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Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch Discusses Records Management, E-Voting

McCulloch aims to increase voter participation and growing Montana businesses.

by / March 15, 2010

In 2008, Linda McCulloch became the first woman elected secretary of state in Montana. McCulloch ran on a platform of increasing voter participation and partnering with state businesses to help them grow. Prior to taking office, she served eight years as the state superintendent of public instruction and in the Montana House of Representatives. She is overseeing a bar-coding project for the 40,000 boxes of documentation the state stores.

What are your policies for records management in Montana?
Records management is one of those things most people don't think of very often and don't think is very exciting. But I'm also a school librarian, and librarians were the first records managers. We use the national standard, which always surprises folks because people think it must be flash drives, discs or something digital - when in fact, it's microfiche. We need to keep them on a medium that will be workable 100 years from now, and that's microfiche.

How do you respond to e-discovery requests using microfiche?
Although we have all these records on microfiche, we keep the storage information digitally so we can find those things in a huge warehouse. It's kind of like going to the public library: To find books, you can use the Dewey Decimal System, but we also have digital numbers attached. E-discovery tells us where to find those records.

What is the Secretary of State Information Management System (SIMS)?
One of our tasks in the secretary of state's office is to license all businesses in Montana. Those records are kept on a 1978 mainframe. We worked with the governor and the Legislature to capture enough state money to start converting that data into something that's in the 21st century.

We have 23 software programs, and they're not Web-based so they don't talk to each other. It would be so much better for Montana businesses to do business with us on a Web-based system. So we're very excited about SIMS, and we're working with a company that created a similar system in New Hampshire.

What's your position on online voter registration and e-voting?
We're very excited about online voter registration. One barrier, more than anything, is it costs money to implement this system. We're working on this and hope to be able to present some ideas to the next Legislature, if not a full bill. We're also looking at the possibility of piloting it.


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Chad Vander Veen

Chad Vander Veen previously served as the editor of FutureStructure, and the associate editor of Government Technology and Public CIO magazines.

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