Edmonds wants to restore trust in office

Candidate shares ideas for keeping elections safe from hackers

State Rep. Rick Edmonds said he is running for Louisiana secretary of state because he wants to protect the safety of elections and restore the public’s trust in the office.

Edmonds, a Republican from Baton Rouge, is one of nine candidates for the Nov. 6 election. He told theAmerican Press editorial board that the big challenge is getting voters interested in the race because some may not understand the responsibilities of the office.

Edmonds said he is “highly interested” in keeping elections safe from hackers. If elected, he said he wants to create a “cyber division” within the office dedicated to the issue. Edmonds said the office would have to be reorganized in order to gather enough money for the division.

“(Hacking) is definitely a crucial issue,” Edmonds said. “This is just a new day.”

The secretary of state’s office has come under fire recently amid claims that they mishandled the bid process to replace old voting machines. Interim Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin filed a response earlier this month defending his office for awarding the winning bid to Dominion Voting Systems. A protest filed by Election Systems and Software is being reviewed.

Edmonds applauded the Office of State Procurement for removing Ardoin from the evaluation process. He said the whole effort should be to rebid to re-establish trust within the secretary of state’s office.

“It’s just another black eye,” Edmonds said of the controversy.

While Edmonds acknowledged some voting machines are outdated, he said many clerks are “very satisfied” with them.

Edmonds said he doesn’t support online voting because the software to protect election information from hackers isn’t available yet.

While he supports voter participation, Edmonds said he is against letting residents register to vote on election day because of the varied training given to the parttime precinct commissioners hired by the clerks of court.

“Some parishes may train them one hour; some parishes train them four hours,” he said. “You could have someone trained an hour, and they have to vet somebody of trying to figure out should they put them on the rolls and let them vote. I just think it’s an overwhelming pressure.”

Edmonds said the office should use more modern avenues, like social media and sending texts, to encourage young people to register to vote.

Edmonds said he would want the secretary of state’s office to be “the face of new business.” He said he wants to start a center for business advancement, with help from local elected officials and higher education leaders.

“You could help these people learn how to brand themselves, or learn social media,” Edmonds said.

Tom Schedler — who served as secretary of state since 2010 — announced his resignation in late April amid allegations of sexual harassment from a department employee. Ardoin, a Republican, as first assistant assumed the position in May, and is running in the upcoming election.

The field of candidates also includes Republicans Heather Cloud, A.G. Crowe, Thomas Kennedy III and Julie Stokes. Gwen Collins-Greenup and Renee Fontenot Free are running as Democrats, and Matthew Moreau is running as a no party candidate.

””Rick Edmonds for Secretary of State