her parents had the time to figure it all out before her ballot was rejected. “I definitely felt annoyed and a little apathetic, but definitely not surprised,” Reyes recalled. Fast-forward to November 2020, when the ballots of nearly 24,000 registered Washington voters were not counted because officials judged their ballot signatures to not match the signature on file, which is often the signature from their driver’s license. And in the eight Washington counties with the largest share of potential Latino voters, Hispanic-sounding names, like Reyes, are nearly four times more likely than other voters to have their ballot rejected for a signature mismatch, according to an InvestigateWest analysis of four recent elections. The curiously high rate of disenfranchisement among Latino voters could mean altered election outcomes.

Full Article: Latino voters have higher than average ballot signature rejection rates in Washington state | InvestigateWest

Washington Senate Considers Election Worker Harassment Bill | Steve Jackson/Spokane Public Radio

The Washington Senate is considering a proposal that would protect election workers from harassment. The bill was prompted by threats reported nationwide, and in Washington following last November’s election.Secretary of State Kim Wyman spoke in favor of the bill in a Senate Law and Justice Committee hearing Monday. “Across the country and around the state there have been not only actionable credible threats, but in some cases, gunfire being shot through windows of election offices, and like I said the personal protection of some high-profile secretaries of state and election workers that require their state patrols to be with them 24/7. It’s a serious level I’ve never seen in 28 years of doing this work,” she said. The bill would expand existing protections to cover not just officials like Wyman, but also staff members in her office and in county auditors’ offices.

Full Article: Washington Senate Considers Election Worker Harassment Bill | Spokane Public Radio

Washington: ‘I refuse to live in fear’: Secretary of State Kim Wyman reflects on threats and rebuilding trust in elections | Orion Donovan-Smith/The Spokesman-Review

On the morning of Jan. 6, Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman was texting with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. The Republican Spokane congresswoman planned to object to the certification of Electoral College results that would make President Joe Biden’s victory official. She told Wyman, a fellow Republican and the state’s top election official, she had concerns because of the tens of millions of Americans who believe there was widespread fraud in November’s election. Wyman, who had spent months responding to misinformation about the election, offered to address whatever concerns McMorris Rodgers had and told her to reach out. But before they could talk – and while two-thirds of House Republicans prepared to object to the election results – thousands of former President Donald Trump’s supporters marched from a rally outside the White House, where Trump repeated his baseless claim that the election was rigged, and stormed the Capitol. The violence, which left five people dead and dozens of police officers injured, was the culmination of a monthslong campaign by Trump and his allies to sow distrust in the U.S. voting system and eventually claim the election was stolen from him through a vast conspiracy. GOP lawmakers, cowed by Trump’s threats to unseat disloyal Republicans, largely gave credence to his election-rigging claims even as they outperformed expectations in their own races. As the rioters ransacked the Capitol, McMorris Rodgers had a change of heart and announced she would no longer object to the mostly symbolic count of Electoral College results. She was one of just two House Republicans to change course while the majority of GOP lawmakers heeded Trump’s demand to be “tough” and contest the results.

Full Article: ‘I refuse to live in fear’: Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman reflects on threats and rebuilding trust in elections | The Spokesman-Review

Washington election director forced into hiding over potential threats of retaliation, violence | MyNorthwest

The political climate regarding election fraud has been fraught both in Washington state and across the county. In the former, it became so problematic that state election officials have been forced to take extreme precautions in the face of potential threats. That includes Washington state’s election director, who was forced into hiding after an Iranian website launched calling for the assassination of U.S. election officials. That website hosted photos of those officials alongside home addresses, encouraging Americans displeased with the election results to go out and commit acts of violence. “My state election director is in an undisclosed location with her family because they’re worried about their physical and personal safety,” Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show. “It’s a scary time, and people are emotional, they’re illogical, and they’re not rational.” “The scary thing is that it’s just got to take one person that you motivate that says, ‘Yeah, we gotta go out and kill election officials,’” she added. Wyman herself has taken precautions as well, having even gotten rid of two personalized license plates that made her vehicle too easy to identify. All told, the situation has made for difficult — and often emotional — times for election officials across the country. “It’s frustrating because I go between fear and anger — I get mad because I don’t want to be afraid,” Wyman said. Much of that has been driven by rhetoric from the White House leading into the 2020 election, which saw President Trump repeatedly and emphatically insist that the results were fraudulent.

