BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — With a new secretary of state to be elected in a couple weeks, the outgoing election leader in the state talked about how threats and misinformation led him to not run again.
Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin announced earlier this year he would not be seeking reelection. He has held the office since 2018 and led the state through the trials of voting in a pandemic and the onslaught of lies about election fraud in the state.
Ardoin was candid with the Baton Rouge Press Club on Monday about his reasoning behind not wanting to run again being from the stress of facing more misinformation and backlash from fringe groups.
“People that act as if they are election experts and they’ve never put on an election. They don’t know the nuances of elections, security, they don’t know the nuances of election policy and procedures, and they don’t know the law, but they assume that they know and they apply what happens in one state to other states,” Ardoin said.
He offered a word of advice to the person who will replace him to not let those voices sway the decisions of the office.
“Make the decisions that are best for the state and not for any one contingency that is pushing back or pushing for something else,” Ardoin said.
Following controversy over selecting new voting machines to replace the current aging system that ages back before Ardoin’s tenure the legislature created the Voting System Commission. It was tasked with exploring different types of voting systems and what kind would be preferred by Louisiana voters. This was a way to slow down the previous efforts by Ardoin to find a contractor to offer new machines.
“The current legislature likes to micromanage. It’s kind of frustrating when you’re elected statewide. And I might add, I was elected with more votes than John Bel [Edwards] got in the runoff. That we then have microcosms of legislators who are wanting to micromanage every aspect,” Ardoin said.
Meetings turned into a platform for people like Mike Lindell to cast doubt over elections that Ardoin had emphatically assured the public were safe and accurate.
“I think the Voting System Commission, although a good idea in concept, created the very situation that brought about intimidation, harassment,” Ardoin said.
He talked about harassment of his staff lowering morale and there has been a drastic drop in interest in being poll workers as people are fearful to be part of the process that has faced heavy criticism. Ardoin said the attacks toward him began to take a toll on his health.
“There were door hangers placed on my door and in my entire neighborhood saying inaccurate things about me and my record, almost trying to incite my neighbors,” Ardoin said.
The state is still yet to decide on a new voting system, and with another presidential race on the horizon, Ardoin knew he had to pass on the baton.
Republican Nancy Landry and Democrat Gwen Collins-Greenup face off in the Nov.18 general election to replace him.