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La Follette says Wisconsin's election system works so why change it

Wisconsin hasn't had any problems with elections since the state Elections Board was established, so changing the current system isn't very realistic.

That's how Doug La Follette responds to his primary competitor Scot Ross' idea that election oversight should return to the office of the Wisconsin Secretary of State.

"I think it's a real mixed issue," said La Follette. "Having the oversight of elections rest with an elected official gives elections a higher profile."

However, La Follette, who has been the secretary of state for over 20 years, says there is a big downside to that idea.

"In the 2000 and 2004 elections the secretaries of state in Florida and Ohio did things that were illegal in my opinion and that changed those elections," La Follette said.

He added that he doubts that he or his Democratic opponent would ever do anything like that.

"But what about future secretaries of state?" he said.

He added that he supports the idea of merging the ethics and elections boards.

La Follette says that there are two important things to being a good secretary of state. The first being a good manager of the office and looking for better ways of doing things.

Right now he says one of his main projects is to get the volumes of records his office managers digitized and then get a Web site built that would allow the public easier access to those records.

"These are the things that aren't exciting news," La Follette said.

The second most important aspect to the job says La Follette is to be a good public official and promote public programs such as getting people energized about voting and the state's environment.

He says he routinely travels to the state and has recently been to both Green Bay and Stevens Point.

In answering his opponent's criticism that he doesn't get around the state enough La Follette says, "I think I've shaken more hands than Bill Proxmire did."

He adds that he would be the better candidate on the Democratic ticket in November than his opponent.

"We (Democrats) have to get elected a governor and an attorney general. We also need to do better in the Legislature," said La Follette. "I am the stronger candidate for the November ballot."

La Follette was first elected to the office in 1974. In 1982 he was elected again and has held the office since. He holds a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Columbia University and was an assistant professor of chemistry and Ecology at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

A strong environmentalist, La Follette authored the "The Survival Handbook: A Strategy for Saving Planet Earth" in 1991. He also helped form the environmental activist group that is now known as "Clean Wisconsin."