AdWatch: Secretary of State accused of voter suppression

October 18, 2016 GMT

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Tina Podlodowski, the Democratic candidate for secretary of state, has released a TV ad in the Seattle media market this week against Republican incumbent Kim Wyman that paints her as a partisan with ties to Republican nominee Donald Trump.

TITLE: “Act.”

LENGTH: 30 seconds.

AIRING: The ad started this week in the Seattle media market, according to the Podlodowski campaign.

SCRIPT: Announcer: Kim Wyman pretends to be nonpartisan but here’s the truth.

Wyman, speaking at a debate earlier this year: I am a Republican.

Announcer: So it’s no surprise that Wyman proposed a voter ID law that Republicans use to suppress voters. And Wyman wasted $11 million taxpayer dollars on a presidential primary that only helped Donald Trump.

Trump voice: I like that.


Announcer: Democrat Tina Podlodowski will make helping people vote her top priority. Tina will promote same day voter registration and pre-paid postage for ballots. Tina Podlodowski. Democrat for Secretary of State. Paid for by Voters for Tina. Democrat.

KEY IMAGES: The ad begins with an image of Wyman at a debate, saying “I am a Republican.” It then moves to her face, above which appear the words “Wyman Proposed Voter ID Law Republicans Use to Suppress Voters,” citing a Sept. 30 Associated Press article. Also shown is a chart with a breakdown of groups who don’t have photo ID, citing MSNBC. It then cuts to a scene with Trump standing behind a lectern that says “Only Republican in Race” as signs that say “Voted for Trump” pop up around him. The ad then cuts to scenes of Podlodowski talking with voters.

ANALYSIS: The ad implies Wyman has shied away from saying she’s a Republican. The scene in the ad is Wyman at a televised debate with Podlodowski earlier this year in which she notes she is a proud Republican, but that she approaches the job in a nonpartisan way. “Elections are more important than partisan politics,” she said at that same debate.

The ad then moves on to discuss Wyman’s recent announcement that she would seek legislation related to a 2005 federal law known as REAL ID that requires state driver’s licenses and ID cards to have security enhancements and be issued to people who can prove they are legally in the United States. Washington, which is not in compliance with that law, is the only state in the country that does not require proof of legal presence in the U.S. to get a standard state driver’s license or ID, and there is currently no way for elections officials to verify citizenship.

Lawmakers from both parties have been working on the issue, but have struggled to reach agreement as a 2018 deadline that would require the state’s residents to show additional identification if they want to board a commercial aircraft looms.


There is no mention of voter suppression in the AP article the ad cites. When asked for additional citation, the Podlodowski campaign provided links to three additional sources: A Mother Jones/Brennan Center for Justice chart on people without photo ID that ran on, a story by The Hill about the Republican Party’s official platform formally endorsing laws requiring voters to show identification when they cast ballots, and a New York Times story about voter ID laws in other states related to requiring a photo ID at the polls. None of the stories cited specifically referenced REAL ID or Washington state, which votes by mail.

The ad also implies that Wyman helped the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, by holding the presidential primary when he was the only one left in the Republican contest. Wyman, the lone Republican statewide elected official on the West Coast, has pointedly said she won’t advocate for or against any candidates this year “because I’m going to have to oversee that election.”

“My opponent has been trying to tie me to Trump ever since he got in the race,” Wyman said Tuesday. “Look at my track record. I’ve been very consistent and fair and accurate. She’s trying to bring partisanship into this.”

Wyman notes that she had no authority to cancel the presidential primary.

State law requires that the primary — which was created by a citizen initiative to the Legislature in 1989 — be held on the fourth Tuesday in May of a presidential year unless the Legislature cancels it. While the Legislature has done that before, most recently in 2012 for budgetary reasons, majority Republicans in the Senate and majority Democrats in the House did not advance any bills to do that for this election cycle. The $11.5 million price tag for the presidential primary was approved by both chambers and signed off on by Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee. The Republican field was still crowded when the Legislature adjourned mid-April of this year, so lawmakers would have had to come back into special session to cancel the election.

Last year, Wyman had sought to move the primary to earlier in the year, to March. That effort was opposed by Democrats and failed to get the two-thirds vote required by the Presidential Primary Date Selection Committee.

Ad citations provided Tuesday by the Podlodowski campaign note Wyman told a newspaper editorial board last August that she would seek to cancel the primary if it wasn’t moved from May. Washington has both a presidential primary and a caucus system, but Democrats use only their caucus system to allocate their delegates at the national convention. Republicans allocated all of their delegates from the statewide primary.

Wyman noted that there were more than a dozen candidates still in the Republican contest and a handful of Democrats still competing when the Legislature was in session earlier this year and because of the enhanced interest in the race, she said the primary was still meaningful to the 1.4 million voters who participated.





Kim Wyman campaign:

Tina Podlodowski campaign: