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tv   Secretaries of State Discuss Enforcing Election Laws  CSPAN  October 12, 2021 1:56pm-2:57pm EDT

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big -- with live video coverage of the day's big events, supreme court oral arguments. even our live interactive morning program "washington journal," where we hear your voices every day. c-span now has you covered. download the app for free today. >> next, a group of secretaries of state talk about election and voting laws. >> thanks for joining us for this panel. it's a pretty great one and i am not just saying that because i'm moderating it although i am a little bias that way. i'm communications director at the daily coast and one of the foremost experts in the country on state politics and when it comes to state politics it really doesn't get much more important than secretaries of state and the work they do. but that's never been more true
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than this cycle, what was democracy, small d, under existential threat. -- carolyn: so i am going to let you all introduce themselves because you want to hear from them, not me. thank you for joining us. at the end, i'm going to ask some questions. at the end you will have a chance to post your own questions in the chat and i will very much enjoy posing some of your questions to these amazing secretaries as well. so without further ado, i'd love
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to welcome the secretaries to introduce themselves. let's start with secretary griswold. secretary griswold: thank you so much for being back. maybe next year in person. my name is jenna griswold, colorado's secretary of state. you know, i was first elected in 2018 and actually i first ran for anything in 2017. you know, i have a little bit of different background. i grew up very working class in rural colorado. so you know, when i was growing up, my mom would work two jobs and it was still really hard. we were in and out of food banks, on and off of food stamps. i started working actually the summer after seventh grade. and it was eye-opening because i discovered there were so many families like mine just struggling to get by. that's why i am the first of my family to go to a four-year
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college, then law school. that's why i fight so hard as secretary of state to make sure we're keeping the power of who gets to decide who runs this country in the hands of everyday people. so i was elected in 2018 as the first democrat to serve as colorado secretary of state in 60 years. i'm the youngest secretary of state in the nation, and now the chair of the democratic association of secretaries of state. so, again, thank you so much. i look forward to jumping into this conversation. carolyn: thank you so much, secretary. and i see we have lots of folks introducing themselves in the chat. really love that. really glad that y'all are here. but now i'd love for secretary merril to introduce herself. secretary merril: sometimes we secretaries don't seen each other anymore either. great to see all of you and thank you, carolyn, for the introduction.
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yes, i'm denise, i am in my third term as secretary of state in connecticut and we have sort of the opposite situation in connecticut. we have lots of democrats in all offices, and continue to have. i've been in office before that, before i was secretary of state now for 11 years, i was in the legislature for 17 years. i first started introducing progressive legislation on elections in 1994, back with some -- a friend of mine who was then secretary of state, a guy named miles rappaport, who is now at the kennedy school and writing books about this even now. i ended up as majority leader of my party. only the second woman who had ever risen to any kind of leadership position even in connecticut, and it wasn't easy to get there, but -- so i know how to do that and i think that helped me as i've been secretary of state since that time. . other than that i was the one who revived our democratic association of
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secretaries of state organization after the 2016 election, which horrified all of us. since that time we really have seen that organization grow. i'm so grateful jenna is now leading the charge on that one. that's where we are today. carolyn: thank you so much, secretary. great plug for democratic secretaries of state. democratic association of secretaries of state. very important group. as you said like a little sort of door dormant until recently. we are so glad it's back and building its power. thank you again for joining us. now i would love for secretary bellow to introduce herself. secretary bell low -- we are running into a snafu. here we go. secretary bellow: i'm so excited to be here with all of you and to share this stage, personal stage with some of the democracy champions from 2020.
