Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman Resigns to Take Election Security Post in Biden Administration

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OLYMPIA — Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman on Tuesday announced her resignation to take a key election-security position in President Joe Biden's administration.

Wyman, the only statewide elected Republican, will serve as the senior election security lead for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), according to a statement from her office.

CISA is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and works on cyber issues, infrastructure and election security.

Wyman's last day as secretary of state will be Nov. 19.

"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," Wyman said in prepared remarks.

"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," she added.

A county elections administrator for a decade before first winning election in 2012 to secretary of state — which oversees Washington's elections — Wyman has built a national profile on voting and ballot security.

Last spring, Wyman used her expertise in vote-by-mail elections — Washington is one of only a handful of states with long experience in that realm — to help other states expand or adopt the practice to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 during elections.

Before and since last year's elections, she defended mail balloting, which in Washington came about through the encouragement of moderate Republicans.

Washington's elections system has been considered by national experts as one of the more secure for voting.

Wyman has bucked Republicans elsewhere and refused to follow former President Donald Trump in trafficking baseless conspiracy theories about last year's election.

She pushed back against claims of fraud elsewhere, publicly criticizing the recent "audit" of votes in Arizona's Maricopa County as "political theater."

Wyman likewise rejected claims by Loren Culp, Washington's 2020 Republican gubernatorial candidate. Culp had filed a legal challenge alleging fraud but dropped the lawsuit after his attorney was threatened with legal sanctions.

In a statement, CISA Director Jen Easterly wrote that Wyman's "decades of experience, unparalleled expertise, and unimpeachable integrity have 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," added Easterly.

The resignation presents Democrats a fresh opportunity to try and win the office that Washington voters have given to Republicans in every election since 1964.

Reelected to the statewide position in 2016 and 2020, Wyman is the only remaining Republican in Washington to hold statewide office.

Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, will name a temporary successor.

"We have not compiled a list yet" of potential appointees, Inslee spokesperson Tara Lee wrote in an email Tuesday morning. "Process still TBD."

"It is our understanding that the governor and SOS Wyman are speaking via phone shortly," Lee added.

Inslee's appointee would fill the role through next November's next general election.

The winning candidate in that election would then serve out the remainder of Wyman's term through 2024, the governor's office has said.

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