Citing what he called the "toxic environment" surrounding the King County elections operation, embattled Dean Logan says he is resigning as the director of the county's elections to take the No. 2 elections job in Los Angeles.
His resignation is effective July 14.
Logan's decision, which was revealed on Monday, caused County Executive Ron Sims to delay — by at least a year — moving the county to a virtually all-mail voting system, a plan that has ignited a political battle between Democrats and Republicans in Seattle.
Logan, 38, made known his planned departure in an interview with a local daily newspaper. He has run King County elections since September 2003. He wrote a letter announcing his resignation to Sims on Monday.
Logan was the center of controversy after the hotly contested 2004 governor's election won by Democrat Chris Gregoire by 133 votes and intensified again recently over Sims' vote-by-mail plan.
Sims had planned for an August 2007 rollout of the vote-by-mail system, which the County Council, after several delays, is scheduled to vote on next week.
Republicans blamed Logan and Sims, a Democrat, for Republican Dino Rossi's narrow defeat to Gregoire in the governor's election. Some council Republicans asked for Logan to resign.
Republicans noted that Logan once was a Democratic elected official, Kitsap County clerk. Logan got the King County job after serving as state elections director for two years under Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed and once worked for Reed's Republican predecessor, Ralph Munro.
Democrats opposed Sims' plan to make King the 35th of Washington's 39 counties to switch to all-mail voting. The plan was backed by the council's five majority Democrats but opposed by its four Republicans.
On Monday, Sims told the same local daily that Logan's departure, coupled with other vacancies in the elections office, "is a major setback for us on vote by mail."
"I think the earliest we're going to achieve it now is 2008," Sims said. "We're going to be very methodical, and I'm not even guaranteeing we'll do it in 2008."
The job of elections superintendent under Logan has been vacant for a year, and several vacancies exist in the department. Sims said they have been difficult to fill because of the negative publicity.
In his letter to Sims announcing his resignation, Logan said one of the factors was "the continuing struggle to manage the division in what remains a highly politicized and divided structure."
Sims said he thought Logan's concern "was that the environment had become so politically toxic that he felt that even if he succeeded, he wouldn't be beyond criticism for political reasons, and he didn't want to feel there was no upside to remaining."
Sims said Logan has always been in demand for jobs elsewhere and he's always been held in high esteem by elections people from around the nation.
Logan will become chief deputy to the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder-county clerk, working in the largest elections jurisdiction in the nation.
— The Associated Press