Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale announced Monday that he will not seek re-election in 2018, ending a career that focused on expanding voter participation and upgrading election equipment. Gale has served as the state’s top elections official since 2000, when he was appointed by then-Gov. Mike Johanns. His decision sets the stage for a potentially competitive race to replace him. “Being Secretary of State has been one of the most fulfilling, exciting and memorable experiences of my career,” Gale said in a statement. “I feel very lucky to have been able to offer my public service as a constitutional officer to Nebraska and its citizens.”
Gale, a Republican, spent much of his tenure working to expand ballot access through early voting and voting by mail, although he has supported controversial bills to require that voters show a government-issued ID at polling sites. In 2015, his office launched an online voter registration system.
He also took steps to upgrade online services for businesses, banks and other financial institutions that have to register with his office. Gale replaced Scott Moore as secretary of state in 2000 and was first elected to the office in 2002.
The 76-year-old practiced law in North Platte for 29 years before taking his current job. He also worked as a legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Roman Hruska in Washington and an assistant U.S. attorney in Nebraska.