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MyVote accessibility upgrade draws applause

by David Ammons | April 29th, 2016 11:53 am | No Comments


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The Washington State Elections Division is drawing acclaim for accessibility upgrades to the state’s popular online voter information tool called MyVote.

Two of the nation’s leading election blogs called attention to the recent re-launch of the portal. Mindy Moretti over at ElectionlineWeekly called it “mobile-friendly, easy-to-use and, importantly, accessible.” She wrote that because the site was “already a pretty comprehensive personalized voter tool, the state didn’t need to expand any functionality and was instead able to focus on improving the user’s experience.” She noted that the upgrade was done within existing staff and budget, in-house.

Moretti’s piece was circulated nationally by election expert Doug Chapin at the prestigous Election Academy. His comment:

“Those of us in the field often talk about the desire to increase participation rates as high as possible; it only makes sense to ensure that the tools voters have available are usable and useful to everyone. Kudos to the team in Washington State for not only working to improve the MyVote site but doing so on an expedited basis knowing that voter interest will be sky-high this year. Thanks also to those advocates for voters with disabilities for both highlighting accessibility as an issue as well as working with election officials to make it happen.”

Secretary of State Kim Wyman, who had requested the upgrade, said she was gratified with the national attention for the project and hopes it will inspire similar accessibility advances around the country. The work was done in-house, on a very challenging timeline and in the midst of the heavy demands of the 2016 election cycle, she noted.

State Elections Director Lori Augino said her team met this week with the state Disability Advisory Committee to brief them and got positive feedback. She said one advisor called it a “super job” and another called it a model for other states and other state agencies. She added:

“They thanked us for taking this risk for all the right reasons and knocking it out of the park.”

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Holocaust survivor shares gripping story during talk at Capitol

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Henry Friedman shares his experiences about hiding from the Nazis during World War II. (Photos courtesy of Benjamin Helle)

Holocaust survivor Henry Friedman, who is featured in the Legacy Washington exhibit “Washington Remembers World War II,” gave a stirring and powerful presentation about his experiences.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman emceed Friedman’s presentation Wednesday at the state Capitol. She thanked Friedman for having the courage to share his story.

“The fact that he survived at all is a miracle,” Wyman said, noting that by liberation from the Nazis in 1944, only 88 of 10,000 Jews from his hometown in Brody, Poland, were alive.

“Henry Friedman could have spent the rest of his life recovering from a trauma that – as one of our veterans put it so well – is simply ‘un-understandable. Instead he chose to tell his story – in a book, in community lectures and to anyone willing to listen,” Wyman said.

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Friedman and Secretary of State Wyman after his presentation.

TVW covered Friedman’s presentation and will have it available for viewing on its website.

Friedman is renowned for his role in creating the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. Friedman also is a founder of the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center in Seattle.

Friedman wrote a book about his life and Holocaust experiences entitled “I’m No Hero.” Copies of his book were sold in the Capitol’s State Reception Room at the presentation event.

Wyman told the audience that Legacy Washington is in the midst of a fundraising campaign to publish a printed compilation of the stories featured in the Washington Remembers World War II exhibit. The printed book will be accessible through libraries and other organizations nationwide, she said. Those interested in donating should contact Legacy Washington’s Laura Mott at (360) 902-4171 or laura.mott@sos.wa.gov.

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When Ross Perot campaigned in Washington

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Ross Perot during his 1992 speech in Olympia. (Photo courtesy Washington State Digital Archives)

The upcoming Washington Presidential Primary is generating tons of buzz and anticipation as candidates are expected to hold rallies in our state in the coming days and weeks. It’s always exciting when presidential candidates come to our corner of the country!

With the PrezPrimary looming, a recent visit to our Digital Archives turned up this classic shot: Remember Ross Perot? He was the Texas multimillionaire who ran for president as a Reform Party candidate in 1992. The photo shows him in Olympia in July of 1992 at a big rally on the Capitol steps. Perot had an impact, winning 24 percent of the vote in Washington, among his strongest showings in the country. He gathered nearly 20 million votes nationwide and finished third. That year’s election saw Bill Clinton defeat incumbent George H.W. Bush to become America’s 42nd president.

This photo of Perot is found in the State Archives’ General Subjects Photograph Collection, 1845-2005.

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New Legacy WA profile highlights young winemakers

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Amy Alvarez-Wampfler and Victor Palencia. (Photo courtesy of  Greg Lehman)

Our Legacy Washington program has just released its latest profile in its special series, “Who Are We?.” The profile tells the inspiring story of two young Latino winemakers and their mentor who helped them realize their dreams.

The profile on winemakers Amy Alvarez-Wampfler and Victor Palencia and their former teacher, the late Stan Clarke, is written by Legacy Washington Chief Historian John C. Hughes. The profile is being released just ahead of the Yakima Valley’s Spring Barrel Tasting weekend, April 22-24.

