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July 20, 2019

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Q+A: Voters’ guide to Nevada secretary of state campaign

Nevada secretary of state candidates 2014

AP Photo/John Locher

State Sen. Barbara Cegavske, left, and Nevada Treasurer Kate Marshall are shown before a debate on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, in Las Vegas. The two are battling for the Nevada secretary of state post.

A pair of politicians pushed out of their previous office by term limits are trading partisan jobs in a race to become Nevada's chief election officer.

Democratic State Treasurer Kate Marshall and Republican State Sen. Barbara Cegavske are deadlocked in their race to replace Ross Miller. (Miller has reached his own term limits after eight years. He is running for attorney general.) Here’s a voter’s guide to the race on the Nov. 4 ballot.

What does the secretary of state do?

The secretary of state’s most important job is overseeing Nevada's elections. That means enforcing election laws, certifying results in state and local races and collecting campaign fundraising and expense reports.

Beyond elections, the department is also responsible for registering and licensing Nevada's businesses and nonprofit groups and oversees the state’s securities industry to protect investors from fraud.

As a member of the state’s executive branch, the secretary of state has the ability to propose new laws. For instance, Miller proposed a major overhaul of campaign finance laws during the 2013 session that failed to pass.

Who’s running?

Cegavske has spent 18 years in the state Legislature, most recently serving 12 years as a state senator representing a district in the western valley. During that time, she’s served on the legislative operations and elections committee five times and was also assistant Senate minority leader in 2011. After three terms each in the Assembly and Senate, Cegavske has reached her term limits under state law and can no longer serve in the Legislature. She previously owned a convenience store for 13 years before selling it in 1996.

Marshall has been the state’s treasurer for the past eight years. In that role she oversaw the state’s investments and debt obligations, while also managing the Millennium Scholarship and state-run college savings programs. Previously, she worked as an antitrust lawyer with the U.S. Justice Department and in-house counsel for a telecommunications company. In 2011, she ran in the special election to replace Republican Dean Heller in Congress representing Northern Nevada. She lost to Republican Mark Amodei.

What are the big issues in the race?

Although the secretary of state is the nonpartisan arbiter of elections once in office, the race for the position has had a decidedly partisan bite that mirrors a national debate on election law.

Cegavske supports voter ID laws requiring voters to present personal identification at the polls before casting a ballot. Marshall opposes a voter ID law over concerns that it could disenfranchise minority and low-income voters.

Marshall supports allowing voter registration at the polls on election day, a measure Cegavske opposes. An election-day registration law passed the Democrat-controlled Legislature in 2013 but was vetoed by Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Marshall favors campaign finance reforms that allow voters to “follow the money” in elections. She has criticized Cegavske for voting at least three times against campaign finance reform.

Cegavske said she supports increasing transparency in reporting gifts, travel and campaign contributions to elected officials.

How’s the race shaping up?

The race is a tossup heading into the final month of the campaign. Marshall holds the edge in name recognition and fundraising. She raised $420,000 compared to Cegavske’s $193,000 through June 5. Updated campaign finance reports will be released Tuesday.

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