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Meet secretary of state candidates — Gwen Collins-Greenup and Nancy Landry

Secretary of State candidates Gwen Collins-Greenup, a Democrat (left) and Nancy Landry, a Republican.
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Secretary of State candidates Gwen Collins-Greenup, a Democrat (left) and Nancy Landry, a Republican.

Louisianans will elect the state’s first female attorney general on Saturday — and with two women in the runoff for secretary of state, Louisiana will have two women in statewide offices for the first time since 2008.

Republican Nancy Landry, who serves as Louisiana’s first assistant secretary of state, and Democrat Gwen Collins-Greenup, an attorney from Baton Rouge, are the two candidates vying for the position on the Nov. 18 ballot.

As Louisiana’s chief election officer, the secretary of state is primarily responsible for ensuring that state elections are fair and run smoothly. The office also oversees state records and has a commercial division that manages business registrations in the state.

The next secretary of state will be tasked with implementing a new voting system for Louisiana. The Legislature passed a bill in 2021 banning the use of the state’s current voting machines, and requiring the new system to have a paper trail.

Both Landry and Collins-Greenup have said they prefer a system that would include a combination of digital technology and a paper trail.

Democrat Gwen Collins-Greenup

Collins-Greenup told Louisiana Considered that she first recommended switching to a voting system with a paper trail when she ran for secretary of state in 2019. Strengthening Louisiana’s elections and implementing a new voting system will be a top priority for her if elected, she said.

“It’s a simple implementation process,” she said. “We just have to have a leader at the helm of the secretary of state’s office that’s able to get the job done.”

Collins-Greenup said that her experience as an attorney, accountant and small business owner makes her a good candidate to strengthen Louisiana’s election systems.

Louisiana currently ranks seventh among all states in election integrity, according to an assessment by the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank. But Collins-Greenup said that, with the implementation of a new voting system, she believes Louisiana can lead the nation in election integrity.

Collins-Greenup is also a proponent of increasing voter turnout, and said she believes the secretary of state should be leading that effort — even though voter turnout is not part of the secretary of state’s official responsibilities, and is typically left up to the citizens of the state.

Still, Collins-Greenup said that, if elected, she wants to use the secretary of state’s voter outreach division to educate students as young as middle school about voting and its importance.

Collins-Greenup and Landry both secured 19% of the vote in the primary, but as a Democrat in a heavily Republican state, Collins-Greenup still faces a tough path to victory in the general election.

Republican Nancy Landry

Her opponent, Nancy Landry, is endorsed by the Louisiana Republican Party and by Republican Gov.-elect Jeff Landry. Landry is a former state lawmaker from Lafayette and has served as second-in-command to current Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin since 2019.

Like Collins-Greenup, Landry prefers a new voting system that combines digital technology with a paper trail. She is also a proponent of legislation that would allow the office to canvass voters who have been inactive and more easily remove them from the state’s voter rolls.

Landry declined an interview with WRKF’s and WWNO’s program Louisiana Considered. But she advocated in a September forum with a larger group of secretary of state candidates for a voting system that employs technology and keeps a paper trail that can be audited.

“We have good elections,” she said in the forum. “We can do better by having an updated system that's fully auditable, and that's what I'd like to see.”

The general election will be held this Saturday, Nov. 18. Find a guide to all the major races on the ballot — and a guide to voting in Louisiana — on WWNO.org.

Molly Ryan is a political reporter and covers state politics from the Louisiana Capitol.

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