My vision is to inspire performance excellence throughout government to improve the lives of people. As Secretary, my office will serve as a management model to strengthen public confidence in elections and set a tone of no-partisan cooperation. I will fulfill the legacy of this position as statewide advocate for trade and economic development to expand exports and recruit new companies.
If you win, what actions will you take in the first 90 days?
First and foremost, it is important to get the right people in the right positions. There are five divisions within the Secretary of State’s office, each with their own director. To be part of my administration, each director must commit to excellence and the goal of becoming the best Secretary of State’s office in the nation. Within 90 days, each division will undergo a strategic planning process that includes establishing a clear vision, mission and values statement; ten to fifteen performance measures will be chosen, many of which will be compared to other states to base our progress on. The public will be able to judge for themselves whether or not my office is the best in the nation.
In addition, my office will undergo a comprehensive performance audit by the Washington State Quality Awards at least once every three years. Scores for this audit range from 0 to 1000-- with 400-600 being considered an “industry leader”.
How would you hold local County Auditors accountable?
The Secretary of State has ultimate oversight of our state’s elections. This means that he/she must hold local county auditors, who carry out elections, accountable to the highest standards. As the Chair of the Government Operations and Elections Committee following the 2004 Gregoire/Rossi election, it was clear that many of the problems with that election stemmed from inconsistent procedures. In fact, the Chelan Superior Court Judge who reviewed this election stated that the culture of King County Elections was as follows: “It’s inertia. It’s selfishness. It’s taking our paycheck but not doing the work. It’s not caring about either our fellow workers or the public we are supposed to serve. It’s not taking responsibility. It’s refusing to be held accountable.”
For this reason, I passed legislation requiring county auditors to be audited by the Secretary at least once every three years. These audits must be rigorous; they must also be helpful. The goal is to improve performance. Therefore, training for best management practices, such as Lean, Six Sigma and Malcolm Baldridge, must be encouraged. Having said this, the complacency that marred the 2004 election cannot be allowed to develop. Only rigorous oversight will prevent this.
How do we deal with voter fraud? Is this a real threat?
Fraud is always a threat and we should be on guard for it. But we must also be realistic about its presence. President Bush instructed the Department of Justice to investigate voter fraud through the Public Security Division in 2002. They found no evidence of an organized effort of fraud. Nevertheless, the 2004 Gregoire/Rossi election proved that errors and neglect can lead to discrepancies that threaten the public’s faith in elections.
Since the 2004 election, several steps have been taken in Washington to improve our voting system. As Chair of the Government Operations and Elections Committee, I help guide many of these reforms. For example, we established a statewide database of registered voters, rather than use a county-by-county database, thus ensuring that a person could not be registered in more than one county. We instructed the Secretary of State to “scrub” this database when new data is received to purge ineligible and deceased voter. We also required stringent security measures for cases where ballots are modified due to damage or illegibility. In all, twelve pieces of election legislation was passed in 2005 and 2006. The league of Women Voters has a complete list of these reforms which can be found here.
What can be done to encourage more people to vote?
There are several valid proposals to increase voter participation and registration, such as election-day registration and pre-registration of 16-17 year olds. However, none of these programs will be effective unless they are implemented correctly and tracked for performance. For example, Washington ranks number one in the country for the number of programs to encourage young people to vote, yet we rank average when it comes to actual voter participation for this age group. As Secretary, I will actually track our rate of registration and voter turnout --- segmenting according to logical categories. Currently we do not do this. I would also compare our performance with other states. Process improvements, such as Lean and Six Sigma, would be implemented with the goal of making Washington the leading state in the nation.
To ensure effectiveness of implementation, my office will undergo a comprehensive performance audit by the Washington State Quality Awards at least once every three years. Scores for this audit range from 0 to 1000-- with 400-600 being considered an “industry leader”. This will create the transparency necessary to truly judge the performance of my office.
How do you see the role of Secretary of State related to environmental issues in Washington State?
First, by being an example to our state. As a young man, I will never forget meeting Governor Evans while hiking up the side of the Carbon Glacier. He demonstrated the simplicity and genuineness that epitomizes northwest living. As a ski patrol at Crystal Mountain and an avid hiker and biker, I have always tried to live up to this ideal.
In the legislature, I am the leading advocate for utilizing technology to advance environmental protection. I created the STARS research program that hired Dr. Birgitte Ahring, from Denmark, to lead our state’s effort in the area of cellulosic aerospace bio-fuels. I authored legislation that created our state’s Innovation Partnership Zones, which have created areas of focused economic growth. These include: Sustainable Industrial Redevelopment (Auburn), Marine Energy (Clallam County), Alternative Energy (Kittitas County), Clean IT, Smart Grid and Smart Farm (Pullman), Urban Clean Waters (Tacoma/Puyallup) and Energy Storage (Tri-Cities), just to name a few. As Secretary of State, I will continue my role as a leader in economic development to ensure the continuation of these valuable environmental programs.
More coming soon...