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Secretary of state is an official in the state governments of 47 of the 50 states of the United States (none in Alaska, Hawaii and Utah). In Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Virginia, this official is called the secretary of the commonwealth. In states that have one, the secretary of state is the chief clerk of the state and is often the primary custodian of important state records. The voters directly elect the secretary of state in 35 states. In the other 12, the secretary is appointed by either the governor or the state legislature.
The duties of the position are generally administrative in nature, and no two states have identical responsibilities delegated to the secretary of state. Arguably, the most common and most important function held by secretaries of state is to serve as the state's chief elections official. In the vast majority of states, ultimate responsibility for the conduct of elections, including the enforcement of qualifying rules, oversight of finance regulation and establishment of Election Day procedures falls on the secretary of state.
When you start a business, whether a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation, the Secretary of State’s office, sometimes called the Department of State, registers and authenticates business entities and trademarks. These state offices process, file, and maintain records related to business entities.
New businesses can check business name availability and reserve a business name through the Secretary of State’s office. Many states offer online tools to conduct a business search. Users can often search by name, registered agent, owner name, or other criteria to view documents filed with the department.