A Senate committee on Wednesday approved a constitutional amendment that would give the General Assembly the power to restore voting rights to convicted felons without the need for a gubernatorial pardon. Senate Bill 299 wouldn’t automatically restore voting rights like House Bill 70 would, but instead it would allow the legislature to do it by statute. It passed the Senate State and Local Government Committee on a 10-0 vote. Under the Kentucky Constitution, only the governor has the authority to restore voting rights. Proponents have argued that once someone serves their sentence, they should have rights restored in an effort to assimilate them back into the community.Full Article: Bill to restore felon voting rights advances.
Articles about voting issues in Kentucky.
Kentuckians can now register to vote online. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes touted the state’s new online registration system, GoVoteKy.com, Monday at a news conference in the Capitol Rotunda. Grimes, the state’s chief election official, said Kentucky voters also can use the system to change their existing registration information, such as political party affiliation. Before, Kentuckians had to register to vote or change voting information by mail or in person using voter registration cards. The new system will be more convenient, said Grimes, noting that 30 states already have online registration. The system was activated March 1. “Already, a 93-year-old went online to update her registration,” Grimes said.Full Article: Online voter registration comes to Kentucky | Lexington Herald-Leader.
Kentucky’s Secretary of State says lawmakers have a way to increase voter participation statewide. Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes spoke in Frankfort Monday in support of early voting legislation. Under a bill proposed by Secretary Grimes, Kentucky voters could cast early in-person ballots without an excuse. Currently, voters must have a qualifying reason to vote early. Grimes points to the success of no-excuse early voting in other states.Full Article: Kentucky Secretary of State Calls for No-Excuse Early Voting | WKU Public Radio.
Republican voters in Kentucky were more than displeased about the state party’s decision to move from a primary election to an early presidential caucus, saying the decision hasn’t been publicized enough and that some of their attempts to register to vote absentee have been bungled by the party. The party’s Facebook page is replete with people criticizing the party and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, who pushed for the change to facilitate his simultaneous runs for re-election and for president. “There are so many uninformed Republicans! The Republican Party of KY has done a poor job of informing its voters of this change! Timely mail should have been sent to clarify the changes,” wrote Jamie Michelle Amburgey, a Whitley County teacher.Full Article: Ky GOP caucus plagued by absentee voter woes.
If you experienced frustration at the polls on Super Tuesday, you weren’t alone. The excruciatingly long GOP ballot, busy voting booths and awful election machines combined with some bad weather all made for an annoying Election Day, which left voters wondering why we don’t have a better system in place. When I arrived at my local polling place I was stuck for about 20 minutes just looking for parking. Then when I finally got near the front door, I saw the line packed with people all waiting to cast their ballots. The wait was well over an hour. … Many of the voting machines that are being used in today’s election season are outdated and need to be replaced, which leads to the question of who will pay to update the voting machines. Is it a local responsibility or should the state pay for it? “Some jurisdictions seem to be saying we’re just going to wait until another catastrophe and then maybe Congress will pay for it,” Tammy Patrick, a senior adviser with the Bipartisan Policy Center, said in an interview with The Atlantic. “This is not a good plan.”Full Article: Election technology needs an update.
The General Assembly paused Thursday to honor former state senator and civil rights activist Georgia Davis Powers, whose body lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda. But the memorial service didn’t prevent the two chambers from passing a couple of bills that they’ve previously passed but failed to secure approval from the other chamber. The Democratic House passed House Bill 70 that would place a proposed constitutional amendment before voters that, if approved, would automatically restore the voting rights of ex-felons convicted of non-violent, non-sexual crimes after completion of their sentences. It was an issue which two years ago brought Powers to the Capitol where she urged lawmakers to pass the measure, then sponsored by Lexington attorney and state Rep. Jesse Crenshaw who has since retired from the General Assembly.Full Article: House passes felon voting restoration bill | News | dailyindependent.com.
An effort to automatically restore voting rights to nonviolent offenders who have served their time has, once again, sailed out of committee in the Kentucky House to an uncertain fate. The idea has cleared the full House every year since 2007, but has been repeatedly blocked in the Senate. The legislation would put a proposal on the ballot for a constitutional amendment, for Kentuckians to decide. Rep. Derrick Graham, a Democrat from Frankfort, is a cosponsor of House Bill 70. “These people have paid their debt to society,” says Graham. “We ought to provide them with hope; we ought to provide them with opportunity. We should be forgiving them.”Full Article: Once Again KY Lawmakers Consider Restoring Voting Rights / Public News Service.
