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Phil McGrane: Secretary of State candidate profile

McGrane, the current Ada County Clerk, faces Democrat Shawn Keenan in the general election race for Secretary of State in Idaho.

BOISE, Idaho — Ada County Clerk, Republican Phil McGrane, is aiming for statewide office on Tuesday as a finalist in the race for Secretary of State. McGrane defeated Dorothy Moon and Mary Souza in the May, Republican Primary.

So, why does McGrane want to be elected as the new Secretary of State?

“It's just a great opportunity with Secretary Denny retiring, to step into that role and bring some of the hands-on experience I've learned over the years working on elections, counting ballots, training, poll workers and bring that to the secretary of state's office,” McGrane said.  

McGrane writes on his campaign site that he has worked with elections as far back as 2005. Since that time, McGrane says he has learned a lot through his role in the Ada County Clerk’s office, working with other clerks around Idaho.

“I have the relationships having worked with the clerks. I currently serve as the elections chair for the Association of Clerks. And so having that experience with them, I think is a big help. But one of the really big things is actually having done some of the work. You know, it's easy to read Idaho Code and say, here's what the law says. But on Election Day, when you have hundreds of thousands of people headed to the polls and you're trying to figure out the logistics, it can feel challenging in terms of how you actually implement that. And being able to have empathy and understanding for what's going on in the field, I think will be a real advantage coming into the office,” McGrane said.   

In recent years, there has been a lot of discussion in the U.S. and Idaho about election integrity and security. McGrane says with so much focus on those conversations right now, he believes he is a great person to lead Idaho elections given his experience.

“2020 election brought so much attention to our elections. When I started my career ages ago, it was right after the 2000 election with the hanging chad. And I think this is another big inflection point in terms of policy, in terms of elections, election integrity. And so being in a position, having experience and understanding what it means to run elections, but also hearing from the public and their concerns about building confidence in our elections, I think this is just a really unique opportunity to bring those skills and hopefully build trust in our elections,” McGrane said.   

In recent years, some Idaho lawmakers have pitched changes to Idaho election law. Some proposals included big changes; others more minor. McGrane says he believes he would be a good partner for Idaho lawmakers and the general public to work with when talking about elections, and election legislation.

“Many people don't realize things like we check signatures on every single absentee ballot that comes in, that our equipment is never connected to the Internet, that every Idaho and vote on a paper ballot. Those are just simple things and policies that we already have in place that help keep our elections secure. And so a lot of the questions related to the legislature is informing them about what we currently do. So before we start fixing things, let's understand where we are and what's working, and then we can look at what opportunities there are to improve it,” McGrane said.  

McGrane says, if elected, amongst his goals is something he has heard Idahoans ask for, for years, an official Idaho election voter guide from the Secretary of State’s office.

“The most common question that we get at the clerk's office, at the secretary of state's office, is 'where is my voter guide?' Right. And people want to know who they're voting on and what they're voting for. And so I'm going to be pitching to the legislature the opportunity for us to provide a voter guide as a state. We currently do a pamphlet for constitutional amendments and initiatives, but the people want to know who's running in their county seats or who's. Who are the judges that will be on the ballot? And right now, there's no clean source for all that information. And so hopefully, as secretary of state, I'll be able to lead an effort to provide more information to voters,” McGrane said. 

To learn more about Idaho candidates and measures on the ballot, check out the KTVB Voter Guide.

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