Pennsylvania Secretary of State

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Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
2012-2013 FY Budget:  $9,109,000
Term limits:  None
Authority:  Pennsylvania Constitution, Article VI, Section 1
Selection Method:  Appointed by Governor
Current Officeholder

Pedro Cortés.jpg
Name:  Pedro A. Cortés
Officeholder Party:  Democratic
Assumed office:  January 20, 2015
Compensation:  $135,228
Other Pennsylvania Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorSuperintendent of EducationAgriculture CommissionerInsurance CommissionerNatural Resources CommissionerLabor CommissionerPublic Service Commission
The Secretary of State for Pennsylvania, more commonly known as the Secretary of the Commonwealth, is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate. The secretary serves as Pennsylvania's chief election official, and is the keeper of the Great Seal of the Commonwealth.

Current officeholder

The current officeholder is Pedro A. Cortés. He was nominated to the position by Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Wolf in January of 2015.[1]


Article VI, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides for the creation of additional state offices not otherwise established by the constitution:

All officers, whose selection is not provided for in this Constitution, shall be elected or appointed as may be directed by law.


There are no specific qualifications for this office.


The Office of Secretary of State is a position that is filled via appointment by the governor with the consent of the state legislature.

Term limits

There are no term limits imposed on the secretary of the commonwealth.


In the event of a vacancy, the governor nominates a successor who must be confirmed by the Pennsylvania state senate before assuming office.


The department protects the public's health, safety and welfare by licensing more than one million business, health and real estate professionals; maintaining registration and financial information for thousands of charities soliciting contributions from Pennsylvanians; overseeing Pennsylvania's electoral process; maintaining corporate filings; and sanctioning professional boxing, kick-boxing and wrestling in the Commonwealth. The secretary is the keeper of the Great Seal of the Commonwealth and has the duty of authenticating government documents through the seal's use. The secretary is also the Commonwealth's Chief Election Official.

By statute, the secretary is a member of the following boards and commissions:

  • Chairman of the Pennsylvania Election Reform Task Force
  • Chairman of the Navigation Commission for the Delaware River and its Navigable Tributaries
  • The Board of Finance and Revenue
  • The Board of Property
  • The Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement Board
  • The State Athletic Commission
  • The Interbranch Commission for Gender, Racial and Ethnic Fairness
  • The Lobbying Disclosure Regulations Committee
Click here to view larger-scale image of the Pennsylvania SOS Organizational Chart as of June 21, 2012.


The Department of State consists of five bureaus:

Bureau of Charitable Organizations

The Bureau of Charitable Organizations maintains registration and financial records for more than 11,000 charities currently soliciting in Pennsylvania and 400 professional solicitors and fundraising counsels. The bureau is also responsible for administering the state charitable solicitation law.[2]

Bureau of Commissions, Elections, and Legislation

The Bureau of Commissions, Elections, and Legislation is responsible for the electoral process of the commonwealth, including campaign finance, voter registration, and lobbying disclosure. The office also regulates notaries public.

Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs

The Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs "provides administrative and legal support to 29 professional and occupational licensing boards and commissions," ranging from "physicians and cosmetologists to accountants and funeral directors."[3]

Corporation Bureau

The Corporation Bureau maintains records for the more than 2.6 million companies that conduct business in the commonwealth. It is also the central filing office for Uniform Commercial Code statements.

State Athletic Commission

The State Athletic Commission licenses over 900 professional boxers, mixed martial artists, kickboxers, and wrestlers. The commission also regulates events for these sports.

State budget

See also: Pennsylvania state budget and finances

The budget for the Department of State in Fiscal Year 2012-2013 was $9,109,000.[4]


See also: Compensation of state executive officers

The secretary of state's salary is set by statute and subject to cost-of-living adjustments, also known as COLAs, pursuant to Section 3(e) of the Public Official Compensation Law (amended in 1995). This law mandates that Pennsylvania executives' salaries "shall be increased by applying the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland area for the most recent 12-month period for which figures have been officially reported by the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) immediately prior to the date adjustment is due to take effect."[5]

Under this law, the appropriate salaries were last increased by 1.6 percent, effective January 1, 2015.[6]


In 2014, the secretary received a salary of $135,228, according to the Council of State Governments.[7]


In 2013, the secretary received a salary of $134,824, according to the Council of State Governments.[8]


In 2012, the secretary received a salary of $131,992, according to the Council of State Governments.


In 2010, the secretary received a salary of $125,939, according to the Sunshine Review.[9]

Historical officeholders

Note: Ballotpedia's state executive officials project researches state official websites for chronological lists of historical officeholders. That information for the Pennsylvania Secretary of State has not yet been added because the information was unavailable on the relevant state official websites, or we are currently in the process of formatting the list for this office. If you have any additional information about this office for inclusion on this section and/or page, please email us.

Recent news

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Pennsylvania Secretary of State - Google News Feed

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Contact information


Capitol Address:
302 North Office Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120

Phone: (717) 787-6458
Fax: (717) 787-1734
E-mail: Webmaster

See also

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External links

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Portions of this article were adapted from Wikipedia.