John A. Gale is the 26th Nebraska secretary of state. He was appointed by Gov. Mike Johanns in December 2000 to fill a vacancy created with the resignation of Scott Moore. Gale was elected to four-year terms in 2002 and 2006.
Gale is committed to providing fast, easy and quality public service at low cost, and serving citizens in a positive and professional manner.
As secretary of state, Gale oversees the following areas: elections, business services, occupational licensing, state agency rules and regulations, records management, international relations and youth civics programs. He serves as chief election officer, chief protocol officer and state records administrator.
By law, he serves on numerous state boards. He serves as chairman of the Records Board, Real Estate Commission and Collection Agency Licensing Board, as well as serving on the Pardons Board, Board of State Canvassers, and Accountability and Disclosure Commission.
In his role of chief election officer, Gale has been active in both state and federal election reform in the wake of the problems of the 2000 presidential election. He has taken a leadership role in efforts to increase voter turnout.
A primary focus of his Election Division has been to bring Nebraska into compliance with the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.
The division was responsible for providing Nebraska 's 93 counties with $10.9 million of new election equipment in 2006. The equipment included optical-scanning machines to count paper ballots and voting machines designed for people with disabilities. The equipment was acquired to meet voting-system standards under HAVA.
The division was responsible for the implementation of a statewide voter-registration system at a cost of $4 million to replace individual county systems. All 93 counties were on the computerized system by November 2005. HAVA mandates that each state have a centralized voter-registration system.
Gale has served as chairman of two election task forces created by the Legislature. The Nebraska Election Task Force conducted a widespread examination of the state's election system and issued its report in December 2002. The Vote Nebraska Initiative studied ways to increase voter turnout and issued its report in December 2004.
Gale is involved in national election-reform efforts through his service on two advisory groups of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission – the Standards Board and Technical Guidelines Development Committee.
An area of emphasis for Gale's administration has been international relations. With his backing, the Legislature in 2003 passed legislation that designates the secretary of state as chief protocol officer with the authority to promote commerce, educational studies and cultural exchange between foreign nations and Nebraska. Gale's goal is to develop contacts, expertise and programs to connect Nebraska with the international community.
Gale has instituted two conferences to foster Nebraska 's international ties. The Secretary of State's Diplomatic Conference, which is held in Omaha, brings foreign diplomats to Nebraska to showcase what the state can offer the international community. The Secretary of State's Foreign Affairs Symposium, which is held in Lincoln, focuses on how Nebraska is benefiting from global connections and ways to strengthen the state's international efforts. Each conference is held every other year.
With his Business Services Division, Gale has emphasized the importance of providing quality service to the business community at low cost. He has worked to expand the online services provided by the division, including Uniform Commercial Code and business-registry filings.
The Business Services Division oversees notary public commissions. At Gale's behest, the Legislature in 2004 passed legislation that made needed improvements to state law regarding notaries. He then sponsored a series of free seminars in 16 cities throughout Nebraska to explain the legislation to notaries and other interested parties.
Gale's goal with his Licensing Division has been to protect the public in the regulation of those fields his office oversees – collection agencies, debt management firms, private detectives, and polygraph and voice-stress examiners.
As state records administrator, Gale has been a strong advocate of electronic government. He believes it is important to make state government information and forms more accessible to citizens through Web sites.
As chairman of the Nebraska State Quarter Design Committee, Gale oversaw an elaborate process from 2003-05 to develop a design for the commemorative quarter. The committee considered some 6,500 designs submitted by the public. In the end, Gov. Dave Heineman selected a design featuring Chimney Rock for the state quarter.
As part of his duties, Gale believes it is vitally important to provide civics education to the state's youth to make sure democracy is healthy in the future. These efforts include Statehood Day birthday parties, Nebraska Student Vote, Honor a Veteran, Vote in Honor of a Veteran, Youth Election Service, Nebraska Capitol Forum on America's Future and Nebraska Spirit Art Contest.
ale has been active in the National Association of Secretaries of State. He has served on its Executive Committee and is a past chairman of its Business Services and International Relations committees.