Now more than ever we need to elect Democratic Secretaries of State in order to secure voting rights for all citizens. In 2018, iVote is zeroing in on this key office in swing states and across the nation. Electing those who will fight to ensure Republicans can no longer bar certain people from the ballots is crucial to our democracy.
Meet our candidates and learn more about their races below.
Katie Hobbs is an Arizona state legislator and has been a social worker for over 25 years. She has dedicated her life to listening to her community and helping solve difficult challenges for the people of Arizona. Her work as an advocate, and later as a chief compliance officer for one of the largest domestic abuse shelters in the country, helped provide critical resources to thousands of women suffering from domestic violence. As chief compliance officer, she worked to secure critical funding to support the center's work. Her experiences there helped her realize the root causes of the problems afflicting Arizona: ineffective state government that failed to provide opportunities for Arizonans to find good jobs, make their voices heard, and build a better life for themselves and their families.
Running against: Steve Gaynor (R)
Jena Griswold is a lawyer and small business owner, who has spent her career fighting for justice and fairness. Jena is running for Secretary of State to ensure that every Coloradan can exercise his or her constitutional right to vote, to increase campaign finance transparency, and to make government easier for Coloradans.
Jena grew up in Estes Park, and started working at 12 years old. Growing up working-class, Jena realized that she wanted to help even the playing field for Coloradans. That’s why, after law school, Jena left her law firm to work to protect Coloradans’ voting rights as part of President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign. During that election, she saw firsthand how the Secretary of State’s policies affect the right to vote.
Jena’s family knows how important voting is to our democracy and our country. Her great-grandparents came to the United States, escaping persecution in Eastern Europe. Against all odds, their deaf son—Jena’s grandpa—was able to get an education, start a business, and raise a family. Jena’s grandpa taught her the importance of voting and living in a democracy. Jena is now running for Secretary of State to ensure that every eligible Coloradan is able to vote.
As Secretary of State, Jena will ensure that Colorado has the most secure and accessible elections in the nation. In the last presidential election, the Democratic National Committee and 39 states’ electoral systems were compromised by possible foreign actors. Jena will work relentlessly to enhance our election's cybersecurity to withstand attacks from domestic agents and foreign agents like Russia.
Jena will stand up to President Trump, to protect Coloradans’ right to vote and to defend Coloradans’ right to privacy. Trump established a “Commission on Election Integrity,” claiming millions of illegal votes were cast in the last election. There is absolutely no proof of this. The Commission serves as a pretext to spread the Trump Administration’s falsehoods, and worse, represents an effort to weaken our voting rights. Colorado must resist any attempts by President Trump to disenfranchise voters. As Secretary of State, Jena will stand up against the Trump Administration, and protect Coloradans’ right to vote.
Jena knows that voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, and she is committed to ensuring that every eligible Coloradan can vote. As Secretary of State, Jena will fight to make Colorado a place where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.
Running against: Incumbent, Wayne W. Williams (R)
Deidre DeJear has dedicated her career to community and small business development. In 2008, on the brink of the recession, Deidre found her affinity for working with small business and building relationships in the community. She began her own small business, Caleo Enterprises, which provides entrepreneurs with affordable marketing tools and business strategies. As the sole-founder, Deidre’s work has impacted over 150 small businesses and nonprofit organizations.
In addition, Deidre is no stranger to voter engagement. Her first introduction to campaigns was through her grandmother, who became County Elections Commissioner in Mississippi in the mid-nineties. It was from that early experience that she learned the value in engaging the community through voting.
Since that time, she has volunteered her time with nonprofits and political campaigns to connect with new and existing voters. In 2012, Deidre worked statewide to re-elect President Barack Obama. She developed and implemented a program to educate, motivate, and mobilize low-propensity voters, which resulted in over 5,000 new registrants and more than doubled African American turnout. After 2012, Deidre went on to manage two victorious campaigns for Des Moines School Board.
As Secretary of State, Deidre will ensure our voting process is secure, accessible and fair for ALL Iowans - meaning rural and urban, young and young-at-heart, those with disabilities, people with money and people without. And she will do that with the utmost integrity. Deidre believes that if we are to protect our democracy, ALL Iowans need to have a voice at the ballot box.
Running against: Incumbent, Paul Pate (R)
Jocelyn Benson has more than a decade of experience as a national leader in election law and administration. She is the author of Secretaries of State: Guardians of the Democratic Process, the first major book on the role of the Secretary of State in enforcing election and campaign finance laws, and promoting fair, accessible and secure elections.
Jocelyn has a proven track record of success in leading institutions, cutting costs and improving services. As the former dean of Wayne State University Law School, she froze tuition, expanded access to scholarship funds for all students, and bolstered the school’s reputation and bar passage rates. She also established programs to promote government oversight, provide free legal services for veterans, and help aspiring entrepreneurs participate in the economic revival of Detroit.