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i am one of the newest secretaries of state but new to voting rights. i grew up with low-income working glass groups, i grew up with without electricity and running water until fifth grade in maine. due to public education and lots of support along the way i went to work at the national h.l.u. that's where i got my start on voting rights. working on the voting rights act re- authorization between 2003 and 2005. before moving back on home maine to be executive director. in that capacity i have seen what happens when republicans take control of legislatures. in our state we have had same day voter registration since 1973. when republicans took control and the governorship they eliminated it. i led a statewide referendum campaign to win it back at the ballot box. we succeeded. i went on to serve in the state senate where i chair the labor committee and am now maine's
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first female secretary of state. so wonderful to be here with all of you. carolyn: very exciting. again, i love to hear about folks who spent time in the legislature. that's my bias. we all know and i know all good folks joining us here this morning for this panel also know how important state politics are. not just in legislatures but also this crucial role in terms of safeguarding our elections anti-actual practice of our democracy. now we have secretary benson. i would love for you to introduce yourself to our amazing audience. secretary benson. secretary benson: thank you for having me. it's great to be back here again. really appreciate your focus in this really critical moment in the future of our democracy. i think as we emerge out of 2020 where michigan as all of you know was in the fire for various reasons. yet we emerged out of that really demonstrating how important it is that you got
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defenders of democracy in these positions as secretaries of state. and as election administrators. but demonstrating how important it is that good people everywhere stand up and do the right thing. our message today is to call on everyone here to join us in defending democracy. to be a part of our work. and together we can protect and defend the right to vote at that time when it's under siege. thank you for hosting this conversation. carolyn: absolutely. so glad you are here to join us. i'm all smiles because i love netroots. while i'm sad we can't do it in person, i'm happy that it's happening and that you are here with us today. this is actually a really dark moment. i don't know about you all but i'm scared. i'm full of hope, but also we have seen what republicans are capable of. and they keep showing us the levels to which they are willing
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to stoop to steal elections, to delegitimatize elections. i would like to hear from each of our secretaries right now. what do you think are the biggest challenges facing our democracy right now? not only your states but writ large if you feel like expanding on that a little bit. let's start with secretary merril. secretary merril: sure. yes, it has been a very, very difficult time in elections. for some of us more than others. but i think right now after the 2020 election, which actually was amazingly successful in most of our states, ironically, we are left with something i call the 3-d's. distrust, disinformation, and down right lies. that are tremendously impacting the way we function and what we are having to do to try to get that trust back. i think we focused so much on trump in the last few years that
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i think we are missing a bigger picture, which is basically he's not the cause. he's the symptom. he has simply stepped into the hole being dug for many, many years now. it's really a breakdown of common values, of empathy, lots of things going on. we who are trying to run safe and secure elections are under pressures that i never could have imagined when i took this job 11 years ago. i think the most important thing we can do right now is to try to get that trust become by just telling the truth. that's all i can think of to do. those stories that are out there, the crazy theories that people are buying into, even now, are really hard to dispel. i guess -- i think our job -- i feel like we are kind of the firewall in all this. that we are the ones that have the bully pull -- pulpit to some extend. we can at the time truth how
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elections are run. why they are capable of being trusted. but all the checks and balances we all have in our states about audits. whatever else the topic of du jour is. we are the ones that are going to have to do that. i think the fact that there are 50 different ways of doing things to some extent overall is not helping. because that's another bridge people who want to tell stories about things can jump into. they'll say, for example, we are fine in connecticut, how about that michigan, or how about that florida? that makes it really difficult. i personally think we need a federal response, which is, of course, under discussion at the moment to have some basic standards that everyone can understand. like everyone should have early voting. everyone should have some way to vote by mail. and those things can only be established from the federal level. carolyn: great points. really very important points
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there. secretary benson, would you weigh in on this. it just wouldn't be a virtual event if we weren't having some difficulties. that's better. secretary benson: thank you. secretary benson: the truth and acts are on our side. the law son our side. the constitution is on our side. and -- we will hopefully secretary benson's connection will straighten out a little bit and we'll try to hop back to her. secretary benson, you still there? secretary benson: making sure people -- dmoint if you can see me. can i see you. knowing that people can have --
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i think we have to remember thau can hear me. we have to remember that the goal here of those trying to deny democracy is not just get harder to vote, it's not just to even put people in place who will be willing to overturn election results or not certify election results if they don't like them, all those ways we are seeing it escalate. the long-term goal is disengage people in the process. to conpeople to stop participating and thereby stop holding their election officials accountable. this is about a battle of our accountability and politics today. through democracy we can hold our elected officials accountable through protecting access to the vote. through protecting the security of the president, all citizens to ensure elected officials are held accountable. those trying to dismantle
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democracy want us to give up. they want us to disengage. they want us to pay attention to the many other things, climate change, freedom of choice, and protections over safety in schools. all of those things which are at the forefront of so many of our hearts all come back to whether we have access to democracy our work really over the next year is to push back on efforts to dismantle democracy by telling the truth. that it's not just an effort to make it harder to vote, it's an effort to reduce our ability, our block our ability of citizens to hold our elected officials accountable and ensure they represent us and our voices in -- carolyn: thank you for that. really good points. secretary griswold, what are your thoughts? secretary griswold: well, number one, carolyn, i'm so glad a lot
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of us were in 2018 and 2020, we are seeing the worst adults salts on democracy the big lie in 2020 has grown bigger. i think we can conceptualize what is happening and basically a three-pronged stool. number one, lie, lie, lie, lie. extreme election officials are lying. insiders are lying. they do think to promote lies. like fake audits. they are chippingway at confidence to the second point, past voter suppression. make sure it's harder for american people to cast a ballot. we have seen just this year, since january, since the insurrection, 500 bills to suppress the vote. they are passing. they are passing in places like florida, ohio, texas, arizona, montana, iowa. they are passing so that american people know that it's no longer -- atlanta, seven hours to cast a ballot, it's more. they are trying to takeway the freedom to vote.
