- Associated Press - Monday, October 27, 2014

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho political veteran and Republican candidate Lawerence Denney is running against Democratic challenger and House freshman Holli Woodings for Secretary of State.

Both say they will leave their partisanship at the door if elected.

The position requires the winner to oversee Idaho’s election process and business registrations. The Secretary of State also serves on the five-member Idaho Land Board, which oversees 2.5 million acres of Idaho land to benefit state public schools.

It’s also the first time in almost 50 years Idaho voters won’t see the names Ben Ysursa, who is the incumbent, or Pete Cenarrusa, who served seven terms and was Idaho’s longest serving secretary.

Both politicians gained the respect of Republicans and Democrats as serving in the office as fair and nonpartisan election chiefs. Despite both being Republicans, Ysursa and Cenarrusa were known as not being afraid to challenge the Idaho GOP if they felt an initiative would hinder voter access.

Denney is a nine-term lawmaker, who has served as former House Speaker and majority leader. Three years ago, he was a key supporter of Idaho’s closed GOP primary election system, which closed the Republican primary election to anyone who isn’t a registered Republican.

Along the campaign trail and in televised debates, Denney vocalized his support of Idaho taking greater measures to improving security in the voting process, even though he agreed with his opponent that fraud is not yet a problem in the Gem State.

He also said he would favor giving control of managing primary elections to political parties.

“There’s a kind of misnomer that the primary is an election. It’s not an election,” said Denney. “It’s a nomination process. It should not be, in my opinion, it should not be run by the state government but by the parties themselves, because we are selecting our candidates.”

Meanwhile, Woodings, a Boise native, argues that the next secretary of state should focus on improving Idaho’s low voter turnout rates and not make voting more difficult.

Woodings has just finished her first term as a state representative, before that she was president of Boise’s largest neighborhood association and volunteered on a successful school tax levy campaign.

Both candidates have said they would like to see the secretary of state’s office use more technology and upgrade the website to make it more accessible.

However, the two disagree what kind of technology should be used. For example, Denney suggested that it would be an easy transition for county clerks to begin screening voter fingerprints because they already have signature scanning capabilities.

Woodings responded by releasing a mobile application that provided links to political candidates’ websites, social media websites and polling locations.

“This is just one example of how we can use technology to encourage voter participation,” Woodings said. “Too often politicians are tempted to use technology to restrict our access to the polls, I’m working to make sure we’re using it to increase the availability of information.”

Denney comes with name recognition and an “R” by his name, two advantages to winning a statewide race in Idaho. However, despite having a brief list of Republican lawmaker supporters on his website, Denney has gained political enemies throughout his years in office that could hurt him in the polls.

Woodings, meanwhile, has recently released a statewide television advertisement as a last-minute effort to increase her name recognition but as a Democrat, conservative voters in Idaho’s reddest sections of the state may be hesitant to cast a ballot for her.

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