Election security – and the validity of election results themselves – are at the forefront of Indiana’s race for Secretary of State. Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Brandon Smith sat down with Democrat Destiny Wells, who calls herself the “pro-democracy candidate,” to discuss those and other key issues in the campaign.
IPB News Statehouse Bureau Chief Brandon Smith: What does that mean to you, to be a pro-democracy candidate?
Destiny Wells: It means upholding our political norms, norms that we have had for decades that make us a functioning democracy. It means allowing free and fair access to the polls while still having safe and secure elections.
Smith: For Hoosier voters, is the legitimacy of the 2020 elections an issue in the 2022 election?
Wells: I believe that it is an issue and I hear it out on the trail. I have questions from voters, asking me if they think there is fraud in elections. And I remind them that there have been over 50 court cases that have litigated this issue and found that there was no concerted effort for fraud. And so, as secretary of state, it is our moral obligation to make sure that we are informing and educating Hoosiers and always being fact-based in the information that we put out.
Smith: Is there more we could be doing to shore up election security?
Wells: There are always improvements to be made because security is always evolving; there are always new threats. People are smart, they figure out systems and so it is imperative to always have that as a priority in the office.
Smith: Are there changes needed to Indiana’s early voting process and what should those changes be, if so?
Wells: Well, we have 28 days of early voting right now. Indiana is a bit friendly when it comes to early voting. And my opponent has said, on the record, he wants to limit that to 14 days instead of 28 days – and now he’s flip-flopped positions. And I would say that is just to placate the moderate voter who he knows he needs come Election Day. And so, I want to maintain our early voting, 28 days.
Smith: We do not have no-excuse absentee voting by mail in Indiana. There are some, again, on both sides of the aisle who would like to see that opened up. Do you think that’s a step Indiana should take?
Wells: I think that the states that have no-excuse absentee voting are doing much better than Indiana in their voter turnout because they have made voting more accessible. Now, we have to have that support in the legislature. So, I believe in advocating for the newest, best practices that are still safe and secure.
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Smith: Elections are not the only thing the secretary of state’s office does, obviously. When you’re out on the trail, talking to voters about your race, how much of it is you telling them ‘Hey, by the way, this office also does these other things.’ Do you think people are aware of how that office works?
Wells: I don’t think that they’re aware how the office works until they actually have to use it. So, I hear from a lot of people who have small businesses, some of their concerns. There are ways that we can help Hoosiers. You know, I’ve had conversations with the vendors who supply the technology that Hoosiers use – for example, with INBiz.com, that has not had a new rollout in a very long time. And so, there are ways for the secretary of state to implement new technology, to be innovative and to best serve Hoosiers.
Smith: How should Hoosiers expect you, as a Democrat, to be able to get things you want for Hoosiers from a Republican General Assembly?
Wells: Right, well, people, they ask me, ‘If you’re going to be a Democratic Secretary of State, how will you get business done with Republicans?’ And I tell them we were never supposed to be a one-party system. We are supposed to be a two-party system, to hold each other accountable. And so that relationship is going to be two-fold. One, it’s going to be brokering relationships, bipartisan action. And the other is going to be educating Hoosiers when the system is not best serving them and shining a light on some of these things that a supermajority Republican government has not been necessarily communicating to them before.