The once-obscure state-level job of overseeing elections has emerged as a prime target for wealthy donors and national organizers from both parties seeking an edge in the 2022 midterms that could shift control of Congress away from Democrats.
Republicans are backing secretary of state contenders who echo Donald Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him through voter fraud, with donors including Richard Uihlen.
Democrats have also seen an exponential increase in the amount of money they’re raising for the role, which is often sought as a stepping stone to higher statewide office.
Secretaries of state, the officials who control voter registration, ballot counting and election equipment in many states, including some key presidential battlegrounds, were thrust into the center of Trump’s campaign to overturn President Joe Biden’s election victory last November. Trump accused some of them of allowing cheating, particularly Georgia’s Brad Raffensperger, who took his dispute with Trump public.
The heavy political focus on what is designed as a bureaucratic job administering elections could undermine the credibility of the electoral system, said Martha Kropf, a professor of political science and public administration at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.