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The Biden administration taps a top Republican official to lead election security

Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman on Tuesday was named to a top post overseeing election security within the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.
Ted S. Warren
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman on Tuesday was named to a top post overseeing election security within the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Throughout 2020, Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a lifelong Republican, wasn't having any of then-President Donald Trump's unrelenting and unsupported claims of election fraud. Now, the GOP official has been tapped by the Biden administration to help protect the nation's election system.

In a post on Twitter, Wyman announced she'll be stepping down from her current role on Nov. 19, to serve as the election security lead for the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

"The threats to our country's election system continue each day and they must be met with a combined effort by IT and cybersecurity experts alongside election professionals at the local, state and federal levels," Wyman said in a statement.

After losing the 2020 presidential election, Trump and his attorneys blasted the agency and its leaders for contradicting his conspiracy theories of rampant security breaches and voter fraud. That included ultimately firing former CISA Director Chris Krebs, another Republican who publicly insisted the election was run fairly, with no signs of cheating or interference.

On Tuesday, Krebs congratulated Wyman on the appointment, saying, "Wyman is the real deal and a true professional. Nice addition to the @CISAgov team as they continue to play a key role in defending democracy."

CISA Director Jen Easterly also saidshe is "beyond thrilled" to have Wyman join the agency.

"Kim's decades of experience, unparalleled expertise, & unimpeachable integrity have earned her bipartisan respect at every level of government."

Wyman told NPR in August that the nonstop conspiracy theories around the 2020 ballot were exhausting for election officials such as her.

"It doesn't matter what I present to critics or challengers. It doesn't matter what the answer is. It will always be something new," Wyman said. "It's never-ending. And that's what worries me about 2020: How do we move on from here?"

Wyman, who is the sole Republican to hold statewide office in Washington, is nationally regarded as an expert on mail-in balloting and security.

Following record low voting turnout across the state in 2016, Wyman was instrumental in modernizing the Washington's voter registration database. That included enacting same-day voter registration, automatic voter registration and a future voter program that pre-registers 16- and 17-year-olds to vote.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.