Stokes wants to protect voter rolls

State Rep. Julie Stokes said she is running for Louisiana secretary of state because she wants to protect the voting process, make it easier for entrepreneurs to access needed resources and bring a renewed interest in museums.

A Republican from Kenner, Stokes is one of nine candidates running in the Nov. 6 election. She told the American Press editorial board Thursday that her experience as a certified public accountant makes her the most qualified to make sure elections run smoothly. She said her first task would be a process audit to understand how everything works.

“What you want is that no one person could commit any kind of fraud from the inside on their own; they would actually have to collaborate with others,” she said.

The next secretary of state should address possible issues with cyber security, especially protecting the voter rolls, Stokes said.

“If somebody got in there and hacked the rolls and deleted some of them, election day could be utter chaos,” she said. “The rolls are also people’s private information.”

Stokes said updating voting machines should be carefully monitored.

The office also needs to verify the identities of voters before they are placed into the rolls. Stokes said same-day registration “doesn’t appear to be a good idea” because there isn’t enough time to run those checks. She said online voting may happen down the road, but implementing it now could make the state vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Stokes said she doesn’t support cleaning or “purging” the voter rolls if people haven’t voted in years.

“If you want to vote every eight years for president, you can,” she said.

Stokes said apathy among voters exists mainly because they have “lost hope.” She said candidates who are authentic and transparent may help change those attitudes.

“Everything’s about emotions, and I’m hoping there’s some room left for facts,” Stokes said.

If elected, Stokes said she wants to help entrepreneurs have access to all the resources to successfully start up a small business. She said businesses that want to set up an LLC can be reminded to tell the IRS how they want to be taxed.

“I just want to see things better,” Stokes said. “Always ask them, ‘What can we do to help you?’ “

Putting state museums in a new entity is something Stokes said she would like to accomplish. She said the lieutenant governor could be chair, while the secretary of state could be the vice chair. The panel could also include residents who are experienced in running museums.

“This is a real opportunity to bring us back into our state and enjoying it,” Stokes said. “I just refuse to see it go down.”

The field of candidates also includes interim Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin, Mayor Heather Cloud of Turkey Creek, former state Sen. A.G. Crowe, Thomas Kennedy III and state Rep. Rick Edmonds, all Republicans. Gwen Collins-Greenup and Renee Fontenot-Free are running as Democrats, and Matthew Moreau is running as a no party candidate.

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.””Julie Stokes for Secretary of State

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