Former State Board of Education member, Republican Bob Evnen, has announced his candidacy for Secretary of State.
Evnen, a lawyer from Lincoln, said during an announcement ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda that voting security will be a top priority of his if elected.
“Through the work of the Secretary of State’s office, our county election commissioners, our county clerks, and poll workers throughout the state, our Nebraska election processes have held up well, but there are new challenges and we must remain attentive to them,” according to Evnen. “As our state becomes more populated, laws calling for voter identification at the polls are just common sense.”
U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer and former Gov. Kay Orr stood by Evnen’s side while he made his announcement.
Evnen is the first person to announce his candidacy to replace current Secretary of State John Gale, since Gale, a Republican, announced he will not run for re-election in 2018.
Evnen noted the Secretary of State’s office has wide-ranging duties in Nebraska. He said there were three reasons he sought the office: voting security, public safety, and economic security.
“Voter ID is a sound idea. It’s just common sense,” Evnen said during a question and answer session with reporters after the formal announcement. “The other thing is that we ought to explore mechanisms for confirming that those who are registering are citizens. Only citizens are eligible to vote.”
Evnen said while Nebraska hasn’t had much problem with fraudulent voting, the experience elsewhere in the country should serve as a warning. He said Philadelphia has precincts where the number of people registered to vote exceed the number eligible to vote.
“In Philadelphia, there are both Republicans and Democrats who are trying to clean up their voting there and they’re finding it exceedingly difficult to do,” Evnen stated. “If you want to address the problem of voting security, the time to address it is before it becomes a problem, because once it becomes a problem, it’s very hard to deal with.”
Evnen said while he can only speculate as to how wide-spread fraudulent voting might be in the state, two men in Lexington, both Somali refugees, have been charged with voting numerous times during the same election.
Evnen said the Secretary of State has a public safety role as secretary of the Pardons Board and promotes the state economy as the chief protocol officer for international relations for Nebraska.
Evnen may be best known as the co-founder of Nebraskans for the Death Penalty, the group which led a successful ballot initiative to overturn the legislature’s repeal of the death penalty.
AUDIO: Republican Bob Evnen announces his candidacy for Sec. of State. [12:12]