Polk County Auditor Michael Mauro, a Democrat, has launched a campaign to become Iowa’s next Secretary of State. Mauro says there are a lot of changes happening nationwide in elections because of the Help America Vote Act, and he wants to take his years of experience as a county auditor to the state level to help reform the election system. Mauro was elected Polk County Auditor in 1996. Before that, he was the administrator in charge of elections in Iowa’s largest county. He started as Polk County elections director in 1983. During the most recent school board elections, Mauro reduced the number of polling places to save money. He says election officials around the country are starting to make that decision in similar, low-turn-out elections. “I think the big thing that I bring to the job is my relationship with other county auditors,” Mauro says. “The County Auditors mainly put on the elections and they’re going to have somebody in the office (of Secretary of State) who’s actually been in the trenches with them.” Secretary of State Chet Culver, the current office-holder, has been criticized just as his predecessors were for using the office for political gain, and critics say the person in charge of running elections statewide should be appointed rather than elected. Mauro disagrees, saying he’s had a good working relationship with not only his fellow Democrats but with Polk County Republicans. “They come and ask the difficult questions…and if something’s awry or amiss, believe me, they call you on it immediately,” Mauro says. He says taxpayers hold you directly accountable when you’re in an elected office. “The voters keep you honest, believe me, and they keep you working and they keep you on your toes,” he says. Republican Chuck Allison, a podiatrist from Des Moines, has announced he’s running for Secretary of State, too. Current Secretary of State Chet Culver is running for governor.
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