Candidates do not have a right to see who’s applied for absentee ballots before the election, a federal judge in Covington ruled this week. Republican Kentucky Senate candidate Deb Sheldon sued the county clerks of Campbell and Bracken counties, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and Attorney General Jack Conway, challenging a state law passed in 2013 that shields the names and addresses of those who applied for absentee ballots until after the election. Sheldon is running against two other Republicans for the open Senate seat in Campbell, Pendleton and Bracken counties. She sought a list of those who filed for absentee ballots and argued that keeping the names private violated her First Amendment rights.
Federal Judge David Bunning disagreed and this week denied a temporary injunction sought by Sheldon that would have released the list of absentee voters.
“The First Amendment has never been read as requiring the government to disclose information in its possession simply because doing so would make speech and association easier or more effective,” Bunning wrote in his order denying the injunction.
Sheldon has not decided whether she will appeal, said her attorney, Steve Megerle. By not giving out the addresses of absentee voters, Sheldon can’t mail political fliers and other communication to military personnel and anyone who might not be at their home address during the election season, Megerle said.