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Wyman, county auditors reach out to potential voters

by Brian Zylstra | September 17th, 2014 2:06 pm | No Comments


Are you a Washington resident who is eligible to vote but hasn’t registered yet? Expect a postcard in the mail soon that encourages you to register in time for this fall’s General Election.

That’s the word from state Elections Division officials, who are joining Washington’s 39 county auditors to mail voter registration information to 210,000 eligible residents who haven’t registered yet. About one-third of the recipients are 18-year-olds and 60 percent are under 30. The postcards are being mailed through Sept. 24.

“We hope that citizens receiving the postcard will realize how easy it is to register online to vote here in Washington,” said Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “Registering is that key step that will allow them to speak through their ballot on the important races and measures facing voters this fall.”

The eye-catching postcard will contain information on how to register to vote, including eligibility requirements, the web address for online registration and a toll-free number if the recipient wants to request a paper form or has questions about the postcard.

Oct. 6 is the deadline for online or mail-in voter registrations and updates before this fall’s General Election ending Nov. 4. Oct. 27 is the last day for persons currently not registered to apply in person at their county elections office. continue reading


Happy Constitution Day!


(Photos courtesy of Washington State Archives)

It doesn’t receive nearly as much attention as Independence Day. It doesn’t offer an excuse to have a barbecue and shoot off fireworks. But Sept. 17 is a very important date in American history. It’s the date when the United States Constitution was signed by 39 delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787.

Go here to learn more about the U.S. Constitution, including a closer look at the delegates and the issues involved in creating and ratifying the Constitution and the new government it established.

Here in Washington, our state constitution is kept safe in our State Archives. When we celebrate Washington’s 125th birthday as a state on Nov. 11 at the Capitol, the original copy of the Washington Constitution will make a rare public appearance at the debut of a new Legacy Washington history exhibit in the lobby of the Secretary of State’s Office.  The two photos from the State Archives’ Ben Helle should whet your civic appetite.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman urged students and indeed all Washington residents to familiarize themselves with the state and federal constitutions, calling them “our foundational documents so important to our self-government and protection of our liberties.”


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Golfers in CFD tourney help veterans charity


CFD Program Manager Philip Kerrigan (left) and Special Programs Director Stephanie Horn (second from right) with the winning four-man team (left to right): John Pazer, Andrew Brown, Thomas Bishop and Rob Hannigen. (Photo courtesy of Heather Lucas)

They came. They played golf. And they helped veterans.

Not a bad way to spend a Saturday for 92 linksters who took part in the second-annual Golf for Veterans Tournament run by the Washington State Combined Fund Drive. The tourney last weekend was held at Eagles Pride Golf Course, located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and voted one of the top 10 military golf courses by Travel and Leisure magazine.

Participants and donors contributed $13,489 for the Wounded Warrior Project, about double what was raised in last year’s tourney.

The CFD staff thanks all of the supporting donors and individuals who helped make the event run smoothly.

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Check out new edition of Simply Washington!


Several years ago, we unveiled a fun, colorful booklet called Simply Washington, which highlights and explains many aspects of our great state.

Not being ones to sit still, we decided it was time to create a whole different look and feel to this publication, which is popular with teachers, students and tourists. We’re pleased to unveil the new and improved Simply Washington online! It’s available online here for free!

For the revamped edition, we’ve gone with slightly smaller dimensions than the previous SW, while adding more pages to make it a 56-page book.

Like its predecessor, this online book focuses on many facets of WA, from our history going back to pre-territorial days, to profiles on key figures in our state government, the basics of voting, and how laws are passed. We also have fun sections on our internationally renowned companies, agricultural and tech industries, plus sports, arts and entertainment, outdoor recreation and much more.

The new Simply Washington edition was designed and produced by Janet Lee, a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design, who volunteered her time and talent to create this wonderful new book.

Simply Washington is a great civics resources for students, WA residents and out-of-state visitors. All of the information is in the public domain, so it’s available for you and others to use as you wish! You can even print it out directly from our homepage.

We will be fundraising to produce a print version for schools.


Drivers beware: I-5 will be mess in Olympia next 2 weekends


This part of Interstate 5 in Olympia will face lane and ramp closures during the weekends of Sept. 12 and Sept. 19. Very long backups are expected. (Photos courtesy of Washington State Department of Transportation) 

We normally love to encourage people to come visit Olympia, especially our beautiful Capitol Campus. But if you’re driving on Interstate 5 during the next two weekends, make sure to avoid using the freeway in our state capital during that time.

