Washington Sec. of State Wyman resigns, ticketed for new role with Biden administration
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman announced her resignation Tuesday, after officially accepting a new role as the Senior Election Security Lead for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
Reports of the move first surfaced Monday night, after sources told CNN that she appeared to be ticketed for a job with the Department of Homeland Security.
In her new role, Wyman will be heading up a CISA team — which functions as part of the DHS — tasked to “protect future elections from foreign and domestic interference,” according to CNN. Her resignation as Secretary of State will take effect on Nov. 19, 2021.
Wyman is the only elected Republican to hold a statewide office in Washington state. She’s served as Secretary of State since 2013, having recently won reelection in November 2020 after defeating Democrat Gael Tarleton by a 53% to 46% margin. It will next be up to Gov. Jay Inslee to name a successor, who will serve as the new Secretary of State until the seat comes up for election again in November 2022.
Wyman has frequently been critical of challenges to the 2020 election levied by both former President Donald Trump and former Washington gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp. She has also been vocal about the danger posed by the recent uptick in claims of election fraud.
“I’m very concerned because it just continuously undermines and questions the validity of our election system,” she told KIRO Radio’s Gee & Ursula Show in September. “It concerns me because people start losing faith in our election system, they start losing faith that the people who are elected in that system are legitimate, and it undermines the representative form of government that we have here in this country.”
CISA Director Jen Easterly praised Wyman’s “decades of experience, unparalleled expertise” in a statement issued Tuesday, noting that her “unimpeachable integrity (has) earned her bipartisan respect at every level of government.”
“Kim’s deep knowledge of state and county government will strengthen our partnerships with state and local officials and enable us to expand our outreach to smaller election jurisdictions and private sector partners,” she continued. “Free and fair elections are a cornerstone of our democracy; Kim and I share a common view that ensuring the security of our elections must be a non-partisan effort. Kim is uniquely qualified for this critical role, and I can’t wait for her to join the team.”
Over the course of her tenure as Secretary of State, Wyman has expanded Washington’s vote-by-mail system to include fully paid postage, a wide network of ballot drop boxes, and more stringent security measures. The state has also seen historic increases in voter turnout over that period.
She released a statement Tuesday laying out her decision to take on the new role with CISA. It reads:
When I began working in elections 28 years ago, I resolved to work toward a system where every eligible person in our state had the opportunity to register, vote, and have their ballot counted fairly and accurately. In the past six years, my focus expanded to ensure our elections remained safe from foreign adversaries. During my tenure as a state and county elections administrator, Washington expanded vote-by-mail elections statewide, installed nearly 500 ballot drop boxes, implemented same-day and automatic voter registration, enabled 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote, and more. This growth in access was coupled with partnerships that improved election security, from creating the VoteWA system that connects election officials in real-time to ensure election accountability, to establishing the first-of-its-kind Elections Security Operations Center. We also integrated statewide cybersecurity training, testing, and tabletop exercise programs in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security, CISA, the FBI, and the Washington National Guard. All of these enhancements, in addition to the tireless work from county election officials, have helped our elections gain national renown.
I am honored to be able to share nearly three decades of experience and expertise at the federal level to support CISA’s efforts to safeguard our election systems from cyberattacks and enhance the public’s confidence in our elections. As I assume this new role, I remain committed to protecting the integrity of our elections, and working closely with local and state elections officials nationwide to bolster this foundational pillar of our democracy.
For the past nine years, I have had the distinction of serving my fellow Washingtonians in unique ways, including overseeing state elections, corporations and charities registrations, State Archives, State Library, and various community programs. It has been my highest honor and achievement to lead the professionals responsible for administering these critical services and propelling this diverse office into the future. Although I will not have the opportunity to fulfill my term, I know they will continue to provide exceptional service and leadership well beyond my time in office. Together, this team has accomplished some amazing feats — from leading the way on election security and developing a streamlined online filing system for Washington’s corporations and charities, to making progress on a new Library-Archives Building that will connect the people of Washington to the rich history and inclusive future of our state, and so much more — and I am confident that this important work will continue.