Heritage Foundation is dead wrong about WA’s election integrity

The Seattle Times - Local News

Science fiction and fantasy have long explored the idea of opposite earths — think “Star Trek’s” mirror universe or Superman’s Bizarro World. But it seems the power of former President Donald Trump’s lies about stolen elections have brought these inverted lands closer to our reality.

Where else but in an upside-down world would Washington rank toward the bottom on election security?

Yet, that’s where the Heritage Foundation places our state in its “election integrity scorecard.” Let’s be clear: The foundation’s scorecard is bunk, flat-out, unadulterated bunk.

That the once-credible conservative think tank is helping prop up Trump’s false claims is bad enough, worse is that those allegations continue to eat away at trust in democracy.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 69% of Republicans say that democracy is “in danger of collapse,” in part because of concerns over election integrity. A July Seattle Times poll of Washington voters found that among self-described Republicans, only 22% believed there was no fraud and that Joe Biden had won fairly.

These beliefs bode ill as we head into the November midterm elections and beyond.

“Americans need and deserve a transparent system in which fraud can be easily detected and false allegations of fraud can be easily dispelled,” the foundation wrote. “Americans need and deserve a system in which it is easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

This editorial board could not agree more. While every state can always improve its elections systems, the foundation’s rankings seem to equate ease of voting with fraud.

When you compare Tennessee — ranked No. 1 with an overall score of 84 — and Washington, ranked 45th with a score of 42, some of the biggest differences are in accessibility. Washington allows same-day registration, automatic registration and makes it easy to vote by mail.

Those are best practices when it comes to increasing voter participation. As far as integrity, Washington is also top tier.

There is a “whole process of checks and balances,” said Stuart Holmes, acting elections director for Secretary of State Steve Hobbs. “From federal certification of the voting system, all the way through that chain to postelection audits that are required.”

Preelection, the Office of the Secretary of State conducts periodic performance audits of each county to ensure they are following election law, and election administrators must go through a certification process.

During the election, voters can check the status of their ballot through the votewa.gov website; signatures that don’t match those on file are challenged and the voter is notified. Postelection, reports are produced that show how many ballots were received, how they were handled and whether the number of ballots counted corresponds to the number of voters who participated.

By design, several security steps are open to public scrutiny. Anyone interested can request to watch the preelection logic and accuracy test for voting systems, ballot processing, postelection audits that compare hand-counted ballot batches with the voting system numbers, and risk-limiting audits that compare randomly selected ballots to the voting system results.

Despite all the stolen election chatter, the good news is that overall, Washington voters continue to believe in the system. The state ranked third in primary participation — behind Wyoming, which had the high-profile Rep. Liz Cheney race on the ticket, and Kansas, which asked voters to weigh in on abortion.

Another positive? It’s also easy to orient yourself in an upside-down world. When you look at a list like Heritage’s, or listen to what Trump is saying, all you must do is flip it around and the truth will be revealed.

Paid for by the Committee to Re-elect Greg Kimsey PO Box 842, Vancouver WA 98666