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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 14, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 42
Tina Podlodowski visits 39 counties; Wyman sued by AG
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Tina Podlodowski visits 39 counties; Wyman sued by AG

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

Can a politician who allows security breaches in voters' personal information, allegedly violates campaign contribution laws, and is openly opposed to the fair treatment of LGBTQ people get re-elected as Washington Secretary of State?

Voters will decide the outcome to that question come November as out Lesbian and former Seattle City Councilmember Tina Podlodowski has emerged as a serious contender to beat the embattled GOP incumbent, Kim Wyman.

Wyman hasn't had a good week. As Podlodowski announced that she has traveled to 39 counties during her campaign for Secretary of State to talk to voters about the importance of the race and reforming Washington's voting system, Wyman received news that the State of Washington is suing her.

Wyman, who is seeking to keep the only GOP statewide position on the West Coast, is accused of multiple public disclosure law violations, Attorney General Bob Ferguson's office announced in a news release earlier this week.

'The complaint alleges the Wyman campaign failed to timely file contribution and expenditure disclosure reports, as required under the state's campaign finance laws. It also alleges that the campaign failed to timely deposit contributions,' reads a news release from the attorney general's office.

Ordinarily, these types of announcements include a brief statement from the attorney general; however, Ferguson recused himself from the case as he is currently seeking re-election as well.

The complaint against Wyman was made by a citizen action notice sent by the Washington State Democratic Party in the spring, which then came before the Public Disclosure Commission. During the investigation into the matter, the PDC staff reached the following conclusions, according to the AG's office: Wyman filed 11 reports for the campaign's April 2016 activity 10 days late, disclosing $30,567 in additional contributions in May 2016. The campaign also filed an amended campaign summary report that included late contribution disclosures, as well as $943 it had failed to account for in a previous report.

The Washington State Republican Party's response to the lawsuit was to say that 'the mistakes were minor and technical in nature - the public was not harmed in any way' and to attack Ferguson. 'Even though the AG has had this information for months, he carefully timed his action to make headlines right before ballots arrive in voters' homes.'

But the latest news of Wyman's screw-up is just another entry on a list of incompetency and alleged rule-breaking by the Republican Secretary of State.

The investigation into Arcan Cetin, the man who gunned down five people earlier this month at a Macy's in Burlington, Washington, has become the tip of an investigation into voter fraud.

Cetin immigrated to the United States from Turkey as a child and has permanent residency as a green card holder. He has never taken the next step and become a citizen. Despite the requirement to be a US citizen to vote, Cetin registered to vote in 2014 and voted three times, most recently in May for Washington's presidential primary. While citizenship is required to vote, proof of citizenship in Washington State is not, thus opening up an opportunity for Cetin to vote illegally.

Wyman said that Washington State doesn't have a provision in state law that allows county elections officials or the Secretary of State's office to verify someone's citizenship. That is true. However, she slipped up when she downplayed the notion that there are many similar cases like Cetin's. 'Our hands are kind of tied, but make no mistake, we want to make sure that everybody has confidence that people casting ballots are eligible,' she said.

Additionally, Podlodowski embarrassed the incumbent by sending a letter to the state's chief information security officers last month, revealing a design flaw in the state's voter database. The undiscovered four-year-old flaw allowed a computer-savvy person, like Podlodowski, to have back-door access to voters' email addresses, cell phone numbers, ballot delivery types, and the coding used to reach military and overseas voters.

The information security officer informed Wyman's office, which corrected the design flaw, after Podlodowski detailed how to break in in her letter.

Meanwhile, Podlodowski is on a roll.

She argues that Wyman's office has become sluggish at registering new voters in a state where 1.5 million eligible citizens are eligible but not registered. Podlodowski, on the other hand, champions same-day registration and registering 16- and 17-year-olds as they get their driver's licenses.

Podlodowski says she is listening to what voters say they want.

On Thursday, Podlodowski told supporters in an email, 'Along the way, I've sat down with Washingtonians of all stripes to listen to their ideas about our voting system. From Wahkiakum to Pend Oreille, from Pierce to Spokane, voters agree: we need a voting system that works for everyone.'

She reminded voters that 'there are 33 days until Election Day - and this election will come down to whether or not voters participate,' and she asked that people talk to others and explain why they believe the state's voter registration needs changing.

If Podlodowski is successful in her bid to unseat Wyman, not only will she become the first LGBTQ person in Washington history to be elected to a statewide office, she will also break the 54-year hold the GOP has had on the Secretary of State's position.

For more information on Podlodowski's campaign go to www.VotersForTina.com.

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