Last year, 24 states elected their top elections official. Swearing ins have begun in earnest, and many new secretaries of state have already outlined their plans for improving elections.
In California, Secretary Alex Padilla is asking for input on how to #BoostTheVote and increase voter participation, noting that “the best ideas often come from citizens who are passionate about making a difference and moving us forward.” The statewide voter registration database VoteCal is expected to roll out in phases beginning this year under Padilla, allowing for the implementation of Election Day Registration (which was approved in 2012). During his campaign, Padilla also discussed using technology to better disseminate election information and hopes to expand civic education curriculum in schools.
In Minnesota, Secretary Steve Simon feels strongly about voter participation and has a number of changes on his mind. These include early voting and automating registration at the DMV. Simon is also interested in shifting to a June primary date. Although the state has a strong culture of civic engagement and typically leads the nation in voter turnout, their August 12, 2014 primary was among the latest in the nation and barely managed 10% turnout. Simon touted this history in his remarks, pointing out that the “Minnesota system has become one of the copied and envied in the nation. But there’s more to do. And we can do new things, bold things, the Minnesota way. We can make it easier for all eligible Minnesotans to vote. We can reduce the gap between those who vote regularly and those who don’t. We can ensure that our elections are open and honest, safe and trustworthy.”
Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is interested in using technology to update the state’s voting system, (ultimately) saving money. This includes expanding the use of electronic poll books–already used in 66 counties–and introducing online voter registration. Online registration is a top priority and is expected to be up and running by 2016. In Arizona, Secretary Michele Reagan used her inauguration speech to draw attention to specific plans, like outreach to young voters.