The job of overseeing elections has become so important (and politicized?) that secretaries of state are gaining newfound respect — at least, in terms of people being interested in helping decide who fills these important, but (until recently), frequently obscure positions.
As the Wall Street Journal notes, “The battle over voting rights is taking on a new dimension as operatives allied with both political parties are wading into races for secretaries of state.”
On the left, groups like iVote and SOS for Democracy have emerged, and on the right, the Journal notes that
Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a Republican and divisive figure for his oversight of voting laws during the 2004 election in an important swing state, is planning to announce that he will serve as chairman of SOS for SOS. “We are no longer going to let the left decide the size and dimensions of the playing field,” Mr. Blackwell said in an interview.
On a phone call this morning, Blackwell scoffed at the “divisive figure” designation, but reiterated his interest in impacting these elections: “My detractors say I’m divisive; my friends say I’m unrelenting and principled. But the point is, we’re not going to concede secretary of state offices to George Soros and his friends.”
Obviously, this battle is a microcosm of the much larger fight going on in regards to voter integrity versus ballot access. It is unfortunate that these things tend to divide over partisan lines; everyone should be in favor of both things (just as we should universally oppose their opposites: Voter fraud and disenfranchisement).
But this is politics, after all. And in any arms race, unilateral disarmament usually doesn’t work out too well. So both sides are in the game. Everything is political now. And maybe, that means we’re finally just being honest about it?
* Note: Matt Lewis’ wife consulted on the 2006 Blackwell for Governor campaign.