A top Republican lawmaker is proposing legislation that would strip embattled Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes of her authority over the Kentucky State Board of Elections. Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, said he will introduce a committee substitute Wednesday to Senate Bill 34 that would make the secretary of state a symbolic, non-voting member of the elections board, stripping her of any day-to-day authority over the group. It also would block Grimes and others in her office from accessing to the state’s voter registration database.Full Article: Bill would strip Grimes’ power over Kentucky elections board | Lexington Herald Leader.
Articles about voting issues in Kentucky.
In the months after the 2016 elections, state election administrators spent millions of dollars investigating and addressing the cyber intrusions that had penetrated voting systems in dozens of states. Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes emerged as one of the loudest voices calling for improvements. In February 2017, at an elections conference dominated by talk of cybersecurity, Grimes claimed to have found the perfect answer to the threat: A small company called CyberScout, which she said would comb through Kentucky’s voting systems, identify its vulnerabilities to hacking and propose solutions. Three days later, Assistant Secretary of State Lindsay Hughes Thurston submitted paperwork to give the company a no-bid two-year contract with the State Board of Elections, or SBE, for $150,000 a year. She did not inform the SBE — the agency that oversees the state’s voting systems — that she was doing so.Full Article: The Curious Case of a Kentucky Cybersecurity Contract — ProPublica.
Fayette County’ Clerk Don Blevins Jr. told the Lexington council Tuesday he will request up to $2 million in coming months to replace decade-old voting machines that were partly to blame for long lines at precincts in November. “Our machines stink,” said Blevins, who oversees elections in Fayette County. “It’s time. We need to replace these machines.” Lexington has about 1,000 Hart eSlate machines, which use a wheel that voters turn to highlight their choice on the ballot. Voters then push a button to make the highlighted choice. Most precincts only have a couple machines, which creates long lines when the ballot is lengthy. The machines can be attached to another machine that prints the completed paper ballot, but Lexington does not use those. That means there is no printed record of an individual’s vote.Full Article: Blevins seeking millions for new voting machines in Lexington | Lexington Herald Leader.
Kentucky has some of the nation’s highest rates of residents who can’t vote because of felony convictions — but a recent federal lawsuit is seeking to change that. The same national civil rights group that got a judge to declare Florida’s practices for restoring voting rights unconstitutional is targeting Kentucky’s restoration procedures. The suit, initially filed last year in U.S. District Court in Louisville by a single felon, was joined last week by the Fair Elections Center and the Kentucky Equal Justice Center. It was amended to add three more plaintiffs who argue Kentucky’s procedures for restoring voting rights are arbitrary and unconstitutional.Full Article: Federal lawsuit fights Kentucky's felon voter ban.
Kentucky is one of two states that permanently ban people with felony convictions from voting. It’s enshrined in the state constitution. The only way to restore voting rights is to appeal to the governor. Sen. Morgan McGarvey, a Democrat from Louisville, said he will propose a constitutional amendment to allow voting rights to be restored to some people who have completed their felony sentences. “When the constitution was written in Kentucky a lot of these crimes weren’t even felonies. We’ve made them that since then. So it’s not like the constitution intended to deprive people of their voice and their own community for the rest of their lives for a simple mistake,” McGarvey said. McGarvey said the legislation, which hasn’t been finalized yet, will likely still ban people who have committed voter fraud or crimes that involve violence or sexual assault.Full Article: Ky. Lawmakers To Consider Restoring Voting Rights To People With Felonies | WVXU.
Kentucky: Bill to restore voting rights of Kentucky felons expected to be pre-filed this week | WDRB
On the heels of Florida voters deciding to reinstate voting rights to felons that have served their sentences, Kentucky could soon face a similar debate with new legislation expected to be filed this week. Democratic Sen. Morgan McGarvey, of Louisville, expects to pre-file a bill that would restore voting rights to convicted felons once their sentence, including probation and parole, is complete. “When they have a job and they’re living and working in our community, they need a voice in that community,” McGarvey said. “That voice comes at the ballot box.” With the passage of Florida’s bill, Kentucky and Iowa became the only states in the country that do not restore voting rights in some manner at the completion of a sentence. In Kentucky, felons can only have the right restored via an executive pardon from Governor Matt Bevin.Full Article: Bill to restore voting rights of Kentucky felons expected to be - WDRB 41 Louisville News.
