Secretary of State Job Becomes Political Target

USA Today has a story today about how Democrats are targeting several secretary of state races across the country because of the importance of this position in setting certain rules for elections. The story starts

The political battle for control of the federal government has opened up a new front: the obscure but vital state offices that determine who votes and how those votes are counted.

The state post of secretary of State was a backwater until 2000, when Florida’s Katherine Harris became a central figure in the presidential recount controversy. Now national Democratic groups and White House prospects, unhappy about Harris’ decisions and those of Republican Kenneth Blackwell in Ohio two years ago, are pouring resources into contests for the job.

At least three Democratic political action committees are spotlighting secretary of State candidates, most of them in states where they expect the presidential vote to be close. Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada and Ohio top their lists. Secretaries of State control most voting regulations and influence state purchases of voting machines. Looking ahead to 2008, Democrats say they want people they trust in those offices.

“There’s a growing concern about whether votes are cast and, if so, whether they’re properly counted. We have to restore people’s confidence in the system,” says Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, a 2008 presidential prospect whose Heartland PAC is helping several secretary of State candidates.

This article raises many questions about how elections are governed (something Mike and I have written about previously) and whether elections should be governed by elected secretaries of states or by election boards.