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In what has become a familiar sight, two of the candidates for Indiana secretary of state debated Tuesday before an Indianapolis audience — this time, the Rotary Club of Indianapolis — with the sharpest dialogue focused on a third candidate who did not attend.

Democrat Destiny Scott Wells (above, left) and Libertarian Jeff Maurer (above, center) briefly engaged one another throughout the debate, primarily over Maurer’s advocacy of a 92-county audit of election results to strengthen election security, while repeatedly directing their sharpest criticism to Republican Diego Morales. Morales has not participated in any joint appearances by the candidates for secretary of state, including two other debates during the past few weeks in Indianapolis.

“We’ll speak for him,” Wells said of Morales at one point during the debate as she prepared to criticize one of the Republican’s stances. “That’s what happens when you don’t show up.”

Also possibly working to her and Maurer’s advantage, Wells suggested, were the circumstances of Morales’ nomination. He defeated incumbent Republican Holli Sullivan at the Republican state convention — signalling a split in the Indiana GOP between a more moderate wing supporting Sullivan and Gov. Eric Holcomb and a more conservative wing that protested some of Holcomb’s public health policies during the COVID-19 pandemic by going for Morales.

“There was a big backlash that resulted in a pretty far-right candidate in Diego,” Wells said. “You have Republican voters peeling off and they’re either voting for me or for Jeff.”

The sharpest policy difference between Wells and Maurer, as in past debates, involved election security. Maurer reiterated his support of a system that provides voters with a receipt which they can track through the tabulation process as well as the 92-county audit.

“I’m running for receipts and audits,” he said. “This is just good business practice … Audits are the system that shines light into this.

“We’ve seen enough warning signs on the dashboard of our elections to know that there’s work to do.”

As in past debates, Wells disagreed, citing reasons of cost and priority.

“I like to approach this system being a pragmatist,” she said “We can’t afford the 92-county audit. We just can’t.”

Wells urged attention to “the front end” of the attention process by upgrading voting equipment that she described as anitquated in some counties.

“We can do better but it’s on the front end,” she said. “while Jeff concentrates on the back.” — The Indiana Citizen

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