Secretary of State

Memorial Hall, 1st Floor
120 SW 10th Avenue
Topeka, KS 66612-1594
(785) 296-4564


For Immediate Release
Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Contact Information
Jesse Borjon, Communications Director
Office of the Secretary of State
(785) 296-4580

Top State Election Officials Announce Bob Dole as Recipient of 2003 Margaret Chase Smith American Democracy Award
Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh Nominates Former U.S. Senator from Kansas for National Honor

PORTLAND, ME---The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), hosting its annual summer meeting in Maine, announced today that former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas is the association's recipient of the 2003 Margaret Chase Smith American Democracy Award. The award is presented annually to an individual whose actions best demonstrate the qualities of political courage personified by Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith, who jeopardized her career by criticizing the “red baiting” tactics of Senator Joseph P. McCarthy in the 1950's.

"I am pleased to hear that Senator Dole will receive the credit that he is due for his contributions to this country," said Kansas Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh, who nominated Dole for the award. "I am particularly proud that he is going to be recognized for his advocacy work on behalf of Americans with disabilities, particularly his leadership in developing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. This landmark legislation protects the rights of more than 57 million Americans with physical and mental disabilities. It is also the legislation that created a cornerstone for the new federal election reform bill, the Help America Vote Act, which will enable election administrators around the country to offer unprecedented access to disabled voters on Election Day 2004."

Throughout his distinguished 35-year career in the U.S. Senate, Bob Dole developed a reputation for speaking out for what he believed to be right. He called the Americans with Disabilities Act "a good example of bipartisanship in action" and said that is was unacceptable to bestow "second class citizenship" upon those with disabilities. He fought for the bill despite widespread opposition against it, particularly from a business community fearful of being driven into bankruptcy by the law's new requirements.
"In addition to his outspoken support for ADA, Senator Dole's personal experience of dealing with his own health concerns and overcoming those obstacles is both inspiring and compelling," said NASS Executive Director Leslie Reynolds. According to Reynolds, Dole is the second Kansan to be recognized by the association. Former Senator Nancy Kassebaum received the award in 2000.

The National Association of Secretaries of State will formally present Dole with the Margaret Chase Smith Award at the association's winter meeting in Washington, DC, on February 13-16, 2004.