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Former Secretary of State Bill Bradbury on Brad Avakian and This Year's Race

Former Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury weighs in on Brad Avakian and Dennis Richardson in this year's race for his former position.

This year, 14 states around the country will have voting restrictions that make it more difficult for Americans to exercise their right to vote. Some sharply limit early voting, some make registration more difficult, and some have enacted strict photo ID requirements that disempower voters and erode participation in our democratic process.

At the same time, our state has moved in a better direction, rejecting voter suppression efforts and instead working to break down barriers to our democracy. Expanding voter participation has been a central goal of Oregon's system of elections for a generation.

It’s why I support Brad Avakian for secretary of state.

As the state’s chief elections officer, Brad will work for fair elections that give everyone a voice. He’ll build on our landmark motor voter law and work for greater transparency in campaigns. Significantly, he’ll fight to pass meaningful campaign finance limits that reduce the influence of corporate money in Oregon elections.

Dennis Richardson offers a different approach. And it seems in this campaign, he’s desperate to talk about anything but his record.

The truth is that time and again, Richardson has voted for more barriers to voting, more roadblocks to participation, and less transparency in our elections:  For three legislative sessions in a row — in 2005, 2007 and 2009 — Richardson led the charge for voter identification laws like the ones that have been ruled unconstitutional in recent court decisions. Don’t be fooled. These measures aren’t about “voter integrity”; they’re about disenfranchising poor and minority voters for partisan political advantage.

In striking down a similar North Carolina voter ID law, the court noted that this Republican-led effort suppressed African-American voter turnout “with almost surgical precision.”

Richardson has also stood against common-sense voter registration efforts that make it easier for Oregonians to have a say in our elections.

In 2013, Richardson opposed a measure to strengthen voter registration programs at universities and community colleges, HB 3175. Richardson voted against Oregon’s electronic voter registration system, a measure that passed 45-9. Richardson even voted against greater transparency for out-of-state political contributions, putting him in the extreme minority on a measure that passed 49-8.

Certainly, there’s plenty to be wary about when it comes to Dennis Richardson’s hardline views on marriage equality and reproductive rights. Richardson’s views on man-made climate change – which have more in common with Donald Trump than 97 percent of the world’s scientists — make him ill-suited for the State Land Board.

But voters who care about fair and open elections deserve to know the truth about Richardson’s record of right-wing extremism.

I trust Brad Avakian to protect and strengthen the integrity of our elections. I know that he’ll fight to get big money out of politics and work for a system that gives everyday Oregonians a voice in our democracy.

The next secretary of state can either build on Oregon’s approach or turn back the clock on the progress we've made.

Vote for Brad Avakian for secretary of state.

Bill Bradbury served as Secretary of State from 1999 to 2009.