The special election spurred by U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis’ resignation in July has left questions for election officials about how the ballots will be handled. Gov. Steve Beshear has set the special election to fill the vancancy for Geoff Davis’ Fourth Congressional District seat on the same day as the general election on Nov. 6. Some, however, fear the two elections–one for the general election and the other special election to fill out the final months of Davis’ term that expires at the end of the year–will cause confusion. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and county clerks await on a Franklin Circuit Court judge’s decision on how to proceed with absentee ballots. Grimes filed suit to move the Oct. 9 deadline for candidates to file for the special election up to Sept. 10, when the state certifies the names on the general election ballot. Grimes has said it must send out ballots 45 days prior to an election for people overseas, such as the military, to have time to fill out and send back the ballots. An Oct. 9 deadline only leaves 28 days.
“We’re dealing with the rights of military voters,” said Lynn Sowards Zellen, spokeswoman for the Kentucky Secretary of State. “It is the secretary’s belief that it is not conscionable to exclude them from the Democratic process when they’re risking life and limb to protect it.” County clerks and election officials say they would have to send out two absentee ballots, one for the general and one for the special election, if they can’t certify the names on both ballots on the same day. Boone County last presidential election mailed out 1,252 absentee ballots.
“It’s not the cost so much as it’s the confusion on the biggest election we have,” said Boone County Clerk Kenny Brown. If the special election ballots can’t be completed until Oct. 9, that would reduce the amount of time for early in-person absentee voting in Boone County from six weeks to three weeks, officials said. Boone County election officials expect 4,000 people to vote absentee in person.