Care about your vote? Watch the secretary of state race
The Kansas City Star
Think that secretary of state’s race in Missouri is just another boring contest to install a bureaucrat in an elected office?
If so, you need to read this piece in the Atlantic, which details the checkered career of the man who may determine the outcome of the national election in Ohio. And as Ohio goes, chances are so goes the nation.
As the writer, Andrew Cohen, relates, Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State, John Husted, has tried to limit early voting, especially in Democratic-leaning urban areas. Husted has also been pushing the notion that people who vote in the wrong precinct should have their votes disqualified, even if it’s the poll worker who has made the mistake.
Husted has been fighting with the courts for the past year on these two fronts. Cohen writes:
Given his public pronouncements and litigation over the past year, what confidence should minority voters in Ohio have that their votes will be counted under Husted’s direction? Think of all the time and energy he has spent in the state trying to make it harder for people to have their votes counted. Now think of what Ohio’s election might look like if the state’s chief elections officer had devoted that time and energy to ensure broad voting rights.
The takeaway: Secretaries of state play a big role in decisions over who votes, and whose votes get counted. I’d like to think the nation would lean toward expanding the franchise as much as possible. Unfortunately, we’re moving in the opposite direction, with Republicans raising the specter of nearly non-existent voter identity fraud to require government-issued ID’s, which can be hard for low-income and elderly people to obtain.
In Missouri, a secretary of state’s race between Democrat Jason Kander and Republican Shane Schoeller is in full throttle. Schoeller wants to make the contest all about requiring voter ID. That platform has a lot of appeal in Missouri. But there are reasons why Schoeller is the wrong person for the secretary of state’s job.
He also has accepted nearly $500,000 from St. Louis multimillionaire Rex Sinquefield, who is fond of bankrolling initiative petitions, which must be vetted by the secretary of state.
Also, Schoeller apparently violated a state statute when his wife operated a lucrative fee office while Schoeller served as a state representative. Matt Blunt awarded the contract on a no-bid basis, and Missouri law forbids forbids members of the General Assembly or their spouses from performing any service for the state ‘for any consideration” of more than $1,500 a year, unless the contract is gained through a public competitive bidding process.
In other words, Schoeller is inclined to suppress votes, and he has shown he’s willing to press the limits of the rules.
Kander investigated corruption in Afghanistan and has pushed relentlessly for ethics reform in Missouri. I’d have a lot more confidence in his ability to ensure fair and honest elections.