Most GOP secretary of state candidates oppose same-day voter registration, voting

2012-05-02T16:55:00Z 2014-03-12T15:57:07Z Most GOP secretary of state candidates oppose same-day voter registration, votingBy CHARLES S. JOHNSON Gazette State Bureau The Billings Gazette

HELENA — Three of the four Republicans running for secretary of state want to repeal the law that allows people to register to vote on Election Day and cast their votes then.

Most also are opposed to a proposal by the Democratic incumbent, Linda McCulloch, to switch to make most of Montana's elections voting by mail. The 2011 Legislature rejected the idea.

They are seeking the Republican nomination in the June 5 primary election to run against McCulloch, who has no primary opposition, in the November election.

The secretary of state is Montana's chief election official, oversees corporate filings and is one of five members of the state Land Board. The job pays $86,018 annually.

The Republican candidates are:

-- Scott Aspenlieder, 30, a senior manager and shareholder at WWC Engineering in Helena.

Born and raised in Culbertson, Aspenlieder received bachelor's degree in bio-resources engineering from Montana State University in 2005. He has not run for office previously.

-- Former Secretary of State Brad Johnson, 61, a consultant from East Helena. Born in Illinois, Johnson has a master's degree in animal science from the University of Illinois in 1976. After moving to Montana in 1980, Johnson lost races for the U.S. House and Senate and the Public Service Commission. He was elected as Montana's secretary of state in 2004, only to be unseated by McCulloch four years later.

-- Patty Lovaas, 60, a certified public accountant from Missoula. A Minnesota native, Lovaas moved to Montana and received an accounting degree from the University of Montana in 1985. She has lost races for the Montana House and Senate and the U.S. Senate.

-- Drew Turiano, 38, a real estate investor from Helena. Born and raised in New York, Turiano received a master's degree in political science from Fordham University in 2004. He initially ran for governor but later dropped out to run for secretary of state.

Aspenlieder had the fundraising lead through the last campaign finance reporting period, with $40,358 in primary cash on hand on April 5, followed by Turiano with $9,055; Johnson with $495; and Lovaas with $62.

The Gazette State Bureau asked the candidates about their position on the 2005 law that allows people to register to vote on Election Day and cast their votes the same day.

Aspenlieder said he opposes the law and noted that Johnson had supported it as secretary of state in 2005. "The current late voter registration places (an) unnecessary burden on county election officials and subjects voters to different levels of scrutiny to establish where and how they should count their ballot or whether they have voted in elections in another state," he said.

Johnson now opposes Election Day voter registration, saying "it places an unnecessary burden on county election officials and on the vast majority of voters who have met their responsibility to register in a timely fashion. It also increases the potential for error and fraud."

Turiano also wants the law repealed, saying: "I feel this way because this is a tactic that's been used in other states by Democrats in a way to help the Democrats over Republicans. I believe the same thing is happening now in Montana."

Lovaas, however, said she would support the law under certain conditions. "I believe no valid voter should be disenfranchised," she said. "However, there must be a valid required ID presented."

As about McCulloch's proposal to switch most Montana elections to vote by mail, Aspenlieder said he is opposed, adding: "Voters should be able to cast their ballots using whatever method best suits their lifestyle. Depriving people of the right to go to the polls, check the box and earn their ‘I voted' sticker is unnecessary and wrong."

Johnson agreed, saying: "It is a government-mandated denial of Montanans' right to choose how they vote. It created a higher probably of errors in the election process and increases the likelihood of fraudulent activity in the system."

Turiano also concurred. "I take this position because there is a higher propensity for fraud in elections with a total vote-by-mail system."

"When and until there are adequate safeguards and procedures to protect the integrity of the vote-by-mail method of voting, I would not support it," Lovaas said. "The electorate must have confidence in the process, and public trust in the administration of the procedures. (I think) the current voter database is fatally flawed based on my extensive knowledge on the subject ..."

Candidates were asked what is the main issue they are emphasizing in their campaign.

"All too often, the secretary of state's position on the Land Board is overlooked when it comes to impact it can have in creating jobs," Aspenlieder said. "Development of Montana's natural resources — oil, coal, timber, minerals and agriculture — on state lands needs to be championed by all five elected officials on the board."

