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Three Republicans compete for Secretary of State

2022 Primary Secretary of State Candidates.jpg
Posted at 3:15 AM, May 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-04 16:24:21-04

The current Secretary of State Lawrence Denney is not running for re-election — three republicans will be on the primary ballot, vying for the position.

All three Republican candidates said ensuring election integrity would be a focus if they're elected.

Phil McGrane

Phil McGrane is currently the Ada County Clerk and said he would implement more training and continue to focus on cybersecurity.

"Four years ago, I started the Idaho election's conference to bring everyone together from all 44 counties to learn together, to do professional development and I think we need to continue to build on that," he said.

McGrane points to his record as Secretary of State and the ways Ada County has increased accessibility, while he said, maintaining security, especially with early voting.

"When someone goes to an early voting location, we'll ask them for their ID and we can just scan the barcode right on the back of their drivers license, looking them up and when we do that and we check them in, it communicates it out instantly to all the other early voting locations."

McGrane said the ballots are also printed on the spot during early voting, removing the possibility of ballots being tampered with.

On whether Idaho has a problem with voter fraud, McGrane said, "Our country does have a history of voter fraud and we need to protect against it. Our country also has a history of voter suppression and we need to recognize that. And we need to be able to have honest in-depth conversations about how to balance those roles so that we don't make it so secure that no one can vote and we also don't make it so lax that it's easy to tamper with."

Additionally, in his role as Ada County Clerk he said he knows there is fraud, but it's not a widespread problem.

"We have cases that we've pursued and prosecuted here in Ada County just in the past two years," he said. "It's not rampant, it's not widespread."

The Secretary of State is also a member of the land board. This is a group of government officials who oversee the management of endowment lands—land given to Idaho at statehood and used to raise money for public schools and other beneficiaries.

McGrane says the fact that he's a lawyer will be beneficial in this role.

"Last year the Land Board turned over $100,000,000 to public education here in the state," he said. "We need to make sure we don't just continue that benefit for next year but we can do it as an endowment in the long run."

Dorothy Moon

Dorothy Moon is currently a Representative in the State Legislature.

She also has experience in another state with working to execute elections.

"I was born in Kansas City, and raised in the Ozarks, I did work elections in my 20s." she said. "I know how to tabulate, I know how to add up ballots and I know how to make sure everybody gets a level playing field."

She says in talking with groups across the state, that election integrity is one of the biggest concerns she hears.

"I think as long as we tighten up some of these--the smaller issues then we won't have a big issue in Idaho and everyone won't have doubt that our elections are fair," Moon said.

Moon introduced legislation during this year's session aiming to fix things she says are these smaller issues.

The first draft of her bill would have done away with same-day voter registration.

After many expressed concern about this part of the bill, a new draft was introduced, excluding it.

The version of the bill that ultimately passed the house would make changes to the voter ID laws, removing a student ID as a valid ID, adding a proof of citizenship requirement, and removing affidavit ballots.

Under current law, if a voter doesn't have their ID with them when they go to vote, they can sign an affidavit before casting their vote.

The bill did not get a hearing in the Senate.

Critics of these bills said the changes would make it more difficult for many Idahoans to vote.

Moon disagrees, “it's just common sense that you would have an id when you go and vote, it would be common sense that you prove that you live where you live, it would be common sense that you have to be a us, Idaho citizen to vote in an election."

Moon is also interested in expanding voter education, something she's worked on in the past with students.

On whether voter fraud is a problem in Idaho, she said, "I don't think it's a big issue but if we don't address the small issues, they can become big issues over time."

On her membership on the Land Board if elected, Moon said her experience in rural Idaho will help her with the position.

"I've got the mining award, I've got multiple ag awards. I feel like I have represented rural Idaho in multiple-use very well and I understand the regulations that come with a lot of—from federal and from state that impact these folks," she said.

Mary Souza

Mary Souza is a current State Senator and said she has been focused on elections for years.

"In 2009 I became very focused on elections and election integrity and during the 8 years I've been in the Senate, I've sponsored 15 bills having to do with election integrity and transparency."

If elected, she would focus on ballot security by requiring a consistent voter ID system across types of voting.

"Making sure that everyone that is a registered voter has a type of photo ID that proves their citizenship, proves their residence and proves their ID," she said.

Souza introduced a bill during the 2022 session to make these changes. It would have also done away with ballot drop boxes, phased out affidavits and required anyone who votes with a signed affidavit instead of an ID to come back and prove citizenship before their ballot can be counted, before affidavits are phased out.

"It offered a free state id card to anyone who could not afford the $25 to buy the state id card," Souza said.

The bill would also require voters to vote in person for their first election in Idaho. Additionally, the County Clerk's office would have to go to the home of any voters who registers but can't vote in person because of disability. This is to verify the voter's ID and collect their ballot. Some expressed concern about these changes and the estimated $16,000, Souza said it would cost to provide free ID's to those who can't afford them.

The bill did not make it out of committee.

On whether Idaho has a problem with voter fraud, Souza said, "I think we have the potential for a problem."

She makes the comparison of accidentally leaving your garage door open all night and nothing was stolen.

"You've heard stories about someone else in your neighborhood or your town who had problems with damage in those situations," she said. "So the next night do you leave your door open because you didn't have any problem? No, you don't."

On her membership to the land board, if elected, Souza said wildfire management would be a focus.