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and number three, attacks on institution. that's where we are seeing death threats. unprecedented numbers of death threats against my fellow secretaries of state and election workers. trying to intimidate us. we won't be intimidated. but we are seeing election workers really contemplating retiring. about 60% of election workers in large jurisdictions are considering retiring in the next three years because they did not sign up for this. they are there to do a good job. we are also seeing attacks 700 republicans are runs ads at federalle level and state level that election 2020 were stolen. we are seeing a new emergence which we have been dealing with in colorado, an elected county clerk oversees an election became an insider threat and leaked sensitive information. i know that's a lot. but the number one point that
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base basically is the fact that extreme elected officials are trying to gas light the american public to make it easier for them to take elections for themselves. to undermine confidence in all future elections. and what we need to do, every single one of us, is to lean in. we need to make sure that every single official who breaks the law is prosecuted. every single attorney who lies to a court to try to destroy democracy is sanctioned. and every candidate spreading the big lie has to be turned into a big loser in 2022. carolyn: could not agree more strongly. great for you to bring up that clerk in your state who -- the whole thing is terrifying. before i take it to secretary bellows for a take from there. a little rundown.
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i'm not sure our audience knows what the situation s but it's terrifying. this merits a quick aside. secretary griswold: it's terrifying and bizarre. because if you are watching daytime television and this theme came up, you would be like these guys need to be fired. this is crazy. what happened, carolyn, is that a county clerk, who oversees elections, actually administers the election, lied to my office, told us, someone was an employee, they were not. they proceeded to go in where a secure room where voting equipment was, swiped in. we have the swipes. stole copies of all the servers. then when my team was doing a secure upgrade of the voting equipment, they piered over their shoulder, took copies of passwords. then came in again, a couple days later, and took images of the servers again.
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to make things the next level of just strange, that truth is stranger than fiction sometimes, is the guy who is alleged to be the leader of a qanon posted the passwords on the internet. determine what county it is. i alert the county clerk. my civil servants are coming to inspect the voting equipment. she tells us, she's leaving and allegedly got on the pillow guy's private jet,s fly to south dakota where he was having a cyber conference. carolyn this is the third step of just like bizarre. the pillow guy is one of the people leading disinformation and trying to lead this for trump. i think they are going to use this data to show how the election -- they were right about the election and trump was going to go back to the presidency. of course none of this is true. i have had to put a supervisor on top of that election. the former republican county
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clerk, decertify all the voting equipment. we are in litigation right now, court case will be decided by october 14th. asking a judge to formally remove that county official from any type of -- any sort of -- anything related to elections. and my predecessor, the person i ran aagainst -- against in 2018 and former county clerk on top of the election. the district attorney's investigating. the f.b.i. was investigating. i think this is a wake-up call for the nation. because in colorado we have great security. even trumps d.h.s. secretary commentedded us as having one of the best security with elections in the nation. and this problem of insider threats, it is coming. it seems to look like there is coordination to get people who do not believe in elections to serve as secretaries of state, to possibly run for county clerk, to become poll watchers, and apply for jobs in these officials. so the nation needs to get
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ready. every state needs to get ready. it's so uncomfortable. these people, they are republican, democrat, they are our family. we all believe in elections. we believe in administering democracy for the american people. but now we all need to look at our systems and thinking, well, if this person who i think is a trusted partner, what if they are not? how can i segment my system so that if someone is really trying to work on the inside, the election will still go on without fail? that's one of the silver linings that happened in colorado because we have such good security. but it should be a red alarm for the rest of the country. carolyn: for sure. thank you for expanding on that. like you said if this were on tv, the writers would get fired because it's lazy and bonkers. pull it back out and secretary
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bellows, would love to hear your thoughts on our biggest threats facing our democracy at this point in time. secretary bellows: what secretary griswold just said and named is something that was unimaginable two years ago or 10 years ago. that is election saab sabotage. it's a crystal clear example what's happening across the country. we need to organize to make sure we have better leaders in positions of power to fight back against that. secretary benson talked about voter suppression. that's something that when we started our careers with the aclu and southern poverty law center fighting back about systematic structural voter oppression, targeting specifically black and brown voters, rooted in white supremacy, that is something we have to continue to do work on. secretary merril talked about the for the people act. and the freedom to vote act. we must have federal standards all across the country. then finally, just to echo my colleagues. this is rooted in a deliberate
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and organized campaign to discourage people from participating in our democracy. it is an attack on our very democracy itself. when everyone participates, everything that we care about, social justice, climate justice, economic justice, we win. those on the other side are trying to discourage people from participating. that's what this really is about. we have to fight back to protect our democracy. to protect everything. carolyn: these such a good point. you are all from different sits states. as was mentioned before every state has its own set of election laws and practices and the way it executes elections. i would love to hear from each of you a little bit about what is within your power as secretary of state in your state to make elections, voting easier and to make elections -- to maintain them as the trusted