Jocelyn is currently CEO and Executive Director of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE), a national nonprofit. She serves on several national boards including the advisory board of iCivics, a non-profit founded by retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and dedicated to engaging students in meaningful civic learning.
Running against: Mary Treder Lang (R)
Nelson Araujo is a proud Nevada native, born in Las Vegas to parents who fled the civil war in El Salvador in the 1980s for a better life in the United States. His mother, who raised Nelson’s family in a single-parent household, worked long shifts as a hotel housekeeper and is a proud Culinary Workers Union Local 226 member to this day. Despite lacking transportation and not being able to speak English, she worked tirelessly to ensure that her children had the basic resources they needed to succeed. Inspired by his mother, Nelson sought to accomplish his dreams of bringing his family out of poverty by succeeding in school. Nelson is the first in his immediate family to graduate high school and college. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in communication studies and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
In 2007, he began working for the office of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Five years later, Araujo joined Financial Guidance Center, where he was responsible for oversight of a statewide homeowner relief program to connect Nevadans to much-needed housing resources. By the time he left the Financial Guidance Center, the program had helped 10,000 homeowners. Currently, along with serving in the Nevada State Assembly, Araujo works as an adjunct professor at Nevada State College. Araujo also volunteers for various organizations dedicated to improving the lives of Nevadans through advocacy and activism.
Elected twice to the Nevada State Assembly, Nelson has risen quickly in the ranks, serving as Assistant Majority Floor Leader in the most recent legislative session. In his first race, Nelson won a six-way Democratic primary before going on to win his Assembly seat in the general election. He is proud of the diverse district he represents and has worked hard to ensure every constituent he represents has a voice. In the 2017 session, all seven of the priority bills Nelson authored were passed by a Democratic legislature with bipartisan support and signed into law by a Republican governor, including legislation expanding protections for children in foster care and safeguarding small businesses from unnecessary and significant tax increases.
Running against: Incumbent, Barbara K. Cegavske (R)
Maggie Toulouse Oliver
Incumbent, Maggie Toulouse Oliver was elected New Mexico Secretary of State in 2016. She previously served as Bernalillo County Clerk from 2007 to 2016.
Since being in sworn in as Secretary of State in December 2016, Toulouse Oliver has been hard at work implementing reforms designed to bring more transparency and efficiency to the office. In February, she posted 2017 Financial Disclosure statements online for all public officials. Soon after she announced the creation of the Native American Voting Taskforce, which is “charged with identifying ways to boost voter registration, education and election participation in tribal communities.” She has since announced a partnership with Family Friendly New Mexico Business Awards to support businesses that adopt and implement family-friendly policies for their employees. This month she released a draft campaign finance rule to help candidates, elected officials and political committees with campaign finance disclosure and reporting requirements.
Toulouse Oliver is a 2009 recipient of a New Mexico Technology Excellence award. In 2011, she received the Distinguished Service Award from United Voters NM and Verified Voting NM for her work in promoting election integrity. In 2012, she was named one of NM Business Weekly’s “40 under 40” young professionals. Toulouse Oliver was named one of “30 Women to Watch” by MSNBC, to Democracy for America’s “Dean’s Dozen” in 2014 and earned Common Cause New Mexico’s “Best in Government 2015” award for her efforts to pass an online voter registration bill. She was recently named the Elections Committee Co-Chair of the National Association of Secretaries of State.
Running against: Gavin Clarkson (R)
Kathleen Clyde grew up in Garrettsville, OH, a small town full of hard-working people. That is where she learned just how special it is to grow up in this country where everyone has the right to vote and everyone has the opportunity to have their voice heard.
Since then Kathleen has been a dedicated defender for protecting voters and voting rights. She wants to take her life’s work to the Ohio Secretary of State’s Office to secure and modernize Ohio elections so every Ohioan’s vote counts.
Kathleen fought to restore the busiest days of early voting and extend early voting days and hours. She introduced legislation for automatic voter registration that will ensure Ohioans are added to the rolls when they do everyday things like getting a driver’s license, seek disability services, or simply turn eighteen.
Because no matter who you are or where you live, Kathleen will put the people of Ohio first.
Before her time in the Statehouse, Kathleen worked in the Ohio Senate and as Deputy Legal Counsel to the Speaker of the Ohio House. She also served as an election official directing the Franklin County Early Vote Center during the 2008 presidential election.
An attorney and avid Buckeye fan, Kathleen earned her law degree from Ohio State, where she was an editor of the law review. While a law student, she worked on voting rights issues with the Election Law center at Ohio State, the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, and the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU.
Running against: Frank LaRose (R)