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.
Articles about voting issues in Kentucky.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
The recently fired assistant to the director of the State Board of Elections alleged in a letter to some members of the board that the office of Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes improperly gathered voter information from the state’s voter registration system during campaigns. In the letter, Matthew Selph, who was fired by the Board of Elections on Tuesday along with director Maryellen Allen, recalled a conversation with a staffer in the Secretary of State’s Office who said he was directed by the office to gather information “probably 3 or 4 times. . . every time they were running.” He did not specify what information was gathered. Selph has reported the conversation to the Executive Branch Ethics Commission. “Data that is released is documented, recorded and tracked through every step of the system to ensure that everything was done properly,” Selph, a Republican, wrote. “When the data was taken out of this building on a thumb drive, that trust was broken. We have no way to know what was on it, where it went or what it was used for.”
The State Board of Elections fired its executive director and assistant to the director on Tuesday. The board did not explain why Executive Director Maryellen Allen, a Democrat, and Assistant to the Director Matthew Selph, a Republican, were dismissed. “This was a bipartisan decision of the state board of elections, both non-merit employees, that their services were no longer needed,” said Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who serves as the chairwoman of the board. When pressed for the reason, Grimes just repeated her earlier statement. “Their services were no longer needed,” she said. Both Allen and Selph said they were not given a reason they were fired, but Selph said he felt it was because he raised questions about the operation of the board.