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Multi-faceted election modifications moving on to the Ky. Senate

Kentucky County Clerk Representatives Testify Before the Senate State and Local Government Committee 03-13-23
Stu Johnson
Kentucky County Clerk Representatives Testify Before the Senate State and Local Government Committee 03-13-23

An election reform bill continues to move through the Kentucky legislature. Proponents describe the measure as modifications to election law. A change endorsed by the Senate committee calls for the Secretary of State to have the final say on local election plans. Senate State and Local Government Committee Member Damon Thayer is a strong supporter of that change.

“To be honest there are a lot of legislators who would just as soon blow up the whole voting center model and go back to the precincts. That’s a real thing. And that bill was suggested. And then there are some people who want to leave it exactly as it is,” said Thayer.

Thayer said the current structure allows for the unelected State Board of Elections Executive Director too much authority in approving local plans.

Kentucky County Clerks Association Vice-President Tabatha Clemons testified that clerks would prefer to keep the State Board of Elections in charge of signing off on local election plans. She said that puts more eyes on the plans.

“Clerks just have reservations about the process of one person approving all 120 county Board of Election plans. We would definitely like to see the State Board of Elections, who’s put in place as a bipartisan measure to oversee our elections,” said Clemons.

As far as voting centers, Clemons noted voters like having that option. She added her county just has voting centers, but others have a hybrid plan, and some just have precinct voting. County clerks are saying they support much of the election reform bill. Among other things, it calls for the attorney general to conduct election audits in all 120 counties, a prohibition of electioneers on all early voting days, not just the traditional election day, and language to better ensure adequate parking at voting locations.

The House-approved bill now goes to the full Senate.

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Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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