Kentucky: Locked out: Critics say it’s time to end Kentucky’s ban on felon voting | Louisville Courier Journal
Last week’s election held personal stakes for Sara Lee. A Louisville mother of four planning to finish a master’s degree after battling addiction, Lee wanted to vote for candidates who could improve health care, education funding and women’s rights. But Lee’s 2013 felony drug conviction — for which she completed seven months in jail — meant the 37-year-old couldn’t cast a ballot. It left her watching on the sidelines. “I feel like I don’t have a voice,” she said. Kentucky has long had some of the nation’s highest rates of felony disenfranchisement — taking away voting rights because of a crime conviction. Nearly one in 10 residents — and a nation-topping one in four African-Americans — are barred from voting for life because of felony convictions, according to the Washington D.C.-based Sentencing Project.Full Article: Voting rights: Kentucky among last to permanently ban felons.
Kentucky: ‘I can’t stand these machines.’ Record turnout wasn’t why you waited in line to vote | Lexington Herald Leader
Long lines and long waits to vote in Fayette County on Tuesday led many to expect record turnout in the midterm election. But, in the end, turnout was only at 52 percent in Lexington. Higher than usual, but not a record. So the blame turned back to Fayette County’s electronic voting machines, which take a long time to use, especially with a long and complicated ballot. That means some people who didn’t have an hour or more to wait in line may have left before voting. “I certainly heard my fair share of people saying the line was too long and they had to leave,” said Debra Hensley, a former Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council member. “A person who cannot vote is an error on our part.” It’s a complaint that County Clerk Don Blevins Jr., the county’s chief elections officer, has heard before. And he agrees. “I can’t stand these machines,” Blevins said Wednesday. “They’re awkward to use, older citizens really struggle with the wheel, the user interface is just about as bad as it could be.”Full Article: Electronic voting machines created long waits in Lexington, KY | Lexington Herald Leader.
Heralded as the state voting system’s “most transformational reform to date,” the ability for Kentuckians to register to vote online also made them vulnerable to attack. A ProPublica investigation found that as recently as this week, a computer server powering Kentucky’s voter registration website was inadvertently exposing sensitive back-end files to hackers. Kentucky introduced online voter registration in 2016. At the time, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said the move would pave the way for increased participation in elections. … “FTP is a 40-year-old protocol that is insecure and not being retired quickly enough,” said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, the chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington, D.C., and an advocate for better voting security. “Every communication sent via FTP is not secure, meaning anyone in the hotel, airport or coffee shop on the same public Wi-Fi network that you are on can see everything sent and received. “And malicious attackers can change the contents of a transmission without either side detecting the change.”Full Article: Kentucky's online voter registration left system vulnerable to attack | National News | messenger-inquirer.com.
It’s 49 days until Election Day and the Kentucky State Board of Elections is mired in chaos. At issue is a power struggle between the staff of the State Board of Elections and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes over control of Kentucky’s election system. Grimes, a Democrat, argues that her role as chairwoman of the board of elections requires her staff to have access to Kentucky’s voter registration database and oversight of the day-to-day operations of the State Board of Elections. Jared Dearing, executive director of the State Board of Elections, filed a complaint last month with the board, the executive branch ethics commission and the state personnel board, alleging Grimes had overstepped her authority by eliminating the independence of the board’s staff, asking her staffers to access the voter database, and creating a hostile work environment.Full Article: Why is the Kentucky State Board of Elections in chaos? | Lexington Herald Leader.
Kentucky: State wants to replace voting machines. Some counties aren’t sure why | Louisville Courier Journal
In November, Kentuckians in 22 counties will cast their votes on electronic voting machines that were broken into in less than two days at the annual DEFCON hackers conference last year. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said the state Board of Elections is coordinating with county officials to build hacker-proof voting systems, making use of nearly $6 million it received from Washington D.C. in March when Congress authorized a $380 million state grant program for election security following concerns about election fraud in the 2016 election. The Kentucky Board of Elections set aside the majority of that money — $4.6 million — to upgrade electronic voting machines across Kentucky to paper-trail machines, which experts say are less susceptible to hacking and can be audited to detect fraud. Grimes said she hopes to have the updated equipment in place in time for the 2020 election.Full Article: Kentucky wants to replace its voting machines.
Kentucky: Department of Justice Announces Settlement with Kentucky Ensuring Compliance with Voter Registration List Maintenance Requirements | Imperial Valley News
The Department of Justice Thursday announced that it recently entered into a settlement with the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the Kentucky State Board of Elections, and the Kentucky Secretary of State, resolving the Department’s claims that Kentucky was not complying with the voter registration list maintenance procedures set forth in Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). Under the terms of the settlement, Kentucky will develop and implement a general program of statewide voter list maintenance that makes a reasonable effort to remove the names of registrants who have become ineligible due to a change in residence in accordance with Section 8 of the NVRA and state law.Full Article: United States Announces Settlement with Kentucky Ensuring Compliance with Voter Registration List Maintenance Requirements.
