On Thursday, a new voting-rights campaign called iVote launched, and it plans to target its resources at secretary of state races in Colorado, Nevada, Iowa and Ohio. Last week, a conservative super PAC named SOS for SoS kicked off its fundraising campaign in secretary of state races in nine states — including Colorado, Iowa and Ohio. In December 2012, two longtime Democratic strategists started the SoS (Secretary of State) for Democracy super PAC, which plans to be involved in six races — including Ohio and Iowa. Why has a series of elections known to send the most aerobic of election-year browser refreshers into a deep sleep suddenly taken on the contours of a close Senate contest? Blame a string of events that started with the 2000 presidential election and reached their climax with the current battle over voting rights. The Constitution states, “the Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof,” and in 38 states, secretaries of state are tasked with carrying out the will of the legislature and orchestrating the complex system that decides who gets to run the country.
Most secretaries of state are elected or appointed by the governor, which means the party affiliation of a state’s chief election officer often sways with the party affiliation of the state’s elected leaders. Although state legislatures are responsible for the voter-ID laws that proved the backbone of the voting-rights battle, secretaries of state have many duties that give them outsize influence over a voter’s experience at the polls.
As Steve Rosenthal, one of the founders of SoS for Democracy, notes, “Their powers often include controlling the certification of names of candidates on the ballot and ballot proposals/initiatives, maintaining the lists of registered voters in their state, overseeing voter registration procedures, conducting recounts, overseeing the testing and implementation of voting machines, as well as certifying and registering campaign expenditure reports by both candidates and outside groups. ”
Full Article: The exciting war to make secretaries of state more boring.