Thoughts Before Election Day

As we move through the last week of the campaign, I want to share some random thoughts. Yes, we will be glad when November 4 arrives and voting has finished, but votes will remain to be counted after that day.<

First, a special thank you to all who have supported my reelection campaign with contributions, personal encouragement, putting a sign in your yard, and voting for me. It is truly an honor to serve as a state senator. I keep reminding myself that there are only 147 legislators who pass< laws that impact over seven million residents. That is one reason I often stop in the Legislative Building rotunda and marvel at the beautiful dome and think about the special honor I have received. Serving in the legislature is not for personal reward, although it is rewarding; it is about setting policies that will make lives better for future generations. What I vote on in 2021 will have a bigger impact on my six year-old grandson, Rory, than me.

Most candidates run for office with the goal of improving our ways of life and not for personal gains. (I say most, because I cannot in good conscience put the current occupant of the White House in that category.) But if you look at candidates in Washington State, I think that is mostly true. Democrats and Republicans have differing views and ideas how we improve our ways of life. Loren Culp has much different views than Jay Inslee and I have much different views from Gary Holland, but I think each of us have what we consider the best interests of the state at heart. In the Washington Legislature over 90% of the bills we act on pass with a unanimous or near-unanimous vote. We work together and sometimes have honest disagreements on some major issues. However, at the end of the day, most of us in both parties get along and try our best to get things done. I often say there are some Republicans I enjoy having a beer with than some Democrats.

Voting is the most important of the many rights we have. We often forget what people in other countries fight for to gain the right to vote, while too many of us take voting for granted. The people of Chile just approved a new constitution that restores many of the freedoms taken away years ago by the Pinochet dictatorship; it took a near revolution to accomplish this. It is gratifying to see the long lines in many of our states as people wait to cast their votes, some waiting 10 hours or more. Democracy only works when people vote!

Election rumors will fly around during the coming week. Do not believe what you hear until it can be verified by a reliable source. Have faith in our state’s election system and county auditors.

We have the best election system in the country. In Washington State, we do not have long lines because we vote by mail, send out ballots weeks before the election and provide each voter with a postage-paid return envelope. There are over 500 safe and secure postage-free ballot drop boxes across the state. There are no longer artificial deadlines for voter registration. We now have Election Day voter registration so one can register and vote up to, and including on, Election Day. We are the second state in the country to enact a state voting rights act that increases opportunities for candidates of color to have a level playing field when running for local office.

Once your ballot is received at the auditor’s office, your signature is matched and verified by at least two people trained by the Washington State Patrol using signatures from the Department of Licensing and other agencies. If you forget to sign your ballot or there is a question about your ballot, the county auditor notifies you and provides an opportunity for you to fix it.<

Verified ballots are separated from the outside envelopes and then removed from the security sleeve to protect privacy. They are then prepared to be fed into the ballot counting machines. However, no votes are tallied until after 8:00 PM on Election Day. Privacy is protected and ballots are locked in secure areas before and after counting. Finally, our vote counting machines are not connected to the Internet, making it impossible for hackers to skew the results.

Many people have fought hard to protect the right to vote, and it is a right not just a privilege. Make sure you exercise that right and get your family and friends to do the same.

Working together we will make Washington a better place to live, raise a family, and have a good job. And, again, thank you for letting me serve as your state senator.