Incumbent Tom Schedler faces competition from Louisiana State University law professor Chris Tyson in the race for Secretary of State.
In Louisiana, the Secretary of State’s office is the largest state agency and is responsible for elections and voter registration, business services and filings; the office also oversees state museums and archives.
“Right now, most people don’t know who the secretary of state is or what (he) does and that is the fault of the office,” Tyson says. Still, he believes that the office, if run correctly, can help make Louisiana a better place to live and work.
“It’s not a paper-pushing, bureaucratic position I want to hold. It’s not a salary. It’s not a résumé builder,” he says. “It’s a way to guide the state. As our secretary of state, I will fight to create more jobs, protect our state’s culture and ensure safe and fair elections.”
Tyson is especially concerned about the voting rights law suits against the department.
“Instead of correcting (problems), (Secretary Schedler) has chosen to litigate at a cost of $1.3 million and counting,” Tyson says. “The cases are unnecessary (partisan fights) that cannot be won.”
Tyson says he will work to improve access to elections by reducing barriers to participation through enhancements such as same-day registration, longer early voting periods and increased access to early voting. He also wants to move Louisiana to an opt-out mode of voter registration as opposed to an opt-in system. For example, when residents go to renew driver’s licenses, they would be automatically registered to vote without being asked if they want to. Instead, they would have to indicate that they don’t wish to register.
“I will work zealously to advance the right of every eligible person to exercise their right to vote. Period,” Tyson says, adding that he will also work arduously to make the office more responsive to the needs of businesses, especially small and rural businesses.
“These are the people on the frontline of building and expanding Louisiana’s economy,” he says. “They can’t afford to hire advisors, lawyers and consultants to help them navigate the process of filing business documents or starting their business. We have to be responsive to their needs, with a focus on customer service and efficiency.”
“I am running for re-election on a solid record of innovation and efficiency in the areas of elections, business development and museums/archives,” he says. “As the incumbent, I have grown to understand the critical nature of the job. My experience in banking, healthcare and real estate has allowed me to dig below the surface to look to solutions to some of Louisiana’s most challenging issues.”
Before becoming secretary of state in 2010, Schedler served in the Slidell City Council and as a state senator.
Schedler says if re-elected he will make ramping up the state’s election process a top priority, including exploring new voting technology as well as the possible funding of voting centers that would allow registered voters to cast their ballot anywhere across the state to make the process more convenient.
He also says he plans to continue strides he believes his office has made related to business services.
“As our state’s business ambassador, I’ve made doing business in Louisiana easier than ever before with the launch of our one-stop, on-line business portal geauxBIZ.com,” Schedler says. “I plan to continue to streamline our business filings process through geauxBiz.com so that business owners can do more transactions on-line instead of having to travel to Baton Rouge or place documents in the mail.”