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institutions we know that they are. whoever wants to take that. secretary benson: i can start from michigan. i should mention that about an hour all of us sort of empathize the moment we are all in have a security briefing from the federal government on threat to election security at the national level. i just say that because i know people are like why is she in a car? i have to go to a secure location a space in michigan for the briefing. i'm glad -- in maine, jena only has to go for five minutes. so at 1:00 we'll be in secure facilities in our respective states getting this information. i mention that because it sports the moment we are in. which is we have been on the forefront not just protecting access to the votes, fighting back against attempt to dismaptle democratcy, but also securing the system. and ensuring that the system itself is secure from foreign entities trying to hack into our
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infrastructure. but with regards to what we can do to increase access to the vote in michigan, my background is the election attorney, i started my career at the poverty law center, became an attorney to enforce the voting rights act. all of us here today come from that which i think speaks to what makes us effective secretaries of state. we are not elected officials seeking a platform. we have people who dedicated our careers to protecting access to the vote. when you become secretary of state, it's ultimately being part of a partnership with federal government and voters to work together to extend access to the vote. and ensuring policies themselves are in place, like early voting. or election day registration. or automatic voter registration. to also make sure they are administered in a way that increases access to protect the security in the process. and educating voters about all
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of those options they have to vote. that they know, building a secure and accessible infrastructure is only one piece of it if voters don't know their options, if they don't know how to access their option, then everything we build is -- that's the point i want to make with regards to michigan. i'm proud in our state, our laws, our ability to have the right to vote came from voters themselves not from me. it came from voters amending our state constitution through a ballot initiative to create these freedoms to vote and secure protections. my job is simply to administer them. what i have seen, i have been doing this work for the better part of 20 years, the more voters are driving and determining the election process they want, and a part of creating it, the more engaged they are going to be when it's actually in place. that's what we have seen in michigan. that's why we were able to implement all of the reforms from voting from home to
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election day registration to automatic voter registration within a year of my taking office because it was voters themselves who said we want them, on both sides of the aisle. it's voters themselves who will stand up in the long term and short term to protect those access points to vote. they know how beneficial it is regardless where you live or who you vote for. carolyn: that's a very good point. i'm glad you brought up that ballot measure. i think it leads to a natural point about sort of the atmospheres in which you all work. i mentioned you are from different states with different sets of election laws. in michigan you are dealing with a g.o.p.-controlled legislature which makes a big difference in terms of what you are able to accomplish. the rest of you have democratic majority legislatures. love to see it. you are probably going to come at this from a different perspective. would love to hear from you.
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secretary griswold: absolutely. when i was running for office i said i wanted to do a whole host of things. no one thought i could win. but then we won really big. historic election, but most importantly got to work right away. i was able to lead the largest democracy reform in the nation and work with our legislature to get it passed. in the 2 1/2 years that i have been secretary of state, we have increased drop boxes by 55%. we have increased voting centers, 42 new voting centers which are our countywide voting places. we guaranteed access. every single public university and tribal land partnered with the tribes were able to see a 20% increase in tribal voting. we did automatic voter registration which registered 250,000 people in the middle of a pandemic. did a whole host of other things, including parolee
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re- enfranchisele, ballot trace, making it easier to fix signatures. we have been really leaning in. but in terms of what is the authority of secretaries of state, of course every single one of our states is different, but there is a three threefold authority. a threefold authority. you are the person thinking about democracy and delivering it for the people of your state every single day. that's the leadership. putting together that legislative package and making sure that it gets passed. number two, the admin stiff -- administrative things you can do. for example, part of that increasing of drop boxes really making sure there was enough access during the pandemic was done through executive authority. our work with the tribes, i ended up hiring someone from the tribes into my office to do outreach, to try to reverse the historical disengran chiezment. that was executive authority. the third part is not
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necessarily -- it's part of executive authority, but just trying to make good decisions, getting good people to make good decisions. speaking of the insider threat we had in western colorado. the secretary of state can ignore that. it's up to them. whether it's working with the attorney general, which we did to sue the trump administration two times to stop them from using the post office to disenfranchise american voters. it's all these decision points that you have every single day of your job. do i lean in to protect the vote? do i lean in to -- or sit back and see what happens? democratic secretaries of state are getting things done. we are getting things done i truly believe we helped save democracy in 2020. we are at one of the last lines of protecting the vote against this voter suppression. against the lies, and against what is coming in 2022 and 2024.
