Nearly a decade after the 2000 Presidential elections invited a firestorm of questions about the sanctity of our democratic process, there continues to be a heightened interest in the role of state-wide elections officials, typically the state's Secretary of State – this book looks into their pivotal role in the promotion of a healthy democracy.
Much past interest has resulted in overly critical coverage of election errors, ignoring the tireless efforts that ensure the American citizens benefit from a democratic, inclusive and accountable election process. Through a series of case studies, anecdotes, and interviews with current and recent secretaries, State Secretaries of State author Jocelyn Benson readdresses this balance by providing the first in-depth study of the Secretary's role in registering voters, enforcing voting laws and regulations, overseeing elections, and certifying results. As such, it represents a much-needed contribution to the study of US elections, both in practice and in law.
Contents: Foreword; Preface; The pre-eminent role of the Secretary of State in election administration; Profile: New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner; The Secretary and the political party; Profile: Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel; The Secretary and Congressional oversight; Profile: Kansas Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh; The Secretary as voter advocate; Profile: Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie; The Secretary as voter educator; Profile: Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson; The Secretary as election reformer; Profile: Iowa Secretary of State Michael Mauro; The Secretary and voter accessibility; Profile: California Secretary of State Debra Bowen; The Secretary as voter protector; Profile: Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner; The Secretary as enforcer; Profile: Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita; The Secretary as certifier; Profile: Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed; Conclusion: Secretaries, and voters, as guardians of democracy; Index.
About the Author: Jocelyn F. Benson is Assistant Professor of Law at Wayne State University Law School. She is also the founder of the Michigan Center for Election Law and Administration, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization designed to support the fair administration of elections. She is a member of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Election Law, and has previously served as a National Field Director of Election Protection for the Democratic National Committee.
Reviews: 'Benson's book is devoted to the understudied and often underappreciated role that the Secretary of State plays in our election system. Benson had unprecedented access to Secretaries of State across the country, and I can think of no book that canvasses this topic so thoroughly. With its lively and engaging prose, the book is sure to become a seminal work on the subject.'
Heather K. Gerken, Yale Law School, USA
'This praiseworthy effort is the most comprehensive study ever published comparing and contrasting the diverse opinions and attitudes of state secretaries, and the way they view their role in administering elections. Benson’s research and personal interviews result in a narrative verve that is informative, provocative, and a valuable resource.'
Bill Gardner, Secretary of State, New Hampshire, USA
'Benson persuasively argues that, beyond recent controversial headlines, secretaries of state typically are honourable, creative, and innovative. The data, collected in 2008, include meetings with 30 of 37 officeholders who oversee elections within their state…Recommended.'
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