A House panel took less than 10 minutes to approve unanimously, a bill that would allow those convicted of non-violent felonies to regain their rights to vote. Supporters have invoked the name of the first woman and first person of color to serve in the Kentucky Senate, who died Jan. 30 at the age of 92. “Georgia Powers, she said it best,” Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-Lexington) told the House Committee on Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs on Monday. “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude and right now, Kentucky is failing!”Full Article: Powers' spirit invoked in renewed effort to restore felons' voti - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports.
Matt Bevin, Kentucky’s new governor, has only been in office a couple of weeks, but he’s already managed to re-disenfranchise tens of thousands of his state’s residents with the stroke of a pen. He did it by reversing an executive order issued late last month by his predecessor, Steven Beshear, that made as many as 140,000 Kentuckians with a nonviolent felony conviction immediately eligible to register to vote. Kentucky is one of three states, including Florida and Iowa, to impose a lifetime voting ban on people convicted of felonies. (Individuals may still petition for a restoration of their rights, which the governor decides on a case-by-case basis — an arduous, “quasi-monarchical” process.) Mr. Bevin, a Tea Party Republican, said he supports restoring voting rights to those with criminal records, but that it is an issue that should be “addressed through the legislature and by the will of the people,” not the governor’s office.Full Article: Kentucky's New Governor Takes Back the Vote - The New York Times.
Kentucky: It’s too soon to tell if Kentucky GOP’s presidential caucus will be worth it | Lexington Herald-Leader
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to participate in the Republican Party of Kentucky’s presidential preference caucus March 5, and he’s hoping he never has to do it again. “I’m not a fan of caucuses and I hope this is the last one we have,” McConnell told the Herald-Leader. With nominating contests set to begin in earnest when Iowans go to their caucuses Feb. 3, anxiety and optimism abound in Kentucky as party leaders move forward with the unusual contests. The move away from a traditional primary was proposed and passed by party officials as a way to help U.S. Sen. Rand Paul get around a state law that prohibits candidates from appearing on the same ballot twice, but the idea also was sold as a way to grow the party and increase the state’s relevance in selecting a presidential nominee. Now, with eight candidates committed to participate in the contests, Republicans are uncertain but hopeful that the caucuses will achieve those goals. ‘It’s not going to be New Hampshire’Full Article: It’s too soon to tell if Kentucky GOP’s presidential caucus will be worth it | Lexington Herald-Leader.
Kentucky: New governor reverses executive order that restored voting rights for felons | The Washington Post
Kentucky’s new Republican governor has rescinded an executive order that restored voting rights to as many as 140,000 non-violent felons, surprising some observers who had watched him — and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — argue for a more lenient approach to the issue. “While I have been a vocal supporter of the restoration of rights,” Gov. Matt Bevin (R-Ky.) said in announcing the order, “it is an issue that must be addressed through the legislature and by the will of the people.” The November election, which Bevin won in an upset, did not really turn on felon voting rights. In Bevin’s view, outgoing Democratic governor Steve Beshear forced the issue, granting a mass restoration after eight years of following the usual, slow, individualized standard for voting rights.Full Article: Kentucky’s new governor reverses executive order that restored voting rights for felons - The Washington Post.
Governor Matt Bevin issued an executive order Tuesday suspending former governor Steve Beshear’s restoration of voting rights to non-violent felony offenders. “Today, I took action to uphold several commitments I made during my campaign so that we can implement real solutions that will help the people of Kentucky,” said Governor Bevin.
Weeks before he leaves office, the governor of Kentucky on Tuesday issued an executive order that immediately granted the right to vote to about 140,000 nonviolent felons who have completed their sentences. The order by Gov. Steven L. Beshear, a Democrat, was cheered by advocates for criminal justice reform and civil rights, who said it would place Kentucky’s policy more in line with others across the nation and was consistent with a trend toward easing voting restrictions on former inmates. Kentucky had been one of just three states imposing a lifetime voting ban on felons unless they received a special exemption from the governor. Florida and Iowa still carry the lifetime ban.Full Article: Kentucky Governor Restores Voting Rights to Thousands of Felons - The New York Times.