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carolyn: great. thank you. secretary bellows, i would love to hear from you on this. i think it's worth pointing out that the nature of your -- how you came to your office is different than everyone else on this call. i think that's worth noting. just for folks' information. maybe i'm just the only nerd who cares about this. secretary bell bellows: maine it's selected by the legislature. rather than vote. when i was first elected to the state senate i replaced a republican, i won a district that voted for trump and served in the minority for the senate. i brought a bill to put into place automatic voter registration. and it fell on deaf ears. it took a democratic majority in the legislature before we could pass automatic voter registration. now as secretary i have the privilege of getting to implement that.
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we do have a democratic-controlled legislature at this point in time. this year as secretary of state i partnered with the legislature and our governor, janet mills, to move forward on -- online voter abstrayings, ongoing absentee voting for seniors and people with disabilities. we need student i.d.'s at maine colleges and universities a form of identification and residency for voter registration purposes. we need permanent absentee ballot drop boxes so that more than 80% of mainors will have access to an absentee ballot box office while states like georgia and florida are taking theirs down. those are things we did from a policy perspective. i am running a referendum election right now in 2021. it has given me an inside view as to the power a secretary of state has that is not continent -- contingent on the legislature or governor. for example, i approved voting -- polling place location changes. that can have huge consequence
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force who participates. overseeing procedures for voting, nursing homes, residential care facilities. again, serious consequences. sews are decision that is secretaries of state make every day. i think it's really important for organizers to recognize that these positions are incredibly crucial to the health of our democracy. carolyn: fantastic. thank you. now i think secretary merril with us the most sort of experience, it's given you a different perspective than the other secretaries on this call. aim interested in what you have to say about threats in that context. secretary merril: yes. especially during the 2020 election with covid, it was -- this is a great example of how different states are. you think of connecticut as a blue state, which is true. we have democratic legislature, democratic governor, democratic secretary of state. however, in some ways we have
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the largest barrier to change of any of the states. so it may surprise people to know, for example, we have no days of early voting, and very restricted access to absentee ballots. that is because we have a particular barrier that is not common. which is it's all in our state constitution. if we want to change any of that, we have to have a constitutional amendment. which is very difficult to get. everyone knows the laws are not a statute. this became a huge problem during covid. even emergency orders are only so good against constitutional provisions. i think it is a great example of how a secretary of state in particular can have the administrative powers during the emergency, especially in my caseworking with the governor who issued executive orders that were helpful. we were able to allow people to get absentee ballots even with
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different restrictions we put in place just during the emergency. we did get the legislature to go along. i was challenged in court all through -- all along the way. because i was able to also, as other secretaries were, able to direct the federal funds that came our way during covid, that was also extraordinarily helpful. for the first time we mailed applications for absentee ballots to every voter in the state. challenged in court, all along the way, but we did it, and if made a huge difference. in connecticut just to give you an example, usually about 4% of people vote by absentee ballot, to show you how rare it is, really. it's not used that often. in the 2020 election, about 35% of people ended up voting by absentee ballot. many, many for the first time. it has done more to increase our turnout than i think anything
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else we have done in the last couple years. we have, of course, instituted many of the reforms that people have talked about. but interestingly this last year, i think we have the most successful legislative session around voting reform than we have had in many years. we instituted the permanent ballot boxes. we had never had ballot boxes in connecticut. many other things -- parolees voting. lots of advances. so it shows, i think, that -- again, secretaries of state can be very powerful change agents, especially if you use all the tools at your discretion. for example in connecticut when we did automatic voter registration, we did it by administrative fiat not through legislation. now we have put it in statute as well. but it just shows i was able to use my administrative powers to work with d.m.v. to put that in place. against a lot of opposition from
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republicans. i think barriers come in all different shapes and sizes. and sometimes we are our own worst enemies in the sense that we have to work within those boundaries, but we can make a lot of difference just by using the tools at our disposal. that's why it's so important not only that secretaries be democrats and be committed to expanding access to the ballot, even in a state like mine, that legislative experience helps. i have to say i have called many times upon my relationships that go back 30 years now. it was easier as first in 2010 when i first came in as secretary of state. i still had a lot of deep relationships in the legislature. you know how much that means. since then it has waned. there has been a big turnover. i don't think it's quite as good as it used to be. it does make a difference. carolyn: really, really excellent points.