Full Article: Washington election director forced into hiding over potential threats of retaliation, violence

Washington: ‘Prepare for war’: A local GOP official goes all-in against election conspiracy theories | Danny Westneat/The Seattle Times

I’m a fan, for the most part, of the Republican leadership we have in this state right now. The party is so sidelined in blue Washington that its rudder right now is three people — the minority leaders of the state House and Senate (Rep. J.T. Wilcox of Yelm and Sen. John Braun of Centralia, respectively) and the Secretary of State, Kim Wyman. We’re lucky that all three are rational actors who value the norms of democracy, and who aren’t caterwauling off into crazed conspiracy theories about the election. “We have to stop this,” a frustrated Wilcox said Monday, about the continuing unsubstantiated cries of fraud that have led to threats against public officials following President Donald Trump’s loss. He added that he “believes in the results” of the ballot counts. Wilcox was responding specifically to a website called Enemies of the People that alleged Trump’s election was stolen. “Your days are numbered,” the site said. “Changing votes and working against the President is treason and patriotic Americans should never forget those who helped overthrow our democracy.” But that was an anonymous website. A bigger issue for the GOP is that this type of insane rhetoric is also ingrown in the party. In fact it’s being voiced right now by one elected Republican right here in Puget Sound.

Full Article: ‘Prepare for war’: A local GOP official goes all-in with election conspiracy theories | The Seattle Times

Washington: Threat made against state elections official amid anger over Trump loss | Joseph O’Sullivan/The Seattle Times

The Washington secretary of state’s office has reported a “doxxing” threat made against one of its workers as attempts continue to intimidate elections officials and politicians in both major political parties for administering the vote that led to President Donald Trump’s loss. Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s office learned of the threat over the weekend made against Elections Director Lori Augino, according to spokesperson Kylee Zabel. It was posted on a website describing “enemies of the people.” The site features photos and notes on elected officials and elections workers, along with home addresses and contact information. “The following individuals have aided and abetted the fraudulent election against Trump,” the post states, and: “Changing votes and working against the President is treason and patriotic Americans should never forget those who helped overthrow our democracy! Let’s make sure this list is distributed to everyone.” Augino’s home address and some contact information were posted on the site, as well as a photo of her with crosshairs superimposed over it and a note about her leadership role in a national association for elections directors. The post concluded with “Your days are numbered” and a timer clock that was ticking down. State officials have notified the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the state Fusion Center — a collaboration among law enforcement agencies sharing information about criminal activity — of the website, Zabel said in an email.

Full Article: Threat made against Washington elections official amid anger over Trump loss | The Seattle Times

Washington: Despite more threats voting system not breached, elections officials say | Jim Camden/The Spokesman-Review

Although attempts to disrupt the U.S. elections have increased, Washington’s voting system is safer than it was in 2016 and has withstood any attacks, state and local elections officials said Monday. Those findings dovetail with news that nearly half of all ballots sent out have been returned in an unprecedented early vote. The state’s Elections Security Operations Center has been monitoring the VoteWA system and the 39 counties’ elections systems for any attacks, Secretary of State Kim Wyman said. “We’re confident that our system has not had any breaches, has not been compromised in any way and that it is operating fully secure,” she said. Using some $20 million in federal funds for cybersecurity, the state built strong firewalls around the system and ways to monitor the traffic going in and out of VoteWa. “We have a much higher confidence level than we did, even two years ago, with the cybersecurity of our system,” Wyman said.

