Protecting the Vote: A Discussion with Democratic Secretaries of State

Protecting the Vote: A Discussion with Democratic Secretaries of State

Session Type(s): Featured Panel

Starts: Saturday, Aug. 4 11:30 AM (Eastern)

Ends: Saturday, Aug. 4 12:45 PM (Eastern)

Join us for a discussion of key election issues leading into the 2018 midterms with the Democratic election officials on the front lines of protecting the vote, including gerrymandering, voter suppression and Russian hacking. Democratic Secretaries of State take the lead in fighting back against voter ID laws and partisan gerrymanders that favor Republicans, expanding the electorate and the franchise through voter registration and flexible voting reforms, and protecting elections from foreign cyberinterference. This is an opportunity to ask questions and hear them talk about their role in ensuring the 2018 election, and all future elections, remains free and fair.


Adam Bonin

Adam Bonin

Adam extensively represents clients in campaign finance, election law, pay-to-play, and lobbying compliance matters and has been a leader in efforts on behalf of the rights of online speakers His practice today focuses on the representation of a variety of elected officials and candidates for office, as well as corporate, labor, and other politically active entities on federal, state and municipal campaign finance, election law and regulatory compliance matters, including pay-to-play law and the regulation of lobbying activities.

Adam is the former Chairman of the Board of Directors of Netroots Nation. He lives in Philadelphia.

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Jim Condos


Jim Condos, of Montpelier, was first elected as Vermont’s 38th Secretary of State in 2010. Jim has over 30 years of public service. Since taking office in 2011 Jim has transformed the office from a paper driven system to a 21st Century digital environment. He has been a longtime champion for openness, accountability, and transparency in government, and has worked to ensure that Vermont leads the nation by expanding voting rights to eligible voters.

Jim actively represents Vermont on inter-state and national levels serving on the Executive Board for the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) since 2013. He currently serves as the President-elect for NASS, and will take office as President starting in 2018. He previously served as the NASS Executive Board Treasurer. With NASS, Jim currently serves on the Cybersecurity Task Force. He has served as Co-Chair of the State Heritage Committee, on the Business Identity Theft Task Force, and on the following committees: Elections, Presidential Primary, Voter Participation, and Business Services.

Denise Merrill

Denise Merrill

Denise W. Merrill is currently serving her second term as Connecticut’s 73rd Secretary of the State. As Connecticut’s chief elections official and business registrar, Merrill has focused on modernizing Connecticut’s elections and business services, and improving access to public records.

Secretary Merrill has supported and expanded democratic participation, ensuring that every citizen’s rights and privileges are protected and that every vote is counted accurately. She has worked to expand voter participation through Election Da, online, and automatic voter registration (through the DMV). She has also improved Connecticut’s democratic accountability and integrity with a series of rapid response processes to Election Day problems. She served as president of the National Association of Secretaries of State for the 2016-17 term and serves on the Board of Advisors to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

Secretary Merrill is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, is licensed to practice law in the state of California, and is a classically trained pianist. She lives in Hartford. Her family includes husband Dr. Stephen Leach and his two sons, her three grown children, and five grandchildren.

Other sessions: Fighting Back Against Russian Active Measures

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Alex Padilla


Alex Padilla was sworn in as California Secretary of State on January 5, 2015 becoming the first-ever Latino elected to the position. He is committed to modernizing the office, increasing voter registration and participation, and strengthening voting rights. A national leader on protecting voter privacy, Secretary Padilla was the first secretary of state to refuse the White House’s unprecedented request to obtain the personal data of every voter through its troubled Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Believing the Commission’s efforts were a pretext to enacting voter suppression measures, the Secretary challenged the Commission’s agenda and appointees, many of whom had well-documented histories of supporting restrict voting policies that make it harder for eligible Americans to vote. Several secretaries of state agreed and advocates sued. The commission was disbanded in 2018.

In 2016, Secretary Padilla oversaw the state’s historic General Election. Working with statewide partners, the Secretary helped add upwards of one million registered voters to the rolls. More than 19.4 million Californians were registered and more than 14.6 million cast ballots on Election Day – both state records.

To expand voting rights to more Californians, in 2015, the Secretary sponsored legislation to establish vote centers, expand early voting and implement same-day conditional voter registration through the Voter’s Choice Act. He also sponsored the New Motor Voter Act which will eventually register to vote every eligible California citizen who goes to a DMV office to get a driver’s license or renew one, potentially registering millions.