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really good segue. just for the folks, to let you know, i'm going to ask each of our secretaries one more question, and then i'll start asking them your questions. start thinking about them. put them in the chat. in the meantime, secretary merril, you mentioned the difficulties in connecticut in terms of the constitution making it more difficult to implement these voting reforms. can you talk about the current work there to overcome, change some of these provisions, what that looks like. there is a legislative session kicking off in just a couple months. it's already october. oh, my gosh. can you give us a preview what you hope will happen in connecticut? secretary merril: we have a big fight against us to pass two constitutional eamentdz. one for early voting. and the other vote by mail
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effectively. and they both require a 3/4 vote of two different legislatures. while we have a pretty substantial majority of democrats, we don't have that many. it would require some republicans to vote for these measures. we already have one on the ballot in 2022. that's the one for early voting. it takes two different legislatures. that's a four-year haul right there. we have mansioned to get it on the ballot -- managed to get it on the ballot for 2022. it will require public education to inform people what this is about. i know the public supports these efforts. i know because of 2020 and the number of people who were thrilled that we have found a way to allow them to vote by absentee ballot. i got literally hundreds of emails from people thanking me for my work. everywhere i go people are grateful that we are expanding their opportunities to vote,
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especially during covid. that has helped enormously in getting these measures on the ballot. i think they will pass. but we need a big push from the public, advocacy groups, to make people understand how important this is. we are real outliars, there are only five states left that do not have any days of early voting, we are one of them. we stand out in a fairly notorious group. and the early voting measure, if we can get another legislature to vote at least 51% of them to vote, we'll be on the ballot in 2024. that is making people in the public very unhappy. but the republicans blocked the vote. we are going to have to have people step up to help us get that on the ballot as well. that won't be until 2024 at the earliest. can you see why i'm excited about some form of federal intervention, whether it's the john lewis bill, voting rights
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act. we desperately need that so we can overcome these barriers in a much more realistic way that the public wants. carolyn: that's great. thank you for that. secretary benson, michigan, as i mentioned before, is a little unique in this context in that the g.o.p.-controlled legislature, and many of our -- our audience probably knows about that right wing ma lish qula plot, threats of violence against folks in statewide office, democrat statewide office, so i would love to hear about the lay of your electoral land, i know you opponent's endorsed by trump. politics in michigan arguably has sort of a dangerous veneer. it's more than just a shine. it's real. it's scary. can you tell us what your re- elect is looking like there? and how you're dealing with it.
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secretary benson: i'm not sure what is going on there. that's ominous. carolyn: as long as we can hear you. we are assuming you are still with us. secretary benson: can i see all of you. i can see all of you. people are aware that the threats that have occurred in wisconsin throughout the past year. and -- in michigan throughout the past year. that's been challenging because that illustrative of another tactic of those who are trying to deny democracy and dismantle democracy right now which is try to intimidate those on both sides of the aisle who are working to protect the vote. to intimidate us out of doing our jobs. whether it's by showing up outside my home as armed individual did in december of 2020 to try to call me to come
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out and face them, as they said. or showing up at our statehouse or other places. i think the bottom line is, what was very clear to me in the midst of everything we went through in the 78 days between the closing of the polls in november and the inauguration in 2021, is that it's important to recognize that these threats aren't targeting us as individuals. they are targeting our democracy and targeting the voters' voices. i'll stand up every day to defend the voice of the voters and the results of our elections which were clear in michigan and every other state in this country. secretary merril started out early on in this program, we have to remember that the 2020 election was the most successful, high turnout, secure election in our lifetime both in michigan and states around the country. that's the truth we have to keep telling. that's really what the violence
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and threats are trying to intimidate us out of telling and replicating in the future. i can't emphasize enough. we talked about the weeds in this conversation. anti-details of what we are seeing -- and the details of what we are seeing in our states. it's important to remember, there is a national effort right now to dismantle democracy and disengage people through lettenning election at mrltors and discouraging people from believing -- administrators and he discouraging people from believing in their votes and the people who defend them. in that way we all can do something about telling that truth and telling that reality. just say i'm someone who -- we have dealt with a lot of very serious threats that go beyond the online piece, that are more in some ways focused on threats to family, threats to -- threats
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of violence in the neighborhoods in which we live. again, with all of those pieces i think it's important that we focus not only the threats against us as individuals as much as it's important to focus on the fact that we all have a job to defend and protect democracy and the threats against that are the most serious in this moment and ones we can work together to defend against. carolyn: that's great. thank you. please stay safe. the thought of armed people showing up outside someone's home. that's just not something anyone should have to deal with, ever. it's unreal. that's the world we are living in right now, unfortunately. speaking of the world we are living in right now. secretary bellows, you happen to be sort of the newest kid on the block. since you became secretary in the aftermath of the 2020
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elections. so love to hear about what you were doing, seeing what you saw, knowing what we now know torques prepare for 2022. secretary bellows: secretary of state to protect our democracy because i saw what was happening around the country in 2020 and i was deeply alarmed. i was sworn into office on january 4, excited to be named first female secretary of state behind me is a portrait of the first female member of congress, jeanette rankin. that was important to me. then january 6 happened. january 6 is a day that we can never forget. and we need to recognize that it is a blueprint for what could potentially be happening in 2024. we need to prepare for the worst. and to hear jocelyn talking so bravely about the threats to herself and her family, but to say what is most important is the threat to democracy. that is such a brave thing to say and such an important thing to say.