Washington: With new ballot-tabulation machines, King County residents can vote with ‘pink sparkly pen’ if they’d like | Joseph O’Sullivan/The Seattle Times

After the year you’ve had, King County voter, do you need some spice in your life? Well, if you’d like, go ahead and take a step on the wild side and mark that election ballot with a pink sparkly pen. That’s right, gone are the bad old days when the muckety-mucks over at King County Elections Department printed out ballots instructing you to fill out your election ballots in blue or black ink, giving you flashbacks to some horrid and surely embarrassing grade-school test experience. That’s because the tabulation equipment acquired by the department in 2017 is more versatile, according to Kendall LeVan Hodson, chief of staff to Elections Director Julie Wise.“We’d of course still count the ballots if they didn’t use blue or black ink, it just typically required that they be duplicated, which was time consuming and costly,” LeVan Hodson wrote in an email.  “The new tabulation system we put in in 2017 reads almost anything, so — after testing that out a little bit — we decided to remove that (use blue or black ink only) on the instructions.” That’s why in 2018, the instructions calling for blue or black ink were nixed, she added.

Washington: Mail-In Voting Is ‘Not Rampant Voter Fraud,’ Says Washington’s Top Election Official | Emma Bowman/NPR

This past week, President Trump renewed his unsubstantiated claim that mail-in voting begets inaccurate or fraudulent results when he raised the prospect of delaying November’s election. “With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Trump tweeted Thursday. Trump’s rhetoric alarms Kim Wyman, the secretary of state of Washington, one of a handful of states that vote almost entirely by mail. A growing number of states are embracing mail-in voting — which is essentially the same as absentee voting — over fears that going to polling stations could increase exposure to the coronavirus. “I think it really shatters peoples’ confidence in the process,” Wyman, a Republican, said in an interview with All Things Considered on Saturday. “We need to make sure we’re inspiring confidence in the public that this is a fair election. And the way you do that is balancing access and security.” Contrary to the president’s claims, fraudulent mail-in voting is very rare, according to election security experts. And as for Washington, Wyman said, “We’ve seen a very low incidence of any kind of voter fraud.”

Washington: Does vote-by-mail lead to voter fraud? Washington’s 2018 election data says no | Joel Connelly/Seattle Post Intelligencer

released figures Monday on the 2018 election. Just 142 cases of improper voting out of 3.1 million ballots were referred to county sheriffs and prosecutors for legal action. That’s 0.004% of what was an energized electorate. The nation has begun to look at vote-by-mail, currently used in Washington and four other states, after last months “pandemic primary” in Wisconsin. With Republican legislators balking at any change in rules, voters in Milwaukee had to stand in line for 1 1/2 to 2 hours with fewer than 10 polling places open in the city. Thousands of absentee votes, requested by voters, were not delivered on time. Trump voted by mail in Florida’s March 3 primary, but has decried letting other voters do likewise. “No, mail ballots,” the 45th president declared last month. “They cheat. Mail ballots are a very dangerous thing for this country because they are cheaters. You get thousands and thousands of people sitting in somebody’s living room signing ballots all over the place.”

Washington: Where Everyone Votes by Mail – an interview with Secretary of State Kim Wyman | Lisa Lerer/The New York Times

Amid controversies over testing and respirators, social distancing and stimulus checks, another issue has been bubbling up as a heated partisan battle in our era of pandemic: voting by mail. Democrats and voting rights groups are pushing proposals to expand access to mail-in ballots as a way to protect voters from spreading the virus and ensuring that millions — particularly African-American and poorer voters who tend to vote for Democrats — are not disenfranchised. Republicans largely oppose the idea, arguing that vote-by-mail elections could lead to fraud, since voters don’t have to show up in person at a polling place. Across the country, Republican leaders are fighting state-level statutes that could expand absentee balloting and mail-in-only elections and increase postal balloting. President Trump has also voiced another concern, one Democrats believe is a prime motivation for his party’s opposition: Mail-in ballots would make it easier to vote, prompting more people to participate in the election and, they believe, hurt Republican candidates. He’s complained that a national expansion of vote-by-mail and early voting would mean “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” There’s little evidence that vote-by-mail leads to widespread fraud or favors Democrats. Mr. Trump, himself, voted by mail in Florida’s primary election last month and the 2018 midterms.

