Secretary of State ballot to list five contenders

July 20, 2018 - 5:57 pm

Interim Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin has tossed his name in the hat at the last second alongside the last two major candidates for the Secretary of State’s special election in November. This follows the position being vacated by Tom Schedler after sexual harassment allegations led to his resignation.

Representatives Rick Edmonds and Julie Stokes are now in the special election race. Stokes, a Kenner Republican, says her top priority for the job would be election security.

“Make sure that we have the most robust cybersecurity program that we could. The way that you go about that is just by understanding and testing all the benchmarks. Making sure that we’ve studied and implemented the best practices in the state.”

Secretary of State is responsible for state elections, along with new business registration.

Edmonds, a Baton Rouge Republican, also led with election security as the biggest issue take on if he were to be elected. He says one way he’d address potential vulnerabilities in the election system would be by purchasing the best, most secure voting machines money can buy.

“We are looking at a 50-60 million dollar project, a sizeable project. We’ll make certain that we select the best machines that will give us the best protection.”

Democrat Renee Fontenot Free and former Republican state legislator A.G. Crowe joined the race earlier this week.

The office became available after former Secretary of State Tom Schedler resigned in the wake of sexual harassment and stalking allegations involving his former secretary. The high profile resignation lead to calls for an overhaul of state sexual harassment policies. Stokes says if elected, she won’t let that kind of behavior happen on her watch.

“There will be a no tolerant policy for harassment, discrimination of any type. From top to bottom I would clean house of anyone who has shown any disrespect to fellow personnel.”

While primarily considered an elections office, the Secretary of State’s office is responsible for helping new businesses get their paperwork to get started. Edmonds says if elected, he’d work with the department to do more to facilitate business growth in the state.

“I believe that the secretary of state’s office not only can do the paperwork that they are doing and a good job doing so, but I believe that we can begin to build more bridges with businessmen, with mayors.”

Today is the last day to qualify for November elections.

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