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STATE OF NEBRASKA
John A. Gale
Secretary of State
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: Shelley Harrold
June 9, 2003 402-471-1572

News from the Nebraska Secretary of State’s Office

Secretary of State John Gale announced the completion of a "two-year reorganization." In addition to his efforts to "open up government to the people," Gale announced several internal changes in his office to "make doing business with government easier."

Gale said "In a continuing effort to open up government to Nebraska citizens, I am initiating several new communication programs: a quarterly e-mail called "Knowledgeable Notary" to help our 20,000 notary publics; a quarterly e-mail "Business Services Newsletter" for our many lenders and corporate filers; and a general semi-annual "newsletter" to interested members of the public. More detail is now also available on our website www.sos.state.ne.us".

Due to the expected $8 million his Office is receiving in federal funds for election reform this year, and some $22 million over four years, Gale has created a new Elections Division, headed by a Deputy Secretary, with six full-time employees, and nationally recognized consultants in the elections area.  It is a major project with a number of mandates and some challenging deadlines.  In the process, Gale said, "we will significantly change the face of elections in Nebraska by the end of 2006."

In order to gain some efficiencies and economies, Gale merged the Corporations Division, UCC and Notary Office into a new Business Services Division with a Director and two Deputies.  Gale said "this merger is working very well for us and for the public."

Because of the variety of licensing done by the Office, including the new duties this year of handling the Address Confidentiality Program, Gale has combined them into a new Office with an attorney as Director and an Administrative Assistant as staff.  Gale commented "this has been completed, and so far it has been working smoothly with more consistency and accountability."

The State Legislature passed a bill this year specifically authorizing Gale to be the State Protocol Officer, and to engage in educational, cultural, and exchange endeavors with other nations to build good will and closer ties with those nations. While the Governor remains fully in charge of trade negotiations and agreements, Gale is now allowed to assist in building positive contacts with other countries on behalf of the State.  Gale said "I have a new assistant assigned to International Relations. We are working hard on promoting sister city programs, Councils on International Visitors under a U.S. State Department program, and promoting more foreign exchange students coming to Nebraska and Nebraska students studying abroad."

Promoting youth citizenship and youth commitment to voting, Gale has been working with a program called "Vote in Honor of a Veteran."  The past three years, his Office has searched for a way to reach out to all high school seniors.  In school year 2001-2002, Gale visited seniors at 50 high schools.  Gale added "This was great, but it is hard to do every year, especially in years without elections.  So, Adjutant General Lempke and I worked with NETV recently to film a 60 minute story about defending our freedoms, the sacrifices of our veterans, the importance of saying thanks, but just as crucial, the importance of voting to preserve our representative democracy and our freedoms.  We worked around the narrative of Bernie Nider of Lincoln, one of the first off of a Higgins boat on Omaha Beach during the Normandy Invasion. The tape will be released in late summer 2003."

As part of his Protocol duties, Gale has represented the State at several deployment ceremonies for Nebraska National Guardsmen leaving for Bosnia or Iraq.  Adjutant General Lempke has asked Gale to accompany him on a trip to Bosnia this month to visit with the Nebraska troops there with Task Force-Husker.  Gale said "I hope to learn as much as I can about the hope for democracy, stability, and civility there.  I will also extend greetings to them from all Nebraskans!"

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