WASHINGTON - Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman announced Tuesday that she accepted a job to serve as the Senior Election Security Lead for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)..
She will resign her position as secretary of state, which she has served in since 2013. Her resignation is effective Nov. 19.
"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," Wyman said in a news release.
Wyman, 59, has led elections in Washington state for years, and she was reelected to a third term in November — the lone statewide-elected Republican on the West Coast.
Wyman will serve as the government’s liaison to the states, a job that will remain high-profile following former President Donald Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election he lost to Joe Biden, and the embracing of those false claims by other members of the GOP.
Trump and his allies made — and still make — false assertions that there was rampant election fraud in 2020 that swayed the outcome of the election, despite evidence to the contrary. Former Attorney General William Barr told AP there was no sign of widespread fraud. As Trump railed over the election, leaders of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency stated publicly that it was the safest election in history. One was fired by Trump shortly after.
Scores of lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies over claims of possible election fraud were dismissed by the courts, including by Trump-appointed federal judges.
Still, that misinformation prompted thousands to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in a violent but failed effort to stop the certification of Biden’s win.
The discussions involving Wyman's possible departure from her current post were first reported by CNN.
Last October, Wyman published the book "Elections 2020: Controlling Chaos: How Foreign Interference, a Global Pandemic, and Political Polarization Threaten U.S. Democracy."
She was a constant presence on national networks in the weeks leading up to the 2020 election, extolling the safety and security of the vote-by-mail system in her state, a process in place here for years. She disputed Trump’s claims that mail-in voting was fraudulent.
In interviews with AP before the 2020 election, Wyman said she was "an elections administrator first and foremost."
"If the president wants to rant and rave about how insecure vote by mail is or how our elections are going to be rigged, then I’m going to talk about the security measures that Washington state put in place," she told AP in September 2020. "And I’m going to spend my time talking about the facts, and no, I’m not going to get mired down in some sort of political debate and posturing."
Before the state’s 12 members of the Electoral College cast their votes for Biden in Olympia in December, Wyman got emotional while talking to them about the vote they were about to take.
"While some people continue to question the outcome of this election, average citizens from all walks of life will step up today to exercise their responsibility to perform their constitutional duty to the best of their ability," she said. "This is an important ceremony. This is the American way of governance. This is democracy in action."
Wyman has never shied away from the fact that she’s a Republican, but has said she believes she’s approached the job in a nonpartisan way.
"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," she said.
Washington State Republican Party Chair Caleb Heimlich said he learned that Wyman's departure was official when she called him Tuesday morning.
"She said she felt called to serve," he said. "I just thanked her for her service to the people of Washington state. I expressed my disappointment that we would be losing her."
Wyman's departure will prompt a 2022 special election to replace her. Until that time, Governor Jay Inslee (D) will choose a temporary replacement - a decision he said he expects to make in the coming weeks.
La Corte reported from Olympia, Washington.
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