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Missoula Democratic state senator running for secretary of state

Posted: 5:02 PM, May 29, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-29 19:03:00-04

HELENA — Democratic state Sen. Bryce Bennett of Missoula said Wednesday he’s running for secretary of state in 2020 — the first Democrat in next year’s race for this office, which is Montana’s top state election administrator.

Bennett, 34, said he has a strong legislative record of improving access to voting, making government more “transparent” and protecting individuals’ private data, and would continue those efforts as secretary of state.

“Every voter deserves to have their voice heard and their vote counted on election day,” he said in a statement. “As your next secretary of state, I will lead an efficient, transparent office that is always accountable to voters, Main Street businesses and the people of our state.”

The incumbent secretary of state, Republican Corey Stapleton, is running for governor in 2020.

Republican state Senate President Scott Sales of Bozeman announced earlier this year that he’s running for secretary of state.

Bennett has been in the Legislature since 2011, first as a state representative from Missoula and then as state senator starting this year. He is the executive director of the Montana Public Interest Research Group, or MontPIRG, a nonprofit organization that helps people register to vote, among other things.

Bennett was born in Billings and graduated from high school in Missoula. He has a degree in communication studies from the University of Montana.

Bennett has sponsored several bills on elections and voting, including one this year that allows late registrants to return their absentee ballot to local polls on election day, rather than to the county election office.