This umpire doesn't wear a red or blue hat.This week I saw a unique presentation or panel discussion hosted at the Des Moines Public Library by Brad Anderson, our Democratic party candidate for Secretary of State. Brad’s two guests were the current secretaries of state for Minnesota, Mark Ritchie, and Missouri, Jason Kander.

These two accepted Brad’s invitation for this short panel discussion not because of party affiliation, but rather quite the opposite: they both emphasized how the office of secretary of state is uniquely non-partisan and impartial. It hadn’t occurred to me before Mr. Kander used a sports analogy to illustrate the simple concept that when he goes to the Royals baseball game later that evening, that umpire behind home plate needs to be completely impartial. If he pulls off the mask in-between innings and we see him sporting an Orioles or, gasp, perhaps even a Cardinals hat — that’s going to raise a few eyebrows and should be a major cause for concern. As a football official myself, I can’t advocate booing an official of any sport, but if found in such a situation we should all get angry, make wild gestures and perhaps call the league commissioner, whatever it takes to remove such umpires from the game.

The reality of our situation is a simple vote can ensure we get fair representation. Forget about voting a straight party ticket, but understand what really differentiates these candidates.

The question I posed to the moderator was, “Do any of you have evidence that indicates if unrestricted vote-by-mail favors one party over another?” Across the board their answers were, “No, we can’t accurately track that and it seems that both parties are encouraging more of this.” This underscores that an approach which Brad Anderson espouses, removing as many of the barriers to voting as possible. We saw how both Missouri and Minnesota use online voter registration forms and also enable safe at home provisions to make sure people who need anonymity (certain crime victims or prosecutors) can still vote without it being public record. Such innovations are impossible if you’re distracted by phantom voter fraud investigations or adding restrictions which our counties can’t afford to implement.

Brad Anderson is emphatic that people deserve elections that are easy to access and hard to manipulate. That should make sense to republicans and democrats alike. Let’s make sure that we put a man behind the plate who is impartial and won’t play politics in that role.