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Secretary of state has eye on 2nd term

More left to do, Republican says by Rachel Herzog | February 12, 2021 at 6:55 a.m.
Secretary of State John Thurston speaks at the state Capitol in Little Rock in this July 2, 2020, file photo.

Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston will seek reelection in 2022, he announced Thursday.

A campaign news release touted his office's work streamlining the relationship between state government and businesses, and the implementation of a statewide integrated voting system for the 2020 election.

"I am hopeful that Arkansans have noticed my commitment to them and would allow me to serve a second and final term, and I just will continue to be a good steward and serve Arkansas with the highest level of integrity that I can," he said in a phone interview.

Thurston, a Republican whose four-year term began in 2019, said that it had been "an exciting and challenging first term," marked by getting every county on the same updated voting equipment during the coronavirus pandemic.

Among the things he plans to address if elected to a second term are updating the systems for campaign filings and for business and commercial services.

"The system that we're operating on now is really outdated and I feel doesn't serve the business community very well, so that's going to be a goal of ours going forward," Thurston said.

The secretary of state is one of Arkansas' seven constitutional officers and is responsible for maintaining the state Capitol and its grounds, assisting counties with conducting elections, and handling corporate filings.

The secretary of state is also a member of the Board of Apportionment, which draws boundaries for legislative districts each decade and will perform that job this year. The other two board members are the governor and the attorney general.

Thurston said he plans to bring a common-sense approach to the redistricting process that makes sense for communities and eliminates confusion on where lines start and end.

The office is limited to two four-year terms.

Thurston was the only publicly announced candidate for the office as of Thursday. Susan Inman, a Democratic candidate who lost her bid for the office to Thurston in 2018, said she does not plan to run in 2022.

Inman, a former director of elections in the secretary of state's office, said she believes there is more the office should be doing to better serve Arkansas voters, including supporting online voter registration and providing counties with uniform materials and instructions for absentee voting.

Thurston said he had no plans to propose legislation to change the absentee-voting or voter-registration process.

He said he is not opposed to online voter registration, but some laws would need to be changed to make that possible.

"I'm probably not going to push legislation like that, however, I am open to hearing, I guess, solutions," he said.

Thurston, 48, lives in East End in Saline County. Before being elected secretary of state in 2018, he served as land commissioner starting in 2011.

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