New Here: Buchanan Becomes WY SoS, Wolfe WI Election Director

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Two key state election jobs have new occupants this week in the wake of the announcement that Ed Buchanan is the new Secretary of State in Wyoming and Meagan Wolfe is the new election director in Wisconsin. WyomingNews has more from Cheyenne:

Gov. Matt Mead on Thursday selected a former Wyoming secretary of state candidate and Laramie County prosecutor as the next secretary of state.

Ed Buchanan will serve the remainder of Ed Murray’s term as the state’s election and business registration authority after Murray stepped down in early February over allegations of sexual misconduct.

Mead said in a news release that Buchanan’s experience in the Legislature, military career and job as an attorney and prosecutor made him a good choice for the office.

“Ed (Buchanan) is committed to Wyoming and to the responsibilities of the office,” Mead said in a news release.

Buchanan said he will run for re-election this year even as he settles in to the new position, and signaled that he supports voter ID:

Buchanan confirmed that he would be running for secretary of state in this year’s elections, but said that will come secondary to his new position.

“It’s a challenge for really any elected official when they have to run for re-election to their second term,” Buchanan said. “It’s nothing novel or new, it’s just a matter of prioritizing things.”

Buchanan said Thursday that his first priority upon taking office will be to get to know the people in the office and prepare for primary elections in August.

“My first goal … is to make sure that we’re ready for that upcoming election season as a whole and continue the great customer service that office is known for,” Buchanan said…

In a forum Saturday in front of the Wyoming GOP, Buchanan also voiced his support of so-called voter ID laws, which require each person going to the polls to show a government-issued ID.

Such laws have been controversial in other states, with critics saying that such measures are an effort to roll back voting rights for poor people and minorities.

But Buchanan said at the forum that he “(doesn’t) buy the argument that we are keeping people away from the polls by requiring them to show a photo ID.”

“To me, it’s not an inconvenience to show up to the polls, show an ID, get checked off, match your address … so that we can have confidence that the people who are voting are eligible to vote,” he said.

In Wisconsin, Wolfe was appointed state election director after previous director Mike Haas stepped down, as the AP reports:

The Wisconsin Elections Commission picked a new administrator Friday after incumbent Michael Haas stepped aside following a bitter squabble with Senate Republicans.

The commission voted unanimously to promote Assistant Administrator Meagan Wolfe to the lead position on an interim basis pending Senate confirmation. She will take over for Haas, who said this week that he would take a staff attorney position after the Senate in January refused to confirm him and Ethics Commission Administrator Brian Bell.

Consistent with recent events, there was some drama surrounding Wolfe’s appointment:

Republican Commissioner Dean Knudson made a motion Friday to appoint Wolfe on an interim basis and launch a national search for a permanent administrator. The commission needs a leader who can win confirmation, and whoever emerges from a search would have the best chance of pleasing the Senate, he argued.

Democratic Commissioner Ann Jacobs countered that a search would cost time and money and could result in hiring an administrator who’s unfamiliar with Wisconsin voting systems as the 2018 elections loom. She also questioned why the Senate would confirm anybody since that would mean senators couldn’t remove them.

The commission voted down Knudson’s motion 6-1, then voted unanimously to promote Wolfe and submit her name for confirmation.

Fortunately, the initial reaction to Wolfe from the Legislature is positive:

Senate Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald issued a statement Friday saying he was pleased that the commission had moved to restore stability. He said he met with Wolfe last week and was impressed by her knowledge of election issues. He urged GOP senators to meet with her before the Senate ends its two-year session later this month.

Needless to say, both Wolfe and Buchanan will have their hands full getting their respective states ready for this year’s elections – but both of their appointments are an indication that the process is returning to some semblance of normal. Congratulations and best of luck to both of them – and stay tuned …

 

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