HeadIng into the final two weeks of his administration, Gov. Steve Beshear is scheduled to hold a press conference early Tuesday for an announcement on voting rights, an issue that has kept House Democrats and Senate Republicans at loggerheads for years. Officials did not provide details about the announcement, but lawmakers have long clashed over legislation that would restore voting rights to felons after they have completed their sentences.Full Article: Beshear calls news conference on voting rights.
Kentuckians will be able to register online in time to vote in next year’s presidential elections, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said Tuesday. Grimes, the state’s chief election official, also said online registration will allow Kentucky voters to change their information, such as political party affiliation, on their own computers. Now, Kentuckians may register to vote or change voting information by mail or in person using voter registration cards, which can be downloaded and printed, or can be picked up at local county clerks’ offices. The cards can be mailed or returned in person to the address listed on the form.Full Article: Alison Lundergan Grimes: Online voter registration coming to Ky. next year | Politics and Government | Kentucky.com.
Kentucky: GOP rule change allows Paul to run for Senate amid his White House bid | The Washington Post
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) avoided a major headache Saturday after the Kentucky Republican Party approved a rule change that will allow him to run for president while seeking reelection to his Senate seat. “I applaud the Republican Party of Kentucky on their decision to hold a caucus in the upcoming Republican presidential cycle,” Paul said in a statement. “The people of Kentucky deserve a voice as the GOP chooses their next nominee, and holding a caucus will ensure that Kentucky is relevant and participates early in the process.” State law in Kentucky bars a person from appearing on an election ballot as a candidate for two different offices. So if Kentucky Republicans were to choose their nominees for president and Senate in a primary election, Paul could not run for both. By approving a caucus to select a presidential nominee, the Republican Party has cleared the way for him.Full Article: Ky. GOP rule change allows Paul to run for Senate amid his White House bid - The Washington Post.
Rand Paul is giving new meaning to the term “buying an election.” Over the weekend, the Kentucky senator said he gave $250,000 to his state’s Republican Party for the explicit purpose of funding its presidential caucus in March. He promised to pony up another $200,000 in the fall, enough to cover the entire cost of the nominating event. Put another way: Paul is paying the party to hold an election in which he is running. He’s doing it neither to ensure a victory nor out of the simple goodness of his heart. No, Paul is making a rather blatant end-run around state law, and he’s compensating the Kentucky GOP for going along with him. The law forbids someone from appearing on the same ballot as a candidate for two different offices, and Paul, who is up for reelection next year, doesn’t want to give up his Senate seat to make his rather long-shot bid for the presidency.Full Article: Rand Paul Will Pay for Kentucky's GOP Election Himself - The Atlantic.
If a legislative committee signs off on a new regulation later this month, Kentuckians will soon be able to register to vote online. Twenty-one states allow voters to register online, which Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes has advocated for during her tenure. Kentucky already allows members of the military and overseas voters to register on the web. In a statement, Grimes said that program has been a “tremendous success,” and she hopes expanding online registration to all Kentuckians would lead to greater participation.Full Article: Online Voter Registration Could Be Coming to Kentucky | WKMS.
Kentucky: Legislative panel approves regulations allowing online voter registration | Lexington Herald-Leader
Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’ efforts to allow online voter registration in Kentucky kept moving through the legislative process Tuesday, though one lawmaker tried to derail it. State Sen. Ernie Harris, R-Crestwood, tried to get his colleagues on the legislature’s Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee to declare deficient a new state regulation allowing online voter registration. But his request died on a 4-3 vote on the regulation, proposed by the Kentucky State Board of Elections. The legislature’s State Government Committee will review the regulation at its next meeting in a few weeks. If that panel signs off on it, the regulation would take effect in several months.Full Article: Legislative panel approves regulations allowing online voter registration, expanding Kentucky's bear hunt | Politics and Government | Kentucky.com.
County Clerks offices around Kentucky will be busy Thursday morning as they re-tally the votes in not just one, but two Republican primary races. (In addition to recanvassing the 83-vote margin between gubernatorial hopefuls Matt Bevin and James Comer, Republican Richard Heath has asked for a recanvass of his 1,427 vote loss to Ryan Quarles for state agriculture commissioner.) But what will the County Clerks offices actually be doing on Thursday at 9:00 am when they recanvass these races? It is fairly simple, and it depends on the kind of vote counting system each county uses. The recanvass essentially mimics the counting process from election night.Full Article: What Actually Happens During a Kentucky Recanvassing? | Election Law.