The race for Secretary of State in Iowa features candidates who have different philosophies about absentee or early voting. Iowa’s Secretary of State is also the state Commissioner of Elections. Current Secretary of State Chet Culver, a Democrat, was first elected in 1998, and has pushed to expand early voting. His Republican challenger, 42-year-old Matt Hartwig of Altoona, has made his opposition to absentee ballots a cornerstone of his campaign. Hartwig says absentee ballots are being abused for convenience sake, and should only be used by those who are traveling or too ill to go to the polls on election day. Hartwig has been a pastor in Indiana, worked in youth ministry in the Midwest, and has been the radio host of the Marriage Matters program. Hartwig says as the chief election officer, the Secretary of State is the gatekeeper of Iowa’s democracy, and it’s important that a “higher level of integrity” be brought to the office. Culver, who’s 36, was a history teacher and coach in Des Moines before becoming Secretary of State, and he says his primary goal is to encourage more voter participation, and absentee ballots are a means to that end. Culver says he’s delivered on his 1998 promises of boosting civic participation and streamlining access to the Secretary of State’s office with e-business. The Secretary of State’s office is the repository for a variety of business documents, like articles of incorporation.