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Georgia Political Papers and Oral History Program

The Georgia Political Papers and Oral History Program is comprised of over 3,000 linear feet of archival collections, along with an extensive number of oral history interviews, that document the unique political culture of the state of Georgia.

Lera Catharine " Cathy" Cox

Lera Catharine " Cathy" Cox was born in 1958 in Bainbridge, Georgia, serving as Georgia's first female Secretary of State 1999-2002. The Democrat initiated a universal electronic voting system in Georgia and moved many of the Secretary of State functions to Macon during her tenure. In 2002, she was re-elected, then lost the primary run for governor in 2006. Currently, Cox is president of Young Harris College in north Georgia.; Interviewed by Dr. Mel Steely on December 14, 2006 at an unknown location.; Cox begins by describing her youth in Bainbridge, Georgia; her father, Walter, had been a funeral director, her mother, Mary, an artist. She recalls her father's involvement in politics when she was a child; he had been mayor of Bainbridge and subsequently elected to eight terms of the Georgia legislature. She speaks of her religious beliefs, her involvement in the YMCA and the student legislature of her high school. She got her initial two-year degree in horticulture from the Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, and then shifted her focus onto journalism, which she pursued at the University of Georgia. She speaks briefly of Marvin Griffin and the newspaper that his family had started, the Bainbridge Post-Searchlight, and gives her opinion of Griffin. Cox speaks of her time at the University of Georgia, working in the journalism field, and her decision to attend law school. She acquired her law degree from Mercer and subsequently gained a position with a law firm, Hansell & Post, in Bainbridge, GA. She speaks of her father's passing and her eventual turn to politics. She speaks of her early campaigning as well as her time in the Georgia legislature in the early 1990s, the politicians she interacted with and the committee appointments she had while there. She speaks briefly about Tom Murphy, his ability to handle legislation and her own experiences with several particular issues that arose during her time in the legislation, such as the Georgia state flag, gay marriage, child-support, and wolf dog breeding. She then speaks of her time as Assistant Secretary of State under Lewis A. Massey and the circumstances that led to her running for the seat of the Secretary of the State in 1999. She goes into the particulars of working for the office of the Secretary of State, noting how technology has changed the relevance of the physical location of a government office, and speaks specifically of her campaigns. She notes women and African American communities in relation to their affect on her campaigns, then speaking at length about the reception of women in politics and the progress that women have made over the years. She then speaks of the voting issues that arose in 2000, the different types of voting processes and ultimately implementing a statewide electronic voting system, addressing conspiracies or tampering with security protocols of voting machines. She returns once again to the issue of gender in politics and speaks of the expectations that people had of her in relation to her campaigning tactics. Cox worked under three Georgia governors, Miller, Barnes and Perdue - she assesses each of them and describes her relationship with each and describing the motivations that drove her to run for governor against Perdue.