The profile can be viewed here.

“Washington is world-famous for its wines, and John’s profile on Amy and Victor gives viewers a taste of their journey from starting in the wine industry to becoming respected and acclaimed winemakers,” Wyman said. “This story celebrates their well-earned success as winemakers, as well as Eastern Washington’s rise as a premier wine-growing region.”

In 1980, Washington had 4,000 acres of wine grapes and 19 wineries. Today, there are more than 870 wineries, capitalizing on 60,000 acres of prime vineyards. Washington is now second only to California in the production of premium American wines.

Alvarez-Wampfler, at 35, is one of the top winemakers in the Northwest and a wine-magazine cover girl. Despite having a young daughter and facing a long commute, she was one of the first to enroll in Walla Walla Community College’s Institute for Enology & Viticulture. The two-year program has become one of the most successful winemaking schools in America.

Alvarez-Wampfler later made her mark at Columbia Crest and Sinclair Estate Vineyards. Her husband, Dan Wampfler, became a star at Dunham Cellars. Now they’re working together at Abeja Winery in Walla Walla, one of the Northwest’s most-acclaimed small wineries.

Palencia, who came across the border from Mexico to the U.S. on his father’s shoulders as a toddler, worked in a vineyard during high school in Prosser, immersing himself in chemistry and science. He admits to skipping school “a couple of times” to meet with Clarke before enrolling at Walla Walla CC and studying in the wine program that Clarke ran.

Palencia, 31, now oversees operations and winemaking at J&S Crushing in Mattawa, which also owns Jones of Washington. His wines for Jones and his own winery, Palencia Wine Co. in Walla Walla, are consistent award winners.

“Who are we?” is a historical project that documents the lives of a diverse group of Washingtonians. It includes a series of online profiles and an interactive exhibit opening on August 25 in the Secretary of State’s Office in the Capitol. Both will be accessible for free at organizations across Washington and around the country.

In a state of 7 million people, ‘Who AreWe?’ examines the lives of extraordinary people who have made Washington a remarkable place.

The project’s first profile is on the Rev. Dr. Samuel B. McKinney, a longtime Seattle civil rights activist. The profile can be viewed here.

The second profile is on Duane French, a resilient quadriplegic who remade his life and fought for the rights of the terminally ill. The profile on French can be viewed here.

The “Who are we?” webpage can be viewed here.

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Corporations Division: Beware of business compliance postcard

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The Office of Secretary of State’s Corporations and Charities Division is receiving calls and e-mails from customers regarding a postcard received in the mail from the following company: Business Compliance Division, 170 S. Lincoln, Spokane, WA 99201.

Patrick Reed, operations manager for the Corporations Division, said the postcard looks like an official card, similar to those sent by the division to nonprofit corporations and limited partnerships (LPs). Reed pointed out these Business Compliance Division postcards do not come from the Office of Secretary of State or any other government agency.

Reed said people should do the following if they receive the postcard:
• Ask them what service they provide and what they are doing with your corporate and payment information.
• Do not confuse these notices with the real annual report postcards sent by the Office of Secretary of State, or letters by the Business Licensing Service.

Washington state’s annual report fee for profit corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs) is $71 when filed through the Business License Service. Nonprofit corporations ($10) and LPs ($60) may file annual reports at the Office of Secretary of State here. A Certificate of Existence (good standing) is $20 when ordered from the Office of Secretary of State and may be ordered online.

Reed said if you feel a fraud is taking place, contact the state Office of Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division here.

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Wyman helps honor naval award winner

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(Left to right: Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent, Lt. Commander Medlin, Willis A. Lent and Secretary Wyman) (Photo courtesy of Laura Mott)

Secretary Wyman was honored to be part of a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda to honor an officer on the USS Maine, a submarine stationed at Naval Base Kitsap, Bangor.

Lt. Commander Jeremy C. Medlin, a weapons officer on the Maine, received the Willis A. Lent Trophy Thursday. The award is named after Admiral Willis A. Lent, a submarine commanding officer during World War II. Lent was the first submarine commander to receive two Navy crosses.

Presenting the award was Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent, a distant cousin of Admiral Lent. Attending the ceremony was Admiral Lent’s son, Willis A. Lent. The annual award is given under the auspices of the Commander Submarine Force Pacific Fleet, the Lent family and the local Bremerton/Olympic Council of the Navy League.

WA PrezPrimary Voters’ Pamphlet coming soon

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Washington’s Presidential Primary Voters’ Pamphlet will begin hitting mailboxes this Saturday.

The slim publication will be going out to nearly 3.3 million households. The pamphlet includes a concise explanation of how the PrezPrimary works, including the requirement that voters mark a political party declaration, sign it, and then proceed to vote for one candidate on the party list of their choice.

The pamphlet gives each of the candidates a page to provide a statement, background, and contact information. The Democrats are Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Republicans are Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Donald Trump and Ben Carson. Carson did not submit a signed form withdrawing from the Washington Primary, though he has dropped out of the race.

The voter guide is available in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese, as well as in text and audio format for voters with disabilities. All can be found here.

Monday, April 25, is the online and mail-in voter registration deadline for those not already signed up or who wish to update their information. The online tool is www.vote.wa.gov. The Online Voters Guide is also available within www.MyVote.wa.gov

About 65,000 ballots already have gone out to military and overseas voters, and some are already coming back into county election offices. The rest of the 4 million registered voters will automatically get ballots beginning May 4.  Return postmark deadline is May 24 and those who use drop boxes have until 8 p.m. May 24.

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Special election ends April 26

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While many in Washington are looking forward to the state’s first Presidential Primary in eight years, about a quarter of the state’s registered voters have a chance to vote in an earlier election — the April Special Election.

Ballots have been sent to 981,687 voters (24 percent of the state’s registered voters) in 22 of Washington’s 39 counties. Voters need to return their ballots at drop boxes or have them postmarked by April 26 in order to count.

The special election includes 48 ballot measures in 45 voting districts. Most of them are your typical levy and bond measures, but Pierce County has an advisory vote that asks whether the Pierce County Council should allow production, processing and retail sales of marijuana in specified zones in unincorporated Pierce County.

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WA voters: 4 million strong!

 

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Secretary of State Kim Wyman and Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson headlined an event to celebrate a milestone: Washington has surpassed 4 million registered voters for the first time in state history.

During the ceremony at Anderson’s offices in Tacoma on Monday, Wyman and Anderson introduced the 4 millionth voter, 18-year-old Katarina Gruber of Pierce County. Gruber went to Pierce County Elections on her birthday in late March to register to vote in person.

“This is a big moment for Washington voters,” Wyman said.  “We are 4 million strong! Thanks to outreach efforts by the state and county elections offices, we’ve seen a steady increase in voter registrations over the years. We have our state’s Presidential Primary coming soon, as well as a General Election that features President, Governor and other statewide offices, legislative and other races on the ballot, so I strongly encourage people to register to vote and take part in these important and exciting upcoming elections.”

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Secretary Wyman (left) and Pierce County Auditor Julie Anderson (right) with Katarina Gruber, honored as Washington’s 4 millionth voter.

Wyman praised Gruber, a senior at Clover Park High School in Lakewood, for taking time on her 18th birthday to register in person at her county elections office.

“That shows a real commitment to voting. When people register to vote at a young age, they tend to become lifelong voters and engage in community life. We hope young adults follow Katarina’s lead and register now and then have their voices heard by voting,” Wyman said.

“It’s gratifying to see the person behind the record!” Anderson said. “Katarina’s intentionality is inspiring. She very intentionally registered and I absolutely know that she will be a regular voter. She is truly engaged.”

“I thought it was important to vote because as American citizens we all have a voice,” Gruber said. “Voting gives us that voice and you can best believe that I am not going to live in this country and not use my voice.”

April 25 is the deadline for online or mail-in voter registrations or address changes or other registration updates before May’s Washington Presidential Primary. People can learn more about registering online or via mail by going here.

Those who are not registered to vote in Washington have until May 16 to register in person at their county elections office in order to vote in the Presidential Primary. Information about county elections offices can be found here.

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WA Capitol demonstrations, then and now

1948 Capitol protesters

Over the decades, Washington’s Capitol has seen its share of protests and demonstrations. Several times each year, groups gather on the steps of the Legislative Building to exercise their rights and let others know how they feel.

The two photos here capture how times have changed in terms of dress.

The above photo, taken in 1948, shows a group of senior citizens carrying petition sheets and demonstrating in favor of Initiative 172, the Citizens’ Security Act of 1948. (Voters approved it.) That shot is part of the Susan Parish Photograph Collection, 1889-1990, and is found in the State Digital Archives.

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The bottom shot features a group of community college students protesting potential tuition increases on the Capitol steps in 2011 while the Legislature was in session.

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When Edgar Martinez came to Olympia

Edgar Martinez and Gov Gregoire 2005

With baseball season under way, we’re remembering the day when one of the most beloved Seattle Mariners of all time visited the Capitol.

Just months after he retired from an 18-year MLB career, all with Seattle, Edgar Martinez came to Olympia on April 6, 2005. While here, he was photographed with Gov. Chris Gregoire in her office and later signing autographs for fans in the front lobby of the Governor’s Office. Both photos are found in the State Archives. Martinez also signed autographs and had his photo taken with legislators and lege staffers who thoroughly enjoyed seeing the two-time American League batting champ up close and in person.

Edgar signing autographs 2005

Martinez, now the Mariners’ hitting coach, was beloved as much for his nice-guy demeanor and funny local TV ads (“It’s a light bat) as he was for his batting prowess.

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