Sam Reed has served state's citizens very well

Secretary of State Reed is calling it a career when his term ends in 18 months.

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It wouldn't be surprising to look up public servant in the dictionary (or in a Google search) to find a picture of Washington's Secretary of State Sam Reed.

After all, Reed -- a Republican now in his third term in office -- has made a career of putting citizens first. This is most noticeable in the various changes he has pushed to make the state's election system better and more accessible.

And, perhaps most importantly, Reed has overseen the Secretary of State's Office in an independent, nonpartisan way.

The 70-year-old Reed announced this week that he would not be seeking re-election.

But he said he intends to finish the final 18 months of his term working to further improve the state's elections system and overseeing the state archives, the state library and registration of corporations.

We have no doubt that is true. Reed was in Walla Walla earlier this month to meet with elected officials and the public. Reed was bubbling with enthusiasm.

That in itself is impressive for a public servant who has spent over a decade as a statewide elected official, 23 years as Thurston County's auditor and served from 1969 until 1975 as the assistant secretary of state.

Reed has been a staunch advocate on behalf of the state's voters. Reed has taken on the political parties -- including his own -- to ensure that voters can vote in primaries without selecting party ballots.

In addition, Reed has shown strong leadership in reforming the election system in an effort to reduce fraud and other problems. In the wake of the flawed gubernatorial election of 2004, Reed worked with the Legislature to implement reforms and safeguards.

Reed's office launched a statewide registration system to replace the piecemeal system in which the information was kept only by the counties. In just two years, more than 400,000 improper voter registrations have been removed from Washington's voter rolls, including duplicates, deceased voters and felons.

Washington's elections are more secure and voter-friendly under Reed's watch.

He has also taken extraordinary steps to preserve the state's history.

Reed successfully lobbied the Legislature to secure funds for the Washington State Heritage Center, which he envisions as a place where all can experience the past, back to the days when Washington was a territory.

Reed fought the proposed closure of the Washington State Library, agreeing to take on the library as part of his office. It had been run as an agency under the governor's control. The State Library, which has been open since 1853, is home to historical treasures such as journals from the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Reed also opened the nation's first state government digital archives to permanently preserve the electronic records of government.

Sam Reed has done the people's work and done it well for more than 40 years. And we expect he will continue to do so until the day he leaves office.

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