Republican Indiana Secretary of State candidate Diego Morales was one of four Indiana candidates named in a recent Washington Post article listing politicians who have questioned or denied the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Other Indiana candidates include Jim Banks, a Republican running for representative of Indiana’s third U.S. House district, Jim Baird, a Republican running for representative of Indiana’s fourth U.S. House district, and Greg Pence, a Republican running for representative of Indiana’s sixth U.S. House district. All three are incumbents.
Related: [Meet the Monroe County candidates for Local and executive Indiana state office]
Morales, while not an incumbent, is the only candidate listed by the Post who is officially on Monroe County ballots.
The secretary of state position is significant because of its role in administering elections, said Nicholas Almendares, associate professor at the Maurer School of Law. Federal elections are fundamentally run by the states themselves, so the secretary of state makes decisions about how each state holds elections, including what times polls open and close, where polls are located and how ballots are set up.
While the position is intended to be purely administerial, if a secretary of state wanted to use their power to favor a candidate, Almendares said they would theoretically have the power to do so.
“For example, you can’t say, ‘okay, we’re not going to let Democrats vote’,” Almendares said. “But you can use a proxy: urban versus rural, college town versus not college town. If you pluck a random person from Bloomington versus Martinsville, there’s a higher Democratic population in Bloomington.”
He said this use of power has been challenged legally before. One notable example was a lawsuit surrounding Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial election. When then-Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp won over Stacy Abrams, she accused him of voter suppression and election mismanagement. The lawsuit went to trial earlier this year.
Despite the controversy, the Indiana Secretary of State election is expected to be a tight race. As of Oct. 17, the IndyStar reported Morales’ Democratic opponent, Destiny Wells, raised slightly more campaign fund money than Morales in the third quarter.
As of Oct. 12, the polls are officially open for early in-person and absentee voting. They’ll stay open in Indiana until noon on Nov. 7.
Related: [IU students discuss the importance of early voting after centers opened Oct. 12]