In 2006, Libertarian Rob Hodgkinson received 2.6 percent of the vote in the November general election for secretary of state, where in a four-candidate field, the Republican and Democrat combined amassed about 95 percent of the vote.
This year, Hodgkinson, of Stilwell, is the lone minor party candidate in a race for secretary of state. Republican Scott Schwab, a state legislator from Olathe, and Democrat Brian “BAM” McClendon, a computer software developer living in Lawrence, have deeper campaign reserves and bigger party bases.
Hodgkinson, in Hutchinson for the Kansas State Fair, considers himself the “real” candidate for the job and outlined changes he would like to see:
• Preferably, the secretary of state should be a nonpartisan job, just as local school boards and many city commissions are nonpartisan offices. “At least you’re not out there flying the flag,” Hodgkinson said of secretaries of state who are active in their political party or use it as a political stepping stone. Secretary of State Kris Kobach is running for governor this year.
• The secretary of state names county election officers for four big counties: Johnson, Sedgwick, Shawnee, and Wyandotte. County voters in those four counties should elect their election officials, as voters in other counties choose the person in charge of elections in their county.
• Kobach secured the authority to prosecute voter fraud cases. “The county attorney can handle that," Hodgkinson said.
• The secretary of state office “has to be the soapbox” for promoting voter registration and voter participation. The individual in that job should make television commercials as the state treasurer advocates for college savings accounts, Hodgkinson said. He also thinks encouraging more people to run is advantageous.
• He likes ranked voting choice. For example, in the GOP gubernatorial primary where there were seven candidates, including teenage candidates, and Kobach won with about 42 percent of the vote, a ranked voting method — where the voter lists their choices 1 through 7 — could have resulted in a calculation where Gov. Jeff Colyer likely would have won.
• The technology in the secretary of state’s office is out of date, he said. It fails to recognize that most people under 30 use a smartphone, not a desk computer, for transactions, and the secretary of state’s website is not mobile-friendly.
• He’s a big fan of the paper ballot and advance voting, and he is skeptical of the voting machines in the state’s biggest counties. He also says internet voting cannot offer the level of secrecy of the paper ballot.
Hodgkinson, who went to Buhler USD 313 schools, has owned a business, worked in information technology and has been a longtime activist in the Libertarian Party. Now he’s in real estate and also drives a bus for a retirement community.
Some candidates spend two or three hours a day raising money, but Hodgkinson said he is spending his time campaigning. “It’s a choice,” he said.