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Reed discusses Washington elections and future of voting

Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed speaks with Spokesman-Review editorial staff on Sept. 10.  (Christopher Anderson)
Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed speaks with Spokesman-Review editorial staff on Sept. 10. (Christopher Anderson)

Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed, a Republican in his third term, sat down recently with The Spokesman-Review to talk about the upcoming election. Reed has been a champion for the top-two primary system, which is now in its third election cycle and was recently adopted by California. He also favors voting by mail.

Q. The Spokane County Republican Party recently wrote a letter to the County Canvassing Board expressing concerns about the handling of ballots by the post office. Do you see any signs of fraud related to having a mail-in voting system?

A. We have not. … Down in Florida and in some other states they’ve had it, but they don’t have nearly the double-checks that we have and the security that we have. And we continue to do more and more. I have not heard of any instance of fraud. We had one case in Snohomish County where they actually left them sitting on the dock, but it was discovered, and they got them in. The post office realizes how important this is to them. This is good for their business. … So the post office has been great and also realizing No. 1 that it’s top-priority mail … but also just how important the security of that mail is.

Q. Currently only Pierce County has the option of voting at poll sites on Election Day. Will the state ever go back to poll sites?

A. I see the opposite. We’re going to go to online voting. Not yet because we don’t have enough security in terms of the Internet and all that. But it’s going to get there. Obviously technology is rapidly increasing. But that’s the way the voters want to vote, and that’s who we have to be responsive to. … We have to know ‘How do the voters want to do this?’ They clearly want to do vote by mail because they were signing up overwhelmingly for it before your county commission passed it right here in Spokane County.

Q. Have you seen anything to cause people to justify a lack of confidence in the Spokane County auditor’s office?

A. I have not. I have been overall pretty pleased in the direction that they’ve moved in, in terms of the improvements. … I think overall, Spokane has done a pretty good job.

Q. Should county auditors, who oversee elections, be nonpartisan positions?

A. I’ve never been particularly strong on that. … I was a county auditor for over 20 years and co-chaired our legislative committee. … When you deal with the Legislature, what I found is by having partisan officeholders, we were very successful. We’d get into all four caucuses and talk to them and everything – while the city officials, the school people, all that were kind of outside. So it’s important in terms of being players. Plus, it’s important sometimes at election time. You have some people you can turn to to provide you with support. …. The bottom line is not whether or not the positions are partisan are not, but whether when you conduct the office, you’re conducting it in a partisan way, which you should not do.

Staff writer John Craig contributed to this report.


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