Secretary of State

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Arizona: Lawmaker seeks to create office of lieutenant governor | Tucson Sentinel

Given Arizona’s history of turnover in the governor’s office, the state would benefit from having a lieutenant governor who runs on the same ticket, a state lawmaker says. Rep. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, has introduced two pieces of legislation to create the office, to require a party’s candidates for lieutenant governor and governor to run as a team and to put the lieutenant governor first in the line of succession. Some of the proposed changes would require approval by Arizona voters. Mesnard said having the governor and lieutenant governor run on the same ticket would be helpful for voters because it would mirror the way the president and vice president are elected. He said many voters don’t realize that the secretary of state is the next in line for the governor’s office. Read More


Oregon: Kate Brown’s deputy, Robert Taylor, takes over as acting secretary of state | The Oregonian

Kate Brown’s deputy, Robert Taylor, took over as Oregon’s acting secretary of state when Brown was sworn in as governor Wednesday. Taylor will manage the day-to-day responsibilities until the new governor chooses a more permanent successor, secretary of state spokesman Tony Green said. That will include planning and overseeing the elections, auditing public spending and serving as the state’s chief archivist. Robert TaylorRobert Taylor “The deputy secretary, in absence of the secretary, has all legal power of the secretary,” Green said. According to Green, Taylor spent most the day Wednesday preparing for the secretary of state’s annual budget presentation to the Legislature’s Joint Ways and Means Committee. Kristen Grainger, Brown’s new communications director, said she’s not sure when Brown plans to announce an appointment. Read More

Oregon: Who will take Kate Brown’s place as Oregon secretary of state? | The Oregonian

Speculation is brewing over who will succeed Kate Brown as Oregon’s next secretary of state when she becomes governor next week, replacing John Kitzhaber. Under the state constitution, Brown has the power to appoint her successor. It’s unknown whom she’ll choose — Brown addressed the media for less than 30 seconds Friday afternoon — but privately, lawmakers are discussing whom they’d like to see fill the post. Three Democrats, like Brown, are considered to be the leading contenders at the Capitol: House Majority Leader Val Hoyle of Eugene, Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum of Portland, and House Speaker Tina Kotek of Portland. Read More

Maine: LePage to propose adding lieutenant governor, dropping secretary of state | Bangor Daily News

Gov. Paul LePage wants to get rid of the secretary of state position and replace it with a lieutenant governor. The duties of the secretary of state, from running elections to licensing drivers, would come under the lieutenant governor, who also would be first in the line of succession to replace the governor. The governor’s office confirmed it is drafting legislation that would not only make that change to the state’s constitution but would change how two other constitutional officers are appointed. LePage wants the governor, not the Legislature, to name the attorney general and state treasurer. LePage has had numerous disagreements with the Attorney General Janet Mills, a Democrat who was elected by the Legislature. She is serving her third term, having been elected when Democrats held legislative majorities in 2008, 2012 and 2014. Read More

California: Padilla has long to-do list as California’s election boss | The Sacramento Bee

When he is sworn in Monday as California secretary of state, Alex Padilla, a former two-term state senator and possible candidate for higher office, will assume one of the most-maligned posts in state government. The secretary of state’s campaign-finance disclosure system is old and confusing, businesses complain about filing delays and a federally required computerized voter registration list is years behind schedule, contributing to a national survey recently ranking California second-to-last in election administration. Padilla, a Democrat from Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, said fixing all three will be early priorities after he takes office. “Coming in, I know there’s a lot that I want to help get accomplished and pushed forward. That’s the approach, the urgency I will bring,” said Padilla, who recently completed two terms in the state Senate and is regularly mentioned as a possible future contender for governor or U.S. Senate. Read More

Georgia: Voter Registration Drive in Georgia Leads to Lawsuit | Wall Street Journal

With a little over three weeks to go before elections in close races for U.S. Senate and governor, an escalating fight between Georgia’s Republican secretary of state and a Democratic-leaning voter registration group is moving to court. Third Sector Development Inc., the parent nonprofit of the New Georgia Project that has been working to register minority voters, has filed suit in Fulton County Superior Court against Secretary of State Brian Kemp and five county election boards, claiming officials have failed to process tens of thousands of voter applications ahead of the Nov. 4 vote. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People joined the suit, which calls on the court to force the secretary of state and the boards to speed up processing the applications. Read More

Ohio: Husted directs elections boards to be ready for voting in two weeks | The Columbus Dispatch

Secretary of State Jon Husted wants a court to throw out his own directive. Under an order to county elections boards Husted issued on Friday, Ohioans could start voting a week earlier than he’d planned and cast a ballot during the two weekends before Election Day. But at the same time, the Republican is pushing for a higher court to overturn the lower-court ruling that added the days of early voting and eliminate them. Battling in court over when Ohioans can vote has become almost a biennial ritual, seemingly taking place every time the state has a gubernatorial or presidential election. This year, the dispute involves whether voters can start casting ballots on Sept. 30 or Oct. 7, and whether additional hours will be allowed on weekends and evenings. Read More

Kansas: State Supreme Court hears Chad Taylor lawsuit Tuesday | The Wichita Eagle

Democrat Chad Taylor’s lawsuit against Secretary of State Kris Kobach will be heard by the Kansas Supreme Court on Tuesday in an unprecedented case that could help decide the balance of power in the U.S. Senate. Never before has a major party candidate sued to be removed from an election in Kansas. Taylor, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, wants his name off the November ballot and has called in one of the Democratic Party’s top attorneys for help. Kobach ruled that Taylor failed to properly withdraw because he did not include a declaration that he is incapable to serve in a letter that he submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office on Sept. 3, the deadline to withdraw. Read More

Kansas: Kobach at center of Kansas Senate drama | Associated Press

Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s position as chief Kansas elections officer is allowing him to play a marquee role in the political drama surrounding Democrat Chad Taylor’s attempt to get off the ballot in the U.S. Senate race. Taylor ended his campaign last week, nudged out of the race against three-term Republican Sen. Pat Roberts by Democrats who viewed independent candidate Greg Orman as the stronger rival and wanted to consolidate most of the anti-Roberts vote behind Orman. The stakes are high: The GOP hopes to recapture control of the Senate, and those efforts would be hindered by a Roberts loss. Kobach, a conservative Republican and a member of Roberts’ honorary campaign committee, has faced a torrent of negative reviews for refusing to remove Taylor’s name from the ballot and for concluding the Democrat didn’t comply with a state law limiting when candidates can withdraw. The decision has Kobach’s political opponents adding new chapters to their existing narratives about how, in their view, he’s mishandled his official duties. But those official duties made Kobach — or any secretary of state — an administrative gatekeeper for Taylor or any other nominee seeking to get off the ballot. He couldn’t avoid coming on stage. Read More

National: The Democrats’ Katherine Harris Strategy | The Daily Beast

With control of the Senate up for grabs and a Republican House looking to expand its majority in November, it would seem strange for DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to spend even a minute thinking about usually sleepy down-ballot races like the open seat for Iowa’s Secretary of State. But at the Democratic National Committee summer meeting last month, Wasserman Schultz not only talked about that Iowa contest—she also promised to campaign for the Democrat in the race, Brad Anderson, and four other Democratic secretary of state candidates in swing states across the country this fall. Why use so much fire power on such low-profile offices? “We’re committed to ensuring that those who administer elections do so fairly,” Wasserman Schultz said, singling out five races in Ohio, New Mexico, Colorado, and Nevada, in addition to Iowa, as the ones she’s most focused on. “The fights over voter ID and early voting are just the latest reminder of how important the rules for elections are in shaping the electorate and determining the eventual outcomes.” Read More