INDIANAPOLIS – On this week’s edition of IN Focus, we are hearing from all three candidates for Indiana Secretary of State, with new polling data showing some of the concerns American voters have about the state of our democracy.
According to the poll from CBS News/YouGov last week, 72 percent of Americans think our democracy is currently under threat. Among the reasons, 86 percent are most concerned about the influence of money in the political process, 69 percent say they’re concerned about a rise in political violence, and 67 percent are concerned about attempts to overturn elections.
Those numbers illustrate why the position of Secretary of State is so important. Here in Indiana, it’s up to voters to decide in November who should fill the role and become our new Secretary of State.
Recently, we spoke with all three candidates running in this year’s race:
Diego Morales (R)
Republican candidate Diego Morales initially called for a shortening of early voting days. Under his original proposal, the window would be cut in half from 28 days to 14 days. He has since shifted his stance to say the current election process is “working.” He added that any process to change Indiana’s voting laws would begin in the legislature.
“My job will be working with the General Assembly to pass any election laws,” Morales said.
Morales also responded to Indiana Democrats, who said the following in a recent statement:
“Voters just can’t trust anything Diego Morales says. He was fired twice from the very office he seeks to lead and has shady campaign finance issues (like buying himself a car). Diego made a campaign promise to restrict access to the ballot box, but now he’s singing a different tune.“
Morales said his views on early voting were only among his initial ideas for the office that came to him while working in the private sector. As for the vehicle his campaign purchased, Morales told us he saw no issues with the purchase.
“We have already put 20,000 miles on the new car, because I visited all 92 of this great state of Indiana,” Morales says. “I’m a grassroots guy and that’s what I like to do. It’s standard for any successful campaign to do this.”
Opponents have also been critical of Morales’ employment record with the Indiana Secretary of State’s office, as well as his prior statements on the 2020 election.
In an op-ed published in Hoosier State Today earlier this year, he wrote, “the outcome is questionable” but in our interview last week, Morales stated “Joe Biden is the legitimate President.”
Morales says his number one goal is to increase voter confidence. Speaking on the strength of American democracy, Morales says he is the “only minority running in the state of Indiana who is running for this office.” He hopes his personal experience will boost voter turnout. He also responded to complaints of not debating and appearing with the other candidates.
“They know who they are going to vote for,” Morales said. “I’m trying to convince voters who will vote for me. I don’t think my opponents will vote for me. I will not vote for them, so why do I need to?”
Our entire interview with Morales can be seen in the clip below:
Destiny Wells (D)
Speaking on the issues facing Hoosier voters, Democratic candidate Destiny Wells criticized Morales’ past time with the Secretary of State’s office. She adds that he doesn’t have the strong relationships needed to settle differences and move policies forward.
“You have to be able to work across the aisle, and with Republicans who have set these laws over the years,” Wells said.
Wells says she approved of the Republican legislature’s moves to expand opportunities for mail-in voting during the last presidential election. She wants to see many of those pandemic-era policies stay to expand voter outreach and turnout.
“Our polls show that Hoosiers overwhelmingly believe that Indiana elections are fair, safe, and secure,” Wells said. “I want to maintain at least the 11 standards that we have [for absentee voting]. And then go from there and make reasonable suggestions to the legislature to expand absentee voting.”
Wells says that she expects to go up against the legislature if lawmakers move in another direction. She criticized the Republican supermajority for passing efforts like SB1, Indiana’s new abortion law.
“Unfortunately over the summer, we’ve seen that Republican supermajority legislature really not act in accordance with the will of Hoosiers,” Wells said. “We need to look very deep as to why we have these problems. Part of that is gerrymandering.”
Our full interview with Wells can be seen in the clip below:
Jeff Maurer (L)
Libertarian candidate Jeff Maurer says that Hoosiers are “sick and tired” of the divisive rhetoric and questions surrounding the election system. That’s why he’s calling for an audit of all 92 counties to clear up any confusion ahead of future elections.
“I’m running for receipts and audits, two very common-sense solutions any Hoosier can get behind,” Maurer said. “A good election is one where the losers accept the results, not because they like the outcome, but because they trust the process. We need to get back to that.”
Maurer says that although he accepts the results of the 2020 election, voters “cannot understand what really happened” because there’s no way to audit it.
“I’m focused on giving us the tools to audit an election, and not just prove if there was fraud, but prove if there was no fraud,” Maurer said.
Maurer says that from a libertarian perspective, voters want “accountability, transparency, and really responsiveness” from the Secretary of State’s office.
“What we see from politicians today… they are not responding, they’re not answering, they’re not appearing, they’re not taking phone calls,” Maurer said. “That’s the frustrations that Hoosiers have.”
Watch more from all three candidates for Indiana Secretary of State in the videos above, and our full interview with Maurer in the clip below: