Session Type(s): Featured Panel
Starts: Thursday, Oct. 7 11:30 AM (Eastern)
Ends: Thursday, Oct. 7 12:30 PM (Eastern)
Secretaries of State on the frontlines of administering the nation’s election laws discuss the threats to voting rights and what we need to do to save our democracy. This panel features Secretaries’ personal stories of the 2020 election emergency pandemic response, the backlash election administrators continue to face in the aftermath, and what’s at stake in 2022. We’ll hear from Secretaries Jena Griswold of Colorado, Denise Merrill of Connecticut, Shenna Bellows of Maine, and Jocelyn Benson of Michigan directly on reforms needed to protect voting rights and how we fight back against voter suppression and election subversion at every level.
Carolyn Fiddler is the political editorial director for Courier Newsroom and is the nation’s foremost expert in state politics. She writes “This Week in Statehouse Action,” a newsletter that provides updates on state politics to thousands of reporters, political operatives and observers. A veteran of Virginia politics with almost two decades of experience in statehouse machinations, she deeply understands the inner workings of state legislative policymaking. She’s spent her professional life working for various Democratic and progressive organizations, most recently with Daily Kos. Fiddler graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Arkansas, and she received her J.D. from the College of William & Mary. She’s from a small town in Virginia you’ve never heard of, and her comic book collection is probably bigger than yours.
Other sessions: Elections Q&A with Daily Kos Elections!
Secretary of State Shenna Bellows is Maine’s 50th Secretary of State, sworn into her first two-year term in the position on Jan. 4, 2021. Secretary Bellows is Maine’s first female Secretary of State. Secretary Bellows previously served two terms in the Maine Senate from 2016-2020, representing 11 towns in southern Kennebec County. In the Maine Senate, she served as Senate Chair of the Labor and Housing Committee and served on the Judiciary Committee. She was a 2020 presidential elector in the Electoral College. Secretary Bellows most recently led the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine as executive director from 2018 to 2020. Previously, she owned Bellows & Company, a non-profit consulting business, where she worked with organizations such as the Sierra Club’s Maine Chapter, Consumers for Affordable Healthcare and the Maine Women’s Lobby. She also served as interim executive director of LearningWorks. In 2014, Secretary Bellows was the Democratic nominee for United States Senate in Maine. Currently, Secretary Bellows is serving on the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) Elections Committee, Business Services Committee, Cybersecurity Committee, Awards Committee and International Relations Committee. Secretary Bellows grew up in Hancock and is a graduate of Ellsworth High School. She holds a B.A. in International Politics and Economics from Middlebury College. She volunteered with the Peace Corps in Panama and AmeriCorps VISTA in Nashville, Tennessee. Secretary Bellows lives with her husband, Brandon, in Manchester, where she serves on the Manchester Conservation Commission.
Jocelyn Benson is the Secretary of State of Michigan. She is also the former Dean of Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, Michigan, a co-founder of the Military Spouses of Michigan and a board member of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality. She is the author of State Secretaries of State: Guardians of the Democratic Process.
Jena Griswold is Colorado’s 39th Secretary of State and the youngest Secretary of State in the country. She grew up working class in rural Colorado and knows how important it is for everyday Americans to have their voices heard in our democracy. In 2019, Griswold spearheaded and passed into law one of the largest democracy reform packages in the nation. This year, she is a leading voice in expanding mail ballots to every eligible American.
Before assuming office, Griswold had practiced international anti-corruption law, business law, election law, and ran a small business. She also served as the Director of the Colorado Governor’s DC Office, where she helped bring back hundreds of millions of relief dollars to help the Colorado communities hit by the 2013 flood. In 2018, Jena was elected as the first democratic Secretary of State in Colorado since 1958, the first democratic woman Secretary of State in Colorado’s history, and only the 10th woman in Colorado’s history to hold current statewide constitutional office.