Last week, SALPAL and the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service hosted a panel featuring Kathryn Boockvar, former Secretary of State of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Trey Grayson, former Secretary of State of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, on Secretaries of State and election administration. The panel reflected on this month’s midterm elections and the potential consequences of those elections in 2024’s presidential contest. Meryl Chertoff, SALPAL’s Executive Director, and Adjunct Professor of Law, moderated.


Sam Feist, L’99,CNN’s Washington Bureau Chief, and IPPS board member introduced the conversation. He emphasized the importance of honest, non-partisan election administration and noted that voters rejected most candidates who denied that the 2020 election was legitimate, though did note that some election deniers prevailed in their races. 


Among the topics Boockvar and Grayson discussed: their paths to becoming Secretaries of State, the role of the National Association of Secretaries of State in creating a culture of shared professionalism among the top state election officials, potential complications to elections that could arise if the U.S. Supreme Court adopts the independent state legislature theory propounded by the petitioners in Moore v. Harper, and their recommendations for avoiding future election-related crises which thus far reached a crescendo on January 6, 2021. Boockvar also discussed her office’s role in 2020 election litigation, in which the Secretary of State defended the legitimacy of Pennsylvania’s elections. Grayson highlighted the checks and balances built into state-level election systems that can prevent mischief. Both were concerned about the growing role of misinformation and disinformation in the world of elections, but were cautiously optimistic that this year’s efforts at vigorous public education efforts and other proactive solutions to increase confidence in elections and undercut misinformation about election administration had largely succeeded. For 2024, they counseled even greater investment in election infrastructure and staff, and federal-state cooperation on cybersecurity and election protection. 

This event builds on SALPAL’s conversation with Secretaries of State recorded in the run-up to the 2020 elections: