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Published October 19 2010

Forum editorial: Re-elect Al Jaeger secretary of state

North Dakota’s secretary of state has been among the most conscientious, hard-working elected officials in state government. Al Jaeger has presided over an office that has seen an increasing workload in nearly all areas of his jurisdiction. He’s handled the additional tasks as quickly and efficiently as the resources of his office will allow – sometimes not quickly or efficiently enough for his political antagonists.

Nonetheless, fair analysis of Jaeger’s tenure in office must conclude that he’s done a very good job managing all functions, including his primary responsibility for elections. His opponent, Democratic legislator Corey Mock of Grand Forks, has attempted to portray relatively minor clerical glitches and technology delays as evidence of the secretary’s mismanagement. But that characterization is hyperbole at best, downright fabrication at worst.

For example, when the office workload required more work hours from staff, Jaeger offered overtime rather than hiring full-time temporary workers, which would have cost more. Ever vigilant about the taxpayers’ money, Jaeger is restrained by his biennial budget. He has to work within the budget even as the workload has increased. He’s done so with good management and a dedicated, hard-working staff.

Regarding elections, Jaeger and his team have worked hand-in-glove with county auditors to make North Dakota elections among the most accessible, most well-run in the nation. Other than a couple of auditors with political agendas, county leaders praise the secretary’s election initiatives – among them new voting machines nearly everywhere in the state and early voting opportunities in selected locations, including Fargo and Cass County.

Candidate Mock has conducted a vigorous campaign that’s been able to generate a headline or two. But his contention that the office is not up to speed regarding technology or work with county auditors suggests his focus has been unfairly selective and less-than-informed about the secretary’s excellent record.

Jaeger has demonstrated again and again his attention to detail; his strict adherence to state law regarding ballot measures; his stewardship of public money; his ability to work with county election officials to modernize voting. He’s earned another four-year term.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.