It’s encouraging to see how much the Secretary of State conflict of interest issue is emerging as a new priority in “the laboratories of democracy,” the US states. In the current legislative sessions, 12 bills have been introduced in eight states to establish separation between election administrators and partisan political activity.
Kansas and New Mexico are considering nonpartisan elections for secretary of state, and proposed legislation in Missouri would change local commissioner elections likewise. Legislatures in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Maine, and Kansas have all considered bills this session requiring election administrators to leave office if they become candidates. Bills in New York and Illinois would restrict campaign roles of election commissioners and state board members.
This issue of course has much in common with gerrymandering reform, which likewise aims to address election decision-making in the hands of individuals with personal and party-related interests at stake. We’ve found that these bills are sponsored by members of both major parties. Several cycles are probably needed for these ideas to become law, but that important process has begun.
Below is a list of bills that have been introduced in the current legislative session thus far. Keep an eye on this page in the future for updates and a comparison on how this cycle compares to those in the past.