Johnson cited his "experience, leadership and a record of accomplishment necessary to hit the ground running," adding: "No other candidate has a record of actually fighting to repeal Election Day voter registration and implementing a paper ballot system. I have effectively advanced efforts to responsibly develop our natural resources as a member of the state Land Board ..."

Turiano said he has vowed that he will refuse to certify the potential re-election of U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., in 2014 because of the term limits in the Montana Constitution. Baucus was first elected to the Senate in 1978.

In 1992, voters in Montana and some other states passed constitutional amendments to limit the number of terms U.S. senators and representatives, as well as state officeholders and legislators, could serve. However, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1995 ruled that states cannot impose term limits on federal representatives. Despite the decision, the congressional term limits wording still remains in the Montana Constitution.

"I am beholden to the Montana Constitution and to state's rights over the opinions of unelected federal judges that may demand I certify Max Baucus," Turiano said.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(24) Comments

  1. Demiurge
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    Demiurge - May 03, 2012 10:12 pm
    Jus Wundrin is a classic example of why I DON'T vote for conservatives.
  2. DrGonzo
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    DrGonzo - May 03, 2012 1:44 pm
    -"and have a desire for censorship."

    Ironic how these 'conservatives' are 'all about freedom,' except for when it's some poor guy who has the audacity to practice his own freedoms and vote.

  3. DrGonzo
    Report Abuse
    DrGonzo - May 03, 2012 1:36 pm
    Congressman Charlie Wilson once drove a bunch of blacks to the voting booths when he was like 13 and told them that one of the candidates killed his dog.

  4. Jus Wundrin
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    Jus Wundrin - May 03, 2012 11:53 am
    Hi skep,

    I dont have time to do your research, but look around the internet. There are stories from big progressive areas with a lot of union influence. Papa Bear's post is a good example.

    Sad that you have to resort to name calling, and have a desire for censorship. That is something to expect under a "progressive" leadership.

    jus, FORWARD!, wundrin
  5. fountain of smart
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    fountain of smart - May 03, 2012 11:38 am
    Encouraging voting is American public policy. For example, the federal “motor-voter” law allows registration when renewing a driver’s license.

    While we know much about participation, we have few statistics on illegal voting, almost certainly because voter fraud is rare in all states. For example, an Ohio study of two elections there in which a total of more than nine million votes were cast, found four cases of voter fraud. Polling data shows that a relatively few people are seriously worried about fraud.

    Isolated cases of voting by ineligible voters have been found, but they amount to a tiny fraction of one percent of votes cast. A few illegal voters, some for innocent reasons, are not evidence of an attempt by a political organization to influence the outcome of an election.

  6. WileE2
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    WileE2 - May 03, 2012 11:36 am
    Do you want an informed electorate or do you want people who are either too stupid or too lazy to figure out how to register ahead of time? Really, it has to be one or the other because it isn't difficult. I'm glad I'm not in the group that depends on the stupid and the lazy to get elected.

  7. fountain of smart
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    fountain of smart - May 03, 2012 11:34 am
    since 1973. It also banned absentee voting during the two business days before an election. [4]The first measure was the target of a citizen referendum ("people's veto) which was held in November 2011.

    Maine voters reinstated Election Day registration with 59% in favor
  8. fountain of smart
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    fountain of smart - May 03, 2012 11:33 am
    Voter turnout is much higher in states using Election Day registration than in states that did not. In the 2004 presidential election, voter turnout in same-day voter registration states was 12 percent higher than states that did not;[2] in the 2006 midterm elections, states with same-day voter registration had turnout rates 10-12 percent higher than in other states.[3]

    Maine In June 2011, the Maine legislature passed a law that ended Election Day voter registration, which had been in place sin
  9. Skeptic
    Report Abuse
    Skeptic - May 03, 2012 10:04 am
    Hi "Jus,"

    Tell us where and when a "union rep," drives a bus around, and picks up folks that wouldn't vote anyway, feeds them a sandwich, hot coffee, and instructs these alleged dupes on how to vote?

    If you're getting your info from Faux News or through the fillings in your teeth, try to provide a more reliable source.

