This week we continue our coverage of the candidates vying for state office in 2020, with our first look at the race for Secretary of State with Missoula Democratic State Sen. Bryce Bennett. 

In his five terms in the Legislature, Bennett has sponsored numerous bills focused on voter access and other election laws. He sees clear threats to Montana elections from voter suppression, dark money, disinformation, hacking, and voter apathy, he said.

“There’s a lot of opportunities for the Secretary of State just to be a paper-pushing administrator,” Bennett said, “but I think that there’s a lot of opportunities, if done right, for the Secretary of State to be the chief advocate for voting in Montana.”

That’s important, Bennett said, at a time when a “voter suppression agenda” is discouraging the state’s electorate.

“We’re seeing limitless dark money flow into our elections; our Secretary of State [Corey Stapleton] is telling people that there’s rampant voter fraud everywhere; there’s hacking, both foreign and domestic trying to get into our election,” he said. “[I] hear from too many people that say ‘What’s the point? Why participate in an election where I’m not sure that my vote means anything or that it’s even going to be counted?’ And I think that a major role for the next Secretary of State will be to help people once again believe that their vote matters.”

The next Montana Secretary of State will also hold a seat on the five-member State Land Board, which Bennett said would give him the ability to advocate for continued access to public lands: “We’ve seen big swaths of public land being blocked off by a rim of private land; I want to make sure that every aspect of public land here in Montana is accessible to Montanans.”

This is our latest in our series covering the 2020 races for Montana state offices, and our first look at the race for Secretary of State. The Secretary of State holds the office for a four-year term, with a term limit of eight years.

John Adams began his professional career in 2001 in Idaho Falls, ID writing and editing for a variety of trade magazines. He covered topics ranging from potato and sugar beet farming to skate park and playground construction and maintenance. Adams started his newspaper career as the city government reporter for the Daily Jefferson County Union in Fort Atkinson, WI where he covered the City Hall, police, fire and local courthouse beats. In 2005 he joined the staff of the Missoula Independent in Missoula, MT where he worked as a staff reporter covering a wide range of issues including the environment,...