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Secretary of state more than an overseer of elections

Secretary of state more than an overseer of elections

Wayne Hoffman
May 6, 2014

If competent management of elections were all that voters were supposed to focus on in the race for secretary of state, why have the job be an elective position at all? In other words, if the secretary of state is just a caretaker position, no different than, say, the Statehouse janitor, why not just appoint a competent bureaucrat to the job?

Truth is, there's more to the secretary of state's office than the media lets on.

For starters, the secretary of state's office is a member of the Land Board, which oversees state-owned public lands and its associated endowment fund. A candidate for any office on the Land Board should be asked whether the recent policies favoring state ownership of commercial ventures should be tolerated.

Furthermore, a secretary of state candidate should be asked whether he'll advocate for government ethics and transparency. Will the secretary of state push to reform state law that says a legislator can remain in office even after receiving a majority vote for recall? Will the secretary of state push for reform of state law that says unelected Idahoans can serve in the Legislature and without having verification of their election credentials? Will the secretary of state's office push for public sector lobbyists to register and report expenses, the same as private sector lobbyists? Will the secretary of state push to reform the way judges are elected (in the primary and via successor balloting)?

These are all valid policy questions that are directly in the wheelhouse of the secretary of state, and deserve more attention--and firm answers from the candidates—than the media have been willing to give.

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