A measure which would change the way military service personnel receive absentee ballots and cast their votes remains in limbo, a Scott County lawmaker said Wednesday. Among the high-profile proposals before Kentucky legislators during this year’s General Assembly was a bill backed by Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes, which would facilitate electronic ballot requests and submissions. Differing versions of the bill passed both the House and Senate, and a conference committee made up of members of each chamber has been picked to hammer out a compromise. … The chambers are at odds over whether or not service personnel can return ballots electronically or must still mail in hard copies. The Senate struck the provision for electronic voting from its bill due to concerns over cyber security. Senate President Larry Stivers, R-Manchester, stressed those concerns while presenting the bill for a vote earlier in the session. “If my bank account is hacked, I can see that,” he told fellow lawmakers. “If a ballot is tampered with, who would ever know?”
Ensuring ballots are secure and remain secret is a challenge Quarles said the state may not yet be ready to handle. “We’ve seen even in recent days with people’s supposedly secure files being hacked, the issue of electronic security is a grave issue,” he said. “The main issue is maintaining the integrity of the ballot.”
Both bills pave the way for service personnel to request and receive the ballots electronically, with the goal of modernizing and speeding up the voting process for those serving overseas. But the challenges accessing a printer and mail service in combat situations make returning paper ballots challenging, some lawmakers say.
But as long as the security of email is uncertain, Quarles said lawmakers are better off being cautious. “Voting is a precious right that needs to be protected,” he said.
He also stressed that lawmakers should listen to the concerns voiced by the state’s county clerks. “With, I think at last count, 100 of 120 county clerks coming out against this, we need to be mindful of that,” he said.