Jeff Winmill grew up in a small town in Idaho. His family’s story is one of hard work and the Western values of fairness and service. He is the grandson of a combat veteran, a nurse and an ironworker. Jeff’s father grew up on a small dairy farm, went to law school, and was appointed a U.S. District Court judge in Idaho in 1995.
Inspired by his father, Jeff worked hard and graduated from Idaho State University and earned his law degree from The George Washington Law School. He then began his legal career as an energy attorney, helping wind and solar companies navigate the complex laws and regulations governing the energy sector.
But he always felt called to public service. In 2008, Jeff was one of the first staff members on President Obama’s presidential campaign, where he traveled across the country with the president, helping to bring his message of hope and change to millions of Americans. In 2012, Jeff served as legal counsel for ballot access for the Obama campaign, after which he returned to the campaign trail to serve on the president’s team at the Democratic National Convention and the three presidential debates with Governor Mitt Romney. During President Obama’s final term in office, Jeff traveled with the president to the G20 Summit in Turkey and the state visit in Vietnam, where he was reminded of how fortunate Americans are to live in a country where the freedoms of opinion, voting, and speech are recognized.
In 2016, Jeff continued his election law work as a voter protection attorney for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the swing state of Colorado. There, he saw firsthand how voting can be manipulated and how marginalized communities’ access to voting can be limited when elections aren’t properly administered.
2016 was a wake-up call for Jeff. After the election of Donald Trump, with the evidence of Russian hacking, and President Trump’s own dishonest and divisive campaign rhetoric, Jeff felt compelled to use his election protection experience on behalf of Washingtonians. As the Director of Voter Protection for the Washington State Democrats, Jeff worked in all 39 counties to protect voting rights during the 2018 midterm elections. In that role, Jeff spent numerous hours poring through Washington’s election laws and regulations and advocating on behalf of voters before county election officials.
He will bring this same commitment and passion for voting and effective government to the Secretary of State’s office.
Jeff and his wife Dr. Chaitra Ujjani live in Seattle, where she works as an oncologist at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance/Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington Medical Center.