That’s the word from the Washington State Department of Transportation. The busy I-5/US 101 interchange near Capitol Lake will undergo some much-needed bridge repair work those two weekends. Crews will replace a 171-foot-long bridge expansion joint that spans the width of the roadway. The concrete surrounding the 28-year-old joint has deteriorated where I-5 and 101 merge. The photo below shows how the concrete has become damaged.

Here is how motorists will be impacted this weekend:
• I-5 will be reduced to one lane in each direction between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. Friday through Sunday.
• During daytime hours on Saturday and Sunday, I-5 will be open to only two lanes in each direction.
• The Deschutes Parkway Southwest on-ramp to northbound I-5 will close from 10 p.m. Thursday to 5 p.m. Monday.
• The Henderson Avenue/14th Avenue Southeast on-ramp to southbound I-5 also will be closed from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.
• The US 101 on-ramp to northbound I-5 will be reduced to one lane from 10 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday.

Go here to learn more about the maintenance project and how it will affect motorists.


According to WSDOT, more than 276,000 vehicles use this stretch of I-5 on a typical weekend. About 190,000 vehicles travel on US 101 approaching I-5. WSDOT warns of backups as long as 14 miles on I-5 during these two weekends, so if you can avoid I-5 in and near Olympia during these weekends, do it!

WSDOT encourages people traveling between Seattle and Portland to consider taking an Amtrak Cascades train. Amtrak Cascades offers four round trips per day between those two cities.

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From Digital Archives: Classic Rainier climbing photos


(Photos courtesy of Digital Archives)

As the tallest peak in the Pacific Northwest and one that offers both challenging and comparatively easy routes, Mount Rainier is a magnet for mountain climbers near and far, novice or expert. During the summer, it’s common to see groups of climbers trudging up the mountain from Paradise in hopes of reaching the 14,411-foot summit and earning an amazing view of the surrounding mountains, steep valleys and lowlands below.

Our Digital Archives has some classic 1940-era photos of climbers on Rainier. The top photo shows a group of climbers near deep crevasses on Emmons Glacier, located on Rainier’s northeast slopes. The bottom photo features climbers near the foot of a glacier overlooking the Cascades toward Yakima Park.  The photos, both taken by Bert W. Huntoon, are found in the Progress Commission Photographs, 1937-1945.


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Historian to share story behind Capsule Keepers


Secretary of State Ralph Munro (left) and Gov. Booth Gardner with several of the Capsule Keepers during the Centennial Celebration in Olympia on Nov. 11, 1989. Standing behind Gardner is Knute Berger, who will give a talk Monday about  the history of the Capsule Keepers. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Archives)

Journalist and historian Knute “Skip” Berger is speaking in Olympia Monday (Sept. 8) at noon about the history and role of the Capsule Keepers, the group tasked with maintaining the state time capsule. The first group of Capsule Keepers was chosen in 1989 at age 10. Now, 25 years later, a new group will take on the responsibility during the celebration of Washington’s 125th anniversary on Nov. 11.

Berger’s talk, which also will cover how the new Keepers are being recruited, takes place at the State Capital Museum, 211 – 21st Ave. SW. The event is free, with a $2 suggested donation.

Our Capitol, now and way back then


The Legislative Building as it currently stands. (Photo courtesy of Katy Payne)

Washington’s Capitol, known as the Legislative Building, is well known for its grandeur and magnificence. As you stand on one of the 42 steps (the significance being because Washington was the 42nd state) leading to one of the massive 2,000-pound bronze front doors and look up, it might astound you how much larger the building is in person than it seems in photographs. Rising to 287 feet, it is the fifth tallest masonry dome in the world, and the tallest in North America.

The buildings on the Capitol Campus were designed in the early 1900s by Walter Wilder and Harry White, a pair of young, talented and inexperienced architects – the Olympia job was their first major commission. The impressive 54-acre landscape was a masterpiece of the Olmsted Brothers, landscape designers of various parks, universities and capitol grounds throughout the country.

The Legislative Building was completed in 1928 after six years of construction and $7,385,768.21 spent. To reconstruct the same building today using the same materials, it would cost over $1 billion – 135 times more money than was spent before!

Fun facts about the building:

-It would take 136 Olympic-sized swimming pools or 28 average-sized water towers to fill the Legislative Building completely with water.

-It would take just over 14 adult male giraffes, stacked on top of one another, to reach the top of the dome.

-The Legislative Building weighs 188,500,000 pounds, which is 10 times as much as Seattle’s Space Needle.

9-3-1924Leg Const 37

Legislative Building construction on September 3, 1924. (Photo courtesy of State Archives)

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Legislative Building’s progress two years later, in 1926. Photo courtesy of State Archives)

1926 Dome Const (2)

Dome construction in 1926. (Photo courtesy of State Archives)

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Anniversary for one of WA’s most scenic highways


Governor Dan Evans addresses the crowd at Newhalem at the opening of the North Cascades Highway in 1972. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Archives)

One of Washington’s most scenic highways is celebrating its birthday. On Sept. 2, 1972 – 42 years ago – the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20) opened to the public.

