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Brown showcases experience, integrity

Does it matter who is Oregon’s Secretary of State? You bet it does.

The Secretary of State is the second highest elected office in Oregon. It is not an entry-level position.

This is why Barbara Roberts, former governor and Secretary of State, has endorsed my re-election, saying that on the issues of transparency, accountability and scrutinizing the operations of state government, I have done an extraordinary job as Secretary of State.

Using the Secretary of State’s auditing power, I work to ensure that your tax dollars are managed wisely. In fact, during my first term, my team identified more than $180 million in savings that instead can be directed to our schools and health care for families, kids and seniors.

To help Oregon small businesses, my team audited our community colleges and workforce development programs to ensure that education and training programs match the skills employers need. With the help of chambers of commerce across the state, we launched an online “one-stop shop” so that entrepreneurs can easily find what they need to establish a business and create jobs without getting mired in red tape.

Finally, over the past four years, we have done truly exciting, exceptional things to strengthen democracy itself. I’m proud to say that we’ve had more than 160,000 Oregonians use the state’s new online voter registration — a system that saves taxpayer dollars. We were also the first state in the nation to use iPad technology to help voters with disabilities and overseas military voters cast their ballots.

My main opponent, Republican Knute Buehler, doesn’t have one minute of relevant experience, yet he’s running for the second-highest office in the state, and what he has offered so far in his campaign should concern every Oregonian.

On our most fundamental right as Americans — the right to vote — Dr. Buehler threatens to bring the war on voting to Oregon.

More than 30 states have considered new laws that limit access to the ballot box. In passing these laws, right-wing proponents allege that there is widespread elections fraud. However, there is no evidence of widespread fraud in Oregon or any other state.

The real reason behind the war on voting is to suppress voter turnout, particularly among the poor, minority citizens and women —and the Brennan Center for Justice concludes these laws could make it more difficult “for more than 5 million eligible voters to cast ballots” in the 2012 election.

Dr. Buehler has twice complained that Oregonians “have to show more ID to rent a movie from Blockbuster than to register to vote in Oregon.” And on Oregon’s vote-by-mail system, Dr. Buehler has concerns about “undue pressure to vote because you don’t have the privacy of a polling booth.”

Dr. Buehler’s statements aim to scare Oregonians into believing that our elections aren’t secure, the same false premise on which the right-wing war on voting is based. This is not someone Oregonians can trust to defend our most basic right as Americans.

Oregon is a special place with a remarkable spirit of innovation and progress. Together we can defend the progressive spirit we have created here in Oregon — and keep it moving forward.

Kate Brown, Salem, is Secretary of State of Oregon.