Washington: Officials say April election will take place despite coronavirus concerns | Joseph O’Sullivan/The Seattle Times

Gov. Jay Inslee’s office will let Washington’s April 28 special election proceed despite worries among county election officials about safely administering and counting ballots during the coronavirus pandemic. Those concerns earlier this month led Secretary of State Kim Wyman and Washington’s county auditors to write a letter to Inslee requesting the election be canceled. The April elections are not considered a high-profile affair. Only 18 of Washington’s counties are scheduled to have issues on the ballot. Those elections don’t involve any candidates running for office, but present proposed bonds and levies to voters. Washington’s vote-by-mail system limits the contact voters have, compared with other places – think long lines at polling places in other states.

Washington: State elections chief asks Inslee to cancel April 28 special election | James Drew/Tacoma News Tribune

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman said Wednesday she has asked Gov. Jay Inslee to cancel the April 28 special election to protect the health of elections workers during the novel coronavirus outbreak. “What’s invisible to most voters is that our county election officials rely on a lot of people to conduct an election. Counties and vendors require staff to work in close quarters to support an election and the age of most of these employees is 60 years old or older — the very folks we are most worried about protecting during the pandemic,” Wyman said. Wyman said the Secretary of State’s office began to think about the need to cancel the April 28 special election while implementing social distancing for the March 10 presidential primary. “When you look at large counties like King County or Pierce County where you have maybe 50 to 100 part-time workers who are coming in to help you process ballots, it’s very difficult in the close quarters that they work in to be able to give a 6-foot space around every worker,” she said.

Washington: Secretary of State Kim Wyman asks Inslee to cancel April special elections over coronavirus concerns | Joseph O’Sullivan/The Seattle Times

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman has asked Gov. Jay Inslee to use his emergency authority to cancel the April 28 special elections in response to the new coronavirus. Those elections are scheduled to take place across 18 of Washington’s counties but don’t involve any candidates for office, according to a letter to the governor Tuesday by Wyman. Rather, they give voters choices on proposed bonds and levies. While there is less contact in Washington’s vote-by-mail system compared with other states, she wrote, election planners worry there are too many questions about adequately administering an election. “From courthouse closures, to workforce reductions of election staff, postal staff, or disruptions with vendors who support election operations, circumstances outside of our control could make it impossible for counties to meet statutory election requirements,” Wyman wrote. “These include mail processing, voter registration, canvassing results, and certifying an election.”

Washington: Senate committee reviewing Secretary of State’s election security bill | Northern Kittitas County Tribune

Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s election-security legislation, Senate Bill 6412, received a hearing in the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations and Elections Committee recently. The bill aims to bolster election security on four fronts — eliminate cyber threats by removing risky electronic ballot-return methods, improve third-party ballot collection, provide post-election security through statistical audits, and appropriate $1.8 million in order to draw nearly $9 million in federal matching funds to augment security. Sen. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup, is sponsoring the bill. “These critical election security improvements cannot wait. Cyber criminals are relentless, and in this upcoming, momentous election cycle, voters need to have confidence that our systems are secure and their information will remain protected,” said Wyman. “The race to secure our elections has no finish line, but Senate Bill 6412 propels elections officials in the right direction for 2020 and beyond.” Testifying in support of the bill was Kirstin Mueller, election-security issue chair for the League of Women Voters of Washington. “Over the last few years, detailed cybersecurity reports have been released, outlining what each state can do to improve the security of their elections. These reports have many recommendations in common – ensure a secure chain of custody of voted ballots, require paper ballots that voters have marked by hand or with the use of an assistive device, perform statistically based post-election audits that can catch and correct incorrect election outcomes, and keep all elements of voting and tabulation away from the internet. This legislation improves Washington’s election security in all of these critical areas,” Mueller said. “We believe this bill provides the right balance of access and security, and it protects organizations like the League, who want to help, by providing a way to track ballots.”