While it is relatively young compared to other highways, it was a long time in the making.

In 1895, the project received its first state dollars, and the State Road Commission took to the drawing board. In 1897, repetitive floods took out most of the 40-foot-wide wagon road that had been roughed out along the Cascade River in the previous year. Feeling defeated, no work was added until eight years later, when a road was built along the Methow River from Pateros to Harts Pass. This road remained on the state highway system for nearly four decades, until the end of the 1940s when the Legislature removed it from the system.

In 1956, Ike Munson, who had chosen the path the highway should take after surveying various areas, took the state highway commissioners on a horseback ride along his proposed route. George D. Zahn, a former state senator, tagged along on the trip and fell in love with the landscape surrounding the would-be highway. Zahn then worked relentlessly on getting the highway finished by repeatedly securing funding from numerous public sources.


A marching band of children celebrating the opening of the highway. (Photo courtesy of Washington State Archives)

With financing coming in, work began again in 1959. Workers traveled the length of the highway in groups, building it section by section. One promoter of the highway, Jack Wilson of Mazama, said the crews he helped transport worked 10 days straight and then had four days off. Crews worked tirelessly like this for the next 13 years, battling enemies such as mosquitoes, hornets and rattlesnakes – but they still managed to finish without the loss of a single life.

Over the eight decades it took to transform the highway from an idea into a completed product, an estimated $33 million was spent – but what came from it, a road trip boasting gorgeous scenic views and plenty of recreational opportunities, is probably more than the original planners could have asked for.


North Cascades Highway. (Photo courtesy Washington State Department of Transportation)


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Time’s running out for Capitol botanical tour

Tree Tour photo

Every day, the Washington State Capitol is open to the public for tours of the Legislative Building. Beginning in the middle of August, a cool new tour was added – a botanical tour of the whole lush campus. In a state known for its abundance of trees and plantings, it only makes sense that the Capitol Campus would be a shining example of Washington’s love of nature.

The Olmsted Brothers of Central Park fame were the original designers after all.

Tours are led by state horticulturist Brent Chapman, who knows about most of the 120 tree species that grace the Capitol grounds overlooking Budd Inlet. The trees, as Chapman explains on the tour, tell stories of the Capitol’s history.  Many of the trees have been around since the landscape was first designed in 1928 by the Olmsteds. Chapman helps guests look through a landscape designer’s eye by noting how the trees were intentionally positioned on the grand north side of the Legislative Building to help frame and provide scale for the dome.

Not only popular with the public, this tour has also attracted state workers who are interested in learning more about the Capitol’s history. After taking the tour, Adam Noble of the Office of the Secretary of State, said the biggest takeaway for him was “learning the practice and forethought of what species they planted, as well as the original intent of the Olmsted brothers in placing specific trees where they would fit best around the buildings.”

The botanical tour, like the other tours of the Capitol Campus, are free and open to everyone. But you will need to hurry to experience this fair weather tour – it is only offered through September 26 on Tuesdays and Fridays at 11 a.m, departing from the front steps of the Capitol, on the north side.

For those who miss their chance for a tour with Chapman, self-guided tours are always encouraged – and tree tour brochures are available near the gift shop in the Legislative Building.

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Secretary Wyman certifies ’14 Primary

Kim certifies 2014 primary

Secretary of State Kim Wyman, the state’s chief elections officer, has certified the returns of the 2014 Washington Primary.

The 39 counties tallied 1,222,710 ballots, 31.15 percent of the state’s registered voters. That is considerably lower than the 40 percent average of the two previous mid-term primaries, although both of those elections had U.S. Senate races to generate more television ads and spur greater voter attention.

A much larger turnout is expected in the fall, when final winners will be determined and statewide measures, including two rival gun measures and a class-size reduction plan, will be on the ballot.

The returns are here, and will be updated with the handful of districts where a write-in candidate qualified for the November General Election. They include House districts 1, 6, 14 and 16.

Wyman thanked all who voted in the Primary, including those in the military or overseas.  She added:

“As a longtime elections administrator, I love every opportunity for the people to give their opinions on the best candidates and their favored position on ballot measures.  So I throw down a challenge for every registered voter to take part in the fall General Election. Register, do your homework, and get engaged. Self-government works best when we all take part.”




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The Washington Office of the Secretary of State’s blog provides from-the-source information about important state news and public services. This space acts as a bridge between the public and Secretary Kim Wyman and her staff, and we invite you to contribute often to the conversation here.

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