By Zachary Roth
The fierce partisan battle over voting rights has both sides planning to pour massive amounts of money and resources into a handful of key 2014 campaigns for secretary of state.
The new-found attention for these once-obscure races is driven by an awareness on both sides that a state’s top election official can play a critical role in expanding or restricting the right to vote—meaning control of secretary of state offices in swing states could be crucial in the 2016 presidential contest.
On Thursday, a group of high-level Democratic strategists launched iVote, a political action committee that will back Democratic secretary of state candidates in four pivotal 2016 states: Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, and Nevada. All four Democratic candidates are strong advocates of expanding access to the ballot, and all are likely to face Republicans who are looking to make it harder to vote. The initiative is part of a broader move by Democrats and voting-rights advocates to push back against the wave of restrictive voting laws advanced by Republicans in recent years.
Secretaries of state are charged with administering most aspects of their state’s elections, giving them responsibility for everything from maintaining voter rolls to sending out absentee ballots to counting votes.