AP: Races to oversee elections draw an avalanche of spending

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October 20, 2022

ERN spoke with The Associated Press for this article on the politicization of election officials.

In Arizona, with Hobbs now running for governor, Democrat Adrian Fontes has reported raising more than $2.4 million so far for the election to replace her as secretary of state. Records show his Republican opponent, state Rep. Mark Finchem, has raised more than $1.8 million.

The Arizona tally doesn’t include millions in outside spending, mainly by Democrats. They are warning that Finchem was present at the Jan. 6, 2021, rally outside the U.S. Capitol, has repeated Trump’s lies about the 2020 election being stolen and said he wouldn’t have certified President Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

To some, the escalating interest in these posts highlights risks to the United States’ unique election system, which is overseen by politicians elected in partisan races.

“The increasing polarization has intensified the vulnerability of the system,” said Kevin Johnson of the Election Reformers Network, which advocates for less partisan elections. “You used to be able to rely on a structure that didn’t require high ethics from officials, but managed to produce that anyway.”

Now, Johnson warned, Trump supporters believe there are few explicit restraints on secretaries of state. He said that’s in contrast to most other democratic countries, where nonpartisan institutions such as appointed panels rather than elected politicians oversee voting.

“No other democracy elects its election leaders,” Johnson said.

Nonpartisan administration of elections has become an applause line for underdog candidates in two Democratic-leaning states.

(Read more here.)