Inside Opinion

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Tag: Sam Reed


A potential cure for interminable campaigns

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Think the 2012 elections seem about as distant as the return of economic prosperity?

Think again. New Hampshire expects to kick off its presidential campaign season next month with a visit from rumored GOP hopeful, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Such early starts are encouraged by the free-for-all that encourages states to jockey for earlier and earlier primary dates in the hopes of getting noticed by the candidates – a system that is coming under deserved fire once again.

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Reed’s a national role model for nonpartisanship

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

In 2004, Washington Secretary of Sam Reed was at the center of the firestorm created by one of the closest gubernatorial races in U.S. history. Two recounts, multiple lawsuits and six months later, Reed – a Republican – declared that Democrat Chris Gregoire had beaten Republican Dino Rossi by 133 votes out of nearly 3 million cast.

For Reed, the chaos of uncertainty during that time was a personal challenge – to reform the system so that it would hold up to scrutiny in future close races.

His fairness during the tense months as vote counts teetered back and forth and his reform efforts afterward are reasons Reed is being honored as one of the nation’s eight top public officials in next month’s issue of Governing magazine. He and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley are the only two statewide elected officials being honored.
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Sam Reed: This isn’t the place for ranked-choice voting

In case it wasn’t clear enough already, Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed – the state’s chief elections officer – is not a fan of Pierce County’s experiment with ranked-choice voting.

Visiting today, Reed said, “My personal opinion is that ranked choice voting may work well for parliamentary systems where you’re voting for one office or maybe two, but the thought of having it here – particularly out here in the West where you have so many candidates – is not very realistic.”

What’s a parliamentary system got to do with it?

In much of Europe, for example, “usually they are voting on one office for parliament.” (Elected members of parliament choose the prime minister and other higher offices.) Because there’s not much on the ballot, it’s easier for voters do deal with the greater complexity of ranked-choice decisions, according to Reed.
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R-71 news breaks from strange directions

Tim Eyman is known more for initiatives than journalism, but he actually broke some news last Wednesday that left the secretary of state’s office embarrassed.

Here’s a link to a Kitsap Sun blog that contains both Eyman’s blast and a rebuttal from Toby Nixon, president of the Washington Coalition for Open Government.

Strip away Eyman’s off-putting blustering about fraud and lying, and he’s essentially right: The secretary of state’s office released no information about who signed petitions until 2006, when the practice began with one of Eyman’s initiatives. Read today’s editorial.

The reasons are innocent: State archivists’ resistance to storing records (such as petitions) in easily shared digital formats, and the fact that Sam Reed’s predecessors believed that the identities of initiative signers was confidential. But the fact remains that release is a very recent phenomenon.

We have a strong bias toward open public records, hence our arguments that the public ought to have access to petitions and most other government documents. Factor that bias in when you read our commentary. We’re also vehemently opposed to anyone harassing petition-signers, but we think that’s a problem to be dealt with in other ways – such as prosecution and public shaming.
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Fraud’s not the issue in petition disclosure

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Tim Eyman’s latest charge against state officialdom sounds like a bombshell.

The state’s most prolific initiative peddler e-mailed his supporters and the press last week to allege that the “Secretary of State has been perpetuating a fraud.”

Pretty strong words, even for the hyperbolic Eyman.

He claims that Sam Reed is lying when he says that referendum and initiative petitions and the names on them have long been considered public documents in this state. (Reed’s comments came in the wake of a legal challenge to the release of petitions related to Referendum 71, the effort to overturn the state’s “everything but marriage” law for same-sex couples.)

The problem is, this is a sideshow. The dispute over Washington public records law is effectively settled, as it pertains to petitions. The main show lies in federal court, and it revolves around the Constitution.

The secretary of state’s office has indeed been wrong to the extent that it has suggested the release of petitions has been standard practice in Washington. As Eyman asserts, none were released until three years ago, starting with Initiative 917 – the “Save Our $30 Tabs” measure. But the idea wasn’t to spank Eyman personally.
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