Washington’s Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman confirmed this morning that she’s decided to take a job with the Biden administration and will be resigning as Washington’s Secretary of State in a little less than a month.
“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 a statement. “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.”
CISA, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, is an independent component of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Formed in 2018, CISA is the successor to the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), which was established in 2007. As its name suggests, its principal focus is securing the nation’s infrastructure against cyber threats.
During the Trump error, CISA was led by Christopher Krebs, who was infamously dismissed by Trump after stating, correctly, that the 2020 presidential election was secure and that there was “no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
Trump removed Krebs from his position shortly after those comments were made.
Nowadays, CISA is led by Jen Easterly, a former battalion executive officer and brigade operations officer in the United States Army Intelligence and Security Command. Easterly was confirmed by the United States Senate in July via voice vote, with no senator expressing any opposition.
WASHINGTON – The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) today announced that Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman will join the Biden Administration as CISA’s Senior Election Security Lead. As an expert on elections and experienced Secretary of State, her appointment speaks to the Agency’s dedication to working with election officials throughout the nation in a non-partisan manner to ensure the security and resilience of our election infrastructure.
“Kim’s reputation is second to none and I am personally thrilled to have her lead CISA’s election security efforts. Her 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. 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,” said CISA Director Jen Easterly.
Kim Wyman is Washington’s 15th Secretary of State. First elected in 2012, she is only the second woman to serve as Secretary of State in Washington’s history. Prior to being elected to this office, Kim served as Thurston County Elections Director for nearly a decade and served three terms as the elected Thurston County Auditor (2001–2013). As head of one of the most multi-faceted offices in state government, Secretary Wyman is responsible for overseeing state and local elections, corporation and charity filings, the Washington State Library, the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library, and the Washington State Archives. Wyman’s full bio is available here.
“I am honored to be able to share nearly three decades of experience and expertise to support CISA’s efforts to safeguard our election systems from cyber-attacks 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,” said Wyman.
OLYMPIA — Secretary of State Kim Wyman announced today she will be resigning to accept an appointment to serve as the Senior Election Security Lead for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the nation’s lead for cyber, infrastructure, and election security. She will resign as secretary of state, effective Nov. 19, 2021.
Wyman, who has served as Washington’s secretary of state since 2013, released the following:
“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.”
Following her resignation, Governor Jay Inslee will be charged with appointing a new secretary of state, who will hold the position until the next general election in November 2022.
Washington’s Office of the Secretary of State oversees a number of areas within state government, including managing state elections, registering corporations and charities, and governing the use of the state flag and state seal. The office also manages the State Archives and the State Library, documents extraordinary stories in Washington’s history through Legacy Washington, oversees the Combined Fund Drive for charitable giving by state employees, and administers the state’s Address Confidentiality Program to help protect survivors of crime.
As Wyman’s statement says, the vacancy created by her resignation will be filled by gubernatorial appointment. The appointee will serve until the certification of the November 2022 midterm elections in about a year and a month, at which time the individual chosen by the voters will assume office unless that person is the same person that Governor Jay Inslee appoints.
Republicans have held the office of Secretary of State for over fifty years, but Inslee is under no obligation to keep the position in Republican hands, and is not expected to. Consequently, as of Wyman’s departure on November 19th, there almost certainly won’t be any statewide Republican elected officials left on the Left Coast. Wyman was the last one. And now she’s gone — headed to the Biden administration for an important new posting at CISA.
“I spoke to Kim earlier today and congratulated her on her appointment,” said Governor Inslee. “She has remained independent in the face of partisan challenges and has always done what was best for the strength of our democracy.”
“I remember watching Kim certify the 2020 election results last December on the floor of the state Senate. When confronted with the choice of adopting election lies being promulgated by powerful forces in her party, Kim chose to stand by the will of the people. We are a stronger state because of Kim’s endeavors.”
“She is a great fit to lead these crucial efforts at the national level and I have no doubt that her expertise, energy and focus will lead to more secure elections and help restore faith in the democratic process.”
“I will appoint her replacement in the coming weeks, and I believe that regardless of who it is, they will continue the vital work that Kim and her staff have put in place.”
“I wish Secretary Wyman the best in her new position,” said Washington State Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski. “While we haven’t always seen eye to eye, I have a lot of hope for her future work to defend our democracy from foreign interference and keep our elections free and fair.”
“This will be a critical special election in 2022. We’ve seen how Republican politicians have spent the last year calling into question the integrity of our elections and alleging nonexistent fraud. They’ve filed completely ungrounded lawsuits, including ones that the state Democratic Party is intervening in now to dismiss in federal court. They’ve spread conspiracies and nonsense to try to undermine confidence in our elections and our democracy.”
“I worry about how the Republican [Top Two competition] for this seat is going to go next year. We should all want a Secretary of State who will protect our right to vote and the integrity of and public trust in our elections. The Washington State Democratic Party is committed to fighting hard to help elect someone who will defend our democracy against the attacks of the Republican Party.”
Podlodowski’s counterpart Caleb Heimlich floated the possibility of Podlodowski being appointed the new Secretary of State by Governor Inslee during an appearance on Q13 with Brandi Kruse. However, Podlodowski is committed to her work as head of the Washington State Democratic Party and is not seeking the appointment. (Podlodowski was Wyman’s 2016 Democratic opponent.)
Our team at NPI thanks Kim Wyman for her service. While we haven’t always agreed on the issues, she has been kind and gracious to our team every single time we’ve interacted, and we hope to catch up with her about her new role once she is settled in at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
This post will be updated with additional details as we get them.