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says state election systems remain secure, but the top election official warns it’s a never-ending battle against new and emerging threats. “No evidence exists to suggest that these bad actors altered any votes in any way,” Grimes reassured Kentucky voters Thursday, before holding up a copy of indictments in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The secretary spoke with reporters following a meeting with Kentucky’s Election Integrity Task Force – made up of representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the state attorney general’s office, and other law enforcement officials – a month ahead of the May primary.Full Article: Grimes Says Election Threats Warrant New Security | WUKY.
Kentucky’s front-line elections officials received cybersecurity training Thursday in another preventive step against hacking, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said. County clerks statewide attended training by the federal Department of Homeland Security on preventing and detecting cyberattacks, Grimes said. The session comes a few weeks before the state’s May 22 primary election. Kentuckians will have a long ballot this year with races for county positions, the legislature and Congress.Full Article: Kentucky Election Officials Given Cybersecurity Training | Kentucky News | US News.
Kentucky: Eighth State Quietly Quit Free Anti-Voter-Fraud Program Over Security Concerns and ‘Unreliable’ Results | Gizmodo
The State of Kentucky has pulled out of the Interstate Crosscheck System, Gizmodo has learned, making it the eighth state to quit the program so far—even though it cost nothing to participate. A source with direct knowledge of the decision told Gizmodo that Kentucky never used the data that it received from Crosscheck for the purpose of purging voter rolls because the data was “unreliable.” Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Grimes also expressed concern about the security of the program, the source said. Kentucky officially quit Crosscheck in June but made no official announcement at the time. A tweet by Grimes last week about Kentucky not submitting voter data to Crosscheck initially puzzled activists who were unaware of the state’s decision.Full Article: Eighth State Quietly Quit Free Anti-Voter-Fraud Program Over Security Concerns and 'Unreliable' Results.
A proposed constitutional amendment to move elections of Kentucky officials to even-number years cleared a Senate committee on Wednesday. SB 4, sponsored by Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, would take effect, if approved, following the 2019 elections for Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Auditor, Treasurer and Agriculture Commissioner, giving each of them a one-time, five-year term until the 2024 general election.Full Article: Amendment to move elections of KY officials clears first hurdle | Kentucky Today.
Paper ballots could be in the future for Greene County residents, should the county not have the money to afford new, electronic equipment. It was a matter members of the Greene County Election Commission had to consider when listening to a sales pitch made by HARP Enterprises/HART Intercivic election equipment during their regular monthly meeting Tuesday. HART manufactures election equipment while HARP is the service provider once a sale is completed. The election commission is exploring the possibility of replacing the county’s voting machines. New voting equipment was last purchased in 2006. Commissioners heard from the company MicroVote last month.Full Article: Election Commission Weighs Paper Ballots | Local News | greenevillesun.com.
The next time voters in Jefferson County go to the polls, they’ll use a pen to cast their ballot, the first indication of Louisville’s new voting system. The Jefferson County Clerk’s office spent more than $3 million this year on 700 new machines. “This is about voter integrity,” said James Young, co-director of the Jefferson County Election Center. “It’s about ensuring the best technology is available for the voters.” The County Clerk’s office plans to roll out the new machines at every polling location in Louisville, completely eliminating its old fleet. “Our neighboring state, Virginia, just de-certified equipment we had in this county for nearly 20 years,” Young said. Writing in pen instead of pencil is new, along with the machines those ballots will be counted on, but Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw is was quick to point out that there will still be paper ballots. “There will always be a paper trail,” she said.Full Article: 700 new voting machines will change how Louisville ballots are c - WDRB 41 Louisville News.
Senator Reginald Thomas of Lexington has pre-filed legislation that, if approved in the 2018 Regular Session, would allow in-person early voting three Saturdays preceding any primary, general, or special election. Bill Request 49 (BR 49) would allow qualified Kentucky voters in their county of residence to cast their ballot in-person any time between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., three Saturdays prior to the election date. Under this legislation, county clerks will designate a location within his or her office where the early voting ballots shall be cast privately and secretly.Full Article: Sen. Reggie Thomas Pre-Files Bill To Bring Early Voting To Kentu - LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather.
Calling the claims against her “politically motivated and spurious,” Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes denied that she ever improperly obtained voter data or that she took inappropriate action in a contract with a state vendor. “Candidates for office in Kentucky have a number of available alternatives to obtain voter data, including purchasing it from the State Board of Elections or receiving it from political parties,” Bradford Queen, Grimes’ communications director, said in written statement Thursday. “As a result, in her capacity as a candidate, Secretary Grimes would have no reason to obtain voter data by other means.”Full Article: Grimes denies allegations of gathering improper voter data | Lexington Herald Leader.