Why are they so important? Because, broadly speaking, secretaries of state are in charge of the vote. As BallotPedia puts it, “The officeholder also often serves as the chief election official in their state, administering state elections and maintaining official election results.”
So, Trump is building an army of election officials to fortify his already strong position in red states and building new bases of power in purple states.
It’s become such a major, provocative strategy that even the fake news New York Times has caught on. In fact, that outlet, The New York Times, reported:
All told, some 21 candidates who dispute Mr. Biden’s victory are running for secretary of state in 18 states, according to States United Action, a nonpartisan group tracking races for secretary of state throughout the country.
[…]Many of the election deniers are running in solidly red states where it is less likely that their actions could tilt a presidential election. But several others, who have formed a coalition calling itself the America First slate, are running in states won by Mr. Biden in 2020, including in the crucial battleground states of Michigan, Arizona and Nevada.
Noting the significance of that, Wayne Dupree’s site reports:
Their candidacies are alarming watchdog groups, Democrats and some fellow Republicans, who worry that these Trump supporters, if elected to posts that exist largely to safeguard and administer the democratic process, would weaponize those offices to undermine it — whether by subverting an election outright or by sowing doubts about any local, state or federal elections their party loses.
For decades, secretaries of state worked in relative anonymity, setting regulations and enforcing rules for how elections were administered by local counties and boards. Some held their jobs for many years and viewed themselves not as politicians but as bureaucrats in chief, tending to such arcane responsibilities as keeping the state seal or maintaining custody of state archives.
So, Trump has created an army of secretaries of state ready to work on his behalf to push conservative ideals and run the states as he’d like them to be run. Even if he’s not in power right now, by having so many influential people in the same position, Trump and his allies can work to ensure that red states follow similar strategies and keep up the good fight in mutually supporting ways as 2024 approaches.