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i did a listening tour around the state i started to hear from my local election official that is few of them, too, had encountered threats. physical threats to their safety. and this is and shouldn't be -- this is not partisan. election administration, our democracy, has always been a nonpartisan or bipartisan endeavor. those who threaten that democratcy, those who would do violence on our democracy, they are trying to attack our very structures. the freedoms that we as organizers have worked over two centuries to build. and so it was a sobering thing to come in thinking i was going to be working on policy and having a policy agenda, which we did, to expand voter participation in our state. even though we are number three in 2020, we like beat colorado -- be colorado and minnesota some day. to realize we had to work on the
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safety of our election officials. that we had to think about election subversion and what that means and how we fight back against that. carolyn: that is so sobering. all very important points. i would like to introduce neb by la, very pro-democracy. moms will show up. i have a question now for secretary griswold, we are talking a lot about election administration in our states, but also the democratic association of secretaries of state exists to help elect democrats to these offices, to safeguard our democracy. so secretary griswold, as the chair i know you are thinking a lot about the elections next year and how to defend your sitting secretaries and pick up more seats. tell us about the math for next year and things to be aware of.
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secretary griswold: before getting into the math, i just want to say something that may be very obvious. we are all women on this call. and the vast majority of our members are women. i think that's really important. you can see women being elected to do really hard work, and that's defending democracy when we see these threats, it's not only to individuals, note only to our democracy, it's one more barrier that future women who may be considering running for office are looking at. we need to get on top of that. we need to stop the threat, but we also need to continue to, of course, have great women from diverse backgrounds in these seats fighting for democracy. april the time for winning these seats has never been more crucial. we have laid out an all-out
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assault the very ideal -- we are seeing extreme politicians lie through their teeth to the american people so that they can try to take future elections so that if january 6 happens again, there won't be as much confidence. there won't be as many people in civil servant positions and key elected positions to stand up for our democracy. we are seeing the slow erosion of democracy and it depends on every single one of us to act now. and the chair of the democratic association of secretaries of state we are all in to do everything we can to get good people to administer and oversee statewide election. our top tier states that we are -- our tier one right now include arizona, nevada, michigan, georgia, and my state of colorado. all swing states. in every single one of those states we are seeing an extreme
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republican run who is either at the insurrection or spreading the big lie. we cannot have key election officers in these states not believe in democracy and the will of the people. the good thing is is that we are working really hard, we have great candidates. of course great incumbents, but great candidates emerging where we have open seats. we have a pathway to every one of these seats. although it seems that the weight of the world, the weight of democracy is on our shoulders and we have to push through, i'm very hopeful we are going to win these seats. please follow us on twitter, come to events, tell your friends, tell your neighbors to check out the democratic association of secretaries of state because we are the people defending democracy so that every eligible american, republican, democrat, and independent alike, has access to safe and secure elections. and has the ability to choose who their elected officials will
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be. carolyn: that's such an important point. thank you very much for that. and thank you for the work that you are doing not just be democratic secretarieses of state but elect more democratic secretaries of state. as you know we need them. s -- the also election showed us that in the worst way, unfortunately. it's super crucial. we have an audience question. thank you for, john, you posed this one. how can we encourage republicans to bring these local and county election officials to defend the integrity of elections? do you have any thoughts on that? i know that your local control is very important when it comes to elections. local authorities. local community figures leading these efforts. i know interfering is not high on anyone's list of things they want to do. how do we do this? how do we work with them?
