RealClearPolitics Look at Trustworthy Elections: The Role of Secretaries of State

The RealClearPolitics Trustworthy Elections Project held three webinars to cover election issues that matter, but that the media has not substantively covered. For over two years, many in the media have talked about mail-in voting, but the discussion has just amounted to scare tactics and empty rhetoric. Few people understand how much power Secretaries of State have in elections, and that Secretaries of State can influence who is in the White House. The media has covered redistricting a lot over the last year, but now that all of the maps are in, the media will likely forget about intricacies of the redistricting process for a decade.

The secretaries of state webinar took place on Tuesday, May 31st at 11 am EST. Todd Carney moderated this panel. Discussants were:

John Bursch: Bursch is the former Solicitor General of Michigan. Bursch has argued in front of the US Supreme Court 12 times, and before various State Supreme Courts 30 times. Bursch has participated in several major Supreme Court cases. As Solicitor General of Michigan, Bursch took part in many high stake cases concerning election law that often concerned Michigan’s Secretary of State.

David Dulio. Dulio is a tenured Professor at Oakland University. Dulio also leads Oakland University’s Center for Civic Engagement. Dulio is also the Chair of the Political Science Department at Oakland University. Dulio has a PhD in Political Science. Dulio has been a tenured Professor for close to 20 years. Dulio has written about 10 books on elections and has one forthcoming on state elections. Dulio has also written over 100 articles on elections.

E. Mark Braden. Braden is an election attorney with close to 50 years of experience. Braden has served as the Chief of Ohio elections, counsel to Ohio’s Secretary of State, and Chief Counsel for the Republican National Committee. Braden has also taught at George Washington University and Catholic University. Braden has served as the lead counsel for redistricting cases in ten states and in recount cases for another ten states. Braden regularly represents Republican candidates running for a variety of different offices on election compliance matters.

The panel agreed that the American public generally does not recognize the importance of Secretaries of State in election matters. Braden pointed out that by and large if a Secretary of State loses re-election, it is because there were issues with other aspects of the Secretary of State’s role, such as long wait times for renewing drivers licenses. The panel agreed that beyond Secretaries of State, county clerks and similar local offices are equally important when it comes to administering elections. (Many elections are decided by a county or two, so whoever is running elections for that pivotal county could potentially decide the election.) The panel also agreed that despite the lack of current awareness of Secretaries of State and elections, the politics surrounding Secretaries of State, County Clerks, and other relevant state and local offices will likely be nationalized to a certain degree in response to higher awareness of their often critical roles in administering elections.

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