How much do you know about secretaries of state?

First things first: We’re not talking about Secretary of State John Kerry, the Cabinet official who travels the world on America’s diplomatic missions. Same title, very different job.

The secretaries we’re talking about are at the U.S. state level. Their duties vary, but most share one very important duty: They are the chief election officials, responsible for the conduct of their states’ elections, from who qualifies to be on the ballot to how election results are certified.

Pedro Cortés speaking at lectern (© AP Images)
“Our voting systems are secure,” Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Pedro Cortés tells voters. (© AP Images)

As Americans prepare to vote November 8, the secretaries of state are stepping forward to assure voters that each and every vote will be properly counted.

At events in states across the country and through social media (check out #ReadyToVote), the secretaries of states are making an all-out push to make sure voters know the election systems are secure and accessible and will produce fair elections.

“The way you vote is absolutely the way that the machines tabulate the count at the end of the night,” Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan said in a radio interview.

Louisiana’s Tom Schedler described the secretary’s job still more succinctly: “It is my job to make voting easy and cheating hard.”

The secretaries of states also are making sure voters know where to find information about registration deadlines, polling hours and other resources for Election Day.

Secretaries of state also are busy encouraging citizens to vote.

Alex Padilla, secretary of state for California, held a voter registration drive outside the state’s capitol building on the day of registration deadline. “Do you think if a million more young people registered and voted that politics would be different?” Padilla asked a student audience at Sacramento State University.

Secretaries of state in Tennessee and Rhode Island are going after a younger crowd. They will participate in mock elections at secondary schools throughout their states, giving students an early experience in choosing their representatives. “Our hope,” said Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, “is their interest in voting continues as they become young adults.

Want to know more about U.S. elections? Here’s where you can learn about the process from start to finish, including the peaceful transition of power to the next president.

Graphic reading "Elections 2016" (State Dept./J. Maruszewski)