Trump makes appearance in Secretary of State debate

VIDEO: Washington Secretary of State candidates face off in debate

Incumbent Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman is in her second term. Democratic State Rep. Gael Tarleton is the challenger.

They debated before the Association of Washington Business.

“Our democracy is at stake. This is the most extraordinary election of my lifetime,” said Tarleton. She has served 12 years as a port commissioner and state representative.

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Wyman has spent 20 years as Thurston County Auditor and Secretary of State. “We need a secretary of state who is a protector of every vote and won’t put their finger on the scale in an election.”

Washington’s mail-in ballot system has put Republican Wyman in the spotlight because Republican President Donald Trump is attacking mail-in elections.

“This is the biggest scam in the history of politics. And I’m talking about beyond our nation,” Trump said recently.

Tarleton criticized Wyman, “We weed a Secretary of State who will stand up to Trump, who will stand up to attacks on that critical infrastructure of our right to vote.”

“My job isn’t to have a political battle on the merits of vote by mail elections or cybersecurity issues that we have addressed in the last four years, my job is to inspire confidence in our voters,” Wyman responded.

Both candidates agree on getting more people to vote. Despite voter frustrations with delayed results, both agree with the present system that allows ballots that arrive at elections offices after Election Day to be counted -- as long as they are postmarked by election day.

But they disagree on whether people still incarcerated in prison should be allowed to vote.

“Yes, I do, and I do because I do not believe they have lost their constitutional right to vote and be a part of the democracy that they are still in,” Tarleton said during the debate.

But Wyman is concerned about the implications. “You look at Walla Walla penitentiary, and you look at the number of inmates there, if they were all eligible to vote that would have a profound effect on Walla Walla County Elections,” she said.