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Who We Elect: Secretary of State

52 minutes

We continue our #WhoWeElect series examining the position of Secretary of State. The Secretary of State is an elected office in 35 states and an appointed position in 12 others. Alaska, Hawaii and Utah do not have the statewide position at all.

To really understand the role of the elected position you really need to get state specific. In some places it's purely an administrative role but in a lot of the states the Secretary of State is also the chief elections administrator. Secretary Alex Padilla of California and Secretary Denise Merrill of Connecticut share the responsibilities of their respective state roles and Shelby County Tennessee Election Commissioner Bennie Smith joins the conversation to discuss the gaps in our election security.

Our Guests:

Secretary Denise W. Merrill
Elected to her third term as Connecticut's 73rd Secretary of State on November 6, 2018. As Connecticut's chief elections official and business registrar, Merrill has focused on modernizing Connecticut's elections, business services and improving access to public records. Since taking office, she has supported and expanded democratic participation, ensuring that every citizen's rights and privileges are protected and that every vote is counted accurately. Secretary Merrill has worked to expand voter participation through Election Day and online voter registration. She has also improved Connecticut's democratic accountability and integrity with a series of rapid response processes to Election Day problems. As Connecticut's business registrar, Secretary Merrill has made it easier for businesses to interact with the office by increasing online functionality, improving response times and connecting businesses with government resources.

Secretary Alex Padillia
Sworn in as California Secretary of State on January 5, 2015. He is committed to modernizing the office, increasing voter registration and participation, and strengthening voting rights. Padilla previously served in the California State Senate (2006-2014) where he chaired the Committee on Energy, Utilities, and Communications.

Commissioner Bennie Smith
Appointed to the Shelby County Tennessee Election Commission in April 2019. He works in analytics and innovation. Smith’s research is credited for uncovering an extraordinarily high-risk tampering mechanism and provides a new method for analyzing questionable election results. That research was part of a proof of concept he developed with Black Box Voting to examine election system vulnerabilities. It is the foundation for the AUDIT USA Ballot Image Project. He is also known for his predictive analytics and proprietary method to forecast turnout.

 

Reading List

The Computer Voting Revolution Is Already Crappy, Buggy, and Obsolete - Bloomberg Businessweek
Here’s How the Country Could Actually Secure Our Elections If Politicians Actually Cared to Try - AlterNet
Joint GCC SCC Statement on Senate Intelligence Committee's First Russian Interference Report

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