Secretaries of State

Why they
matter

In 39 states, the secretary of state (including two lieutenant governors who act as secretary of state) oversees the state’s elections. One way to do this is by making them fair for everyone, while another is to use the power of the office to screw over minorities (a pattern?). In 2004, African-American counties in Ohio received broken voting machines, as did African-American counties in Michigan in 2016. These counties also received too few voting machines, creating long lines. On college campuses, some schools were given only one working voting machine. Republican secretaries of state have been creating obstacles for minorities and young people for decades because they often vote for Democrats. This year in Georgia, current Secretary of State Brian Kemp is running for governor, but he hasn’t stepped down from his position, so he’s actively overseeing his own election. Between 2012-2016 he also removed 1.5 million voters in Georgia from the rolls, and he recently tried to close 7 of 9 polling places in Randolph County, which has a mainly African-American population. Cool!

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