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use them to safeguard our -- secretary benson: gosh. zoom. i'll jump in with initial ideas. there are -- i think it's really important to understand the attack on democracy is largely not come interesting our neighbors. secretary griswold: it's being fueled by political insiders. frankly extreme republicans. who know better and do not care. who are lying, lying, lying. the risk of that as you spread this disinformation. in colorado as i said i'm the first democratic secretary of state elected in 60 years. the majority of our county clerks are republican. and the people for the most part who served in my position, we may disagree on some policies, but they will stand up for
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colorado's elections. i can see that in my predecessor and the fact he is helping out with our insider threat. you can see that in the fact that the colorado association ation, run by a former republican county clerk, majority of members are republicans, stood with me when i took in against that insider threat. we need to recognize that there are so many republicans who do not like what is happening and encourage them to partner. whether that was in 2020. doing event with michael steel, writing op-eds when republican secretaries of state in upstate. and continuing that partnership in a meaningful way. at the same time we have to disincentivize that behavior. at the end of the day there is a incentive for elected officials at this point to embrace the big lie. donald trump has now endorsed three republican secretaries of state because he must be still so mad that the georgia
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secretary of state refused to find the votes for him. they are making this a litmus test. if you lie, spread falsehoods, people can raise a lot of money, they can become darlings of the extreme right. so we have to flip that incentive to do bad things. to destroy for your own ego or for power. then there is a couple way of doing that. if an elections official does something that is illegal or criminal, we who oversee that process need to be bold. whether it's a democratic -- any secretary of state, leaning in civilly. moving forward to make sure that they have a situation under control. but also we need to make sure people who are destroying democracy are held accountable. for those attorneys who have represented liars who have really fought to use the legal system to destroy us from within, they need to be debarred
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and sanctioned. so some of the legislation we are looking at for next year is to how to disincentivize potential bad actors. again, for these extreme politicians who care more about their ego, their power, their money than our nation or their voters, they need to feel it where it will hurt. that's with the grassroots leaning in and at the ballot box. we are not going to win every single race against someone who is lying about 2020, but we have to win big. democracy is on the ballot in 2022. every person who oversees an election needs to be looked at. and needs to be asked, do you believe 2020 was free and fair just like attorney general william barr said it was? just like the f.b.i., "the new dodge intermission report," d.h.s., many republican u.s. attorneys thought it was? you need to listen to their answers and make sure we are electing great people to protect democracy.
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county races and statewide races all the way up to d.c. carolyn: thank you. i will be brief. >> when i was at the hclu, no permanent men mes, no permanent friends, just permanent principles. we had a devastating loss in 2009. so following that i helped start republicans for the freedom to marry. bellows: we recognize we could only win if we built a bipartisan coalition. that's what it's all about. organize, organize, organize. we have to organize the broadest pol coalition to fight for our democracy, to protect our democracy. and all of you listening today. thank you. carolyn: that is such an important point. as we are -- already the end of the hour. time flew. what a wonderful panel. incredible elected officials
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doing incredible things. but also because everyone else who is here watching this panel because you are the change makers. are -- you are the ones who can take what was discussed on this panel and apply that locally and make your own elections more secure. stay fair. and keep those partisan actors from rolling in and trying to throw elections to people who don't actually win them. do democrats one minute wynn all time? sure. we also believe in free and fair elections. we know we don't always win. we are big bois and girls and we'll deal with that. i urge you to get involved locally. find out who runs elections in your hometown. see if you can volunteer. help. there is so much to do. just be being involved is important but also if you are able to not -- i strongly urge you to jump in and join the fray and help out. these amazing women have a lot of work to do.
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we all could very much use your help. thank you, secretaries, so much for being with us today. and taking the time evens you are on your way to your undisclosed he -- locations. thank you. have a great day. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2021] >> the house is back in session today and will work on a senate passed bill to increase the debt ceiling to give the federal -- keep the federal governmentle is vent through december 3. it comes into session 3 p.m. eastern. follow live house coverage on c-span, online at or with the new c-span now a-- app. >> download c-span's new mobile app and state up to date with live video coverage of today's political events live streams from the house and senate floor. the white house events and supreme court oral arguments. even our live interactive morning program, "washington journal," where we hear your voices every day. c-span now has you covered. download the app for free today.
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>> tonight at 8 p.m. eastern, watch today's u.s. supreme court oral argument on the connecticut abortion law on c-span2. and tomorrow the supreme court hears oral argument in united states versus sar nigh yefs. a case concerning the justice department's attempt to reinstate the boston marathon's bomber's death sentence. online at or new video app. c-span now. ary 6. we are joined by chris market. appreciate you getting up early for us this morning. plenty of movement by the committee to investigate january 6, the select committee in the house. take us through the latest when it comes to all the subpoenas that have been issued and the responses the committee is getting as it moves through its


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