    What kind of welfare benefits do you receive?
  10. twoteneleven
    Report Abuse
    twoteneleven - May 03, 2012 9:54 am
    Your achievements are by your standards or the left's standards? Let me guess, you got a government funded college degree in social work. You then worked for a non-profit entity funded by grants from the government. You have never started a business from scratch and never signed the front of a paycheck. You drive a prius and refuse to move to the right and let faster traffic by because you are driving the posted speed limit and will make others comply. Yup, a real go getter!
  11. twoteneleven
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    twoteneleven - May 03, 2012 9:48 am
    Hear! Hear!
  12. Papa Bear
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    Papa Bear - May 03, 2012 9:00 am
    Same day registration and voting is a blank check for fraud. No investigation was ever done for the Trillion Dollar Tester win last go around, but lots of ballots from same day registration/voting. Same story with the VanDyk seat. Remember the good old days of democrat votes from the graveyards of Butte? Boodle over the transoms in Helena? Democrats all. Vote early and vote often is the mantra of the left.
  13. Jus Wundrin
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    Jus Wundrin - May 03, 2012 8:54 am
    Same day voter registration is a useful tool for the progressives, where a rep., usually union in other states, can drive a bus around and pick folks up that wouldnt vote anyway, feed them a sandwich, hot coffee, and instruct them how to vote.

    If people are really interested in the voting process, they will register early, and vote every time.This law should be opposed, and photo ID's should be required.

    Dont I have to show an ID to get on an airplane, or receive welfare benefits?

    jus wundrin
  14. glennie1
    Report Abuse
    glennie1 - May 03, 2012 8:13 am
    in a true and free democracy voters are encouraged and enabled to vote--by generous voting hours, same day registration, voting by mail, easy access for students and seniors and so on--the amount of tampering with this process in the name of avoiding virtually non existent "election fraud" is truly troubling --these candidates should think twice about the message they are sending....freedom or repression?
  15. Demiurge
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    Demiurge - May 03, 2012 8:06 am
    Then you are the only one in the country.
  16. fishon
    Report Abuse
    fishon - May 03, 2012 7:20 am
    cowboy - I have achieved much more success than you will ever come close to. No handouts here, but I believe we have a responsibility to care for the vulnerable. Last time I checked we where all Americans not having to chose sides. Nice try though.
  17. Conservative Cowboy
    Report Abuse
    Conservative Cowboy - May 03, 2012 6:19 am
    Actually, not a single dime.
  18. Jamey
    Report Abuse
    Jamey - May 03, 2012 5:24 am
    Election fraud is near non-existent. Republicans dislike election registration procedures that make it easier to vote because they are more often used by groups that tend to vote democrat. Turiano admits he is against same day registration because it is used by democrats. The reality of election fraud is that it is not real and all the hurdles republicans put on voting is simply to limit the voting of those groups who tend to vote democrat. The fraud is the republican limitation on voting.
  19. Demiurge
    Report Abuse
    Demiurge - May 02, 2012 11:01 pm
    Do you have anything to say besides nonsense about welfare, Cowboy? As a ranch owner you are likely taking more welfare than most in Montana.
  20. Conservative Cowboy
    Report Abuse
    Conservative Cowboy - May 02, 2012 9:45 pm
    fishon...........you must be another wishing for someone to give you all you think you deserve? Corruption.....? Really? Moderate = fence rider. Pick a side.
  21. Conservative Cowboy
    Report Abuse
    Conservative Cowboy - May 02, 2012 9:09 pm
    Demiurge, really? Must be living on Obama well fare. So, to the point of the article. Group of candidates that have the interest of Montana (all of us) in mind. Now, who is the one that has not been in the political field? Aspenlieder! Time to give this professional a fair shot. I've heard him a couple times over the last four months and I'm impressed. I being a large ranch owner in MT; Scott has Agriculture interest in mind, along with business that will help sustain this great state.
  22. fishon
    Report Abuse
    fishon - May 02, 2012 8:58 pm
    new definition of conservative = corruption. Moderates have very few choices anymore.
  23. fishon
    Report Abuse
    fishon - May 02, 2012 8:54 pm
    teahadists. Don't need them.
  24. Demiurge
    Report Abuse
    Demiurge - May 02, 2012 7:41 pm
    More tea-losers. Can't have citizens actually voting, they might not vote Republicant.

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