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.
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.
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.
Electioneering during next week’s primary election will not be allowed within 100 feet of Kentucky polling locations. That was the message delivered by Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes on Friday. In her capacity as the state’s Chief Election Official, Grimes issued a notice to the public the State Board of Elections has approved and filed an emergency administrative regulation prohibiting electioneering within 100 feet of the entrance to a polling place on Election Day. The emergency administrative regulation, which is effective immediately, does not apply to private property.
Kentucky: State prohibits electioneering with 100 feet of polls after court strikes down 300-foot ban | Lexington Herald-Leader
Kentucky has taken steps to prohibit electioneering on public property within 100 feet of polling places for the May 19 primary election. The State Board of Elections approved the emergency administrative regulation authorized by Gov. Steve Beshear at a meeting Tuesday. The regulation comes in the wake of an April 28 ruling by the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that a Kentucky law prohibiting electioneering within 300 feet of a polling place was unconstitutional.
On Monday, the Kentucky House of Representatives passed legislation based on Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’ recommendations to modernize voter registration in Kentucky. House Bill 214, a bill to allow voters to register to vote and update their voter registration electronically, passed 92-3. House Bill 212, which would allow in-person absentee voting on the basis of age, disability or illness, previously passed unanimously. Both bills are sponsored by Rep. Darryl Owens (D-Louisville). Grimes has pursued the use of technology to protect the right to vote since being elected, successfully seeking in 2013 legislation to permit electronic voter registration for military and overseas voters. In 2014 she oversaw the implementation of the military and overseas voting portal, which has been praised nationally by voters and local election officials alike for how easy and convenient it is to use. Grimes also held roundtable discussions with elected officials and citizens around the state to discuss expanding electronic voter registration to all voters.
Six weeks after she lost her own bid for the U-S Senate, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (R-Kentucky) tells WHAS11 if U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) tries to appear on the same ballot for both Senate and President in 2016, she will challenge him in court. “The law is clear,” Grimes said. “You can’t be on the ballot twice for two offices.” Kentucky Democrats are not cooperating as Paul considers mounting simultaneous campaigns for Senate and President. Democrats maintained control of the Kentucky House in last month’s election, a roadblock to legislation favored by the Republican Senate to remove the prohibition. House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-Prestonsburg) declined to consider a Senate bill to that effect earlier this year.
Senator Rand Paul is running for reelection in 2016. Can you believe it? He’s also probably running for president in 2016. That means that Paul will be running for two (2) offices in Kentucky in 2016 — a double-win for America, but also something that he can’t do according to Kentucky state law. Paul’s favored recourse — getting the Kentucky legislature to eliminate a law stating that “no candidate’s name shall appear on any voting machine or absentee ballot more than once” — is all but dead, after the Kentucky GOP’s efforts to take control of the state House fell short on Election Day. Kentucky’s Democratic Speaker has been clear that he has no intention of bringing up a bill to eliminate the law, because he doesn’t like Rand Paul. This doesn’t leave Paul without options. A couple of them are fairly straightforward: he could just not run in the Kentucky presidential primary and cede those delegates. Or the party could move the presidential primary to a caucus in March and keep the Senate primary in May — something that the party could choose to do without the legislature’s approval, the downside being that the party would have to cover the costs of the caucuses.
The next Senate was just elected on the greatest wave of secret, special-interest money ever raised in a congressional election. What are the chances that it will take action to reduce the influence of money in politics? Nil, of course. The next Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has long been the most prominent advocate for unlimited secret campaign spending in Washington, under the phony banner of free speech. His own campaign benefited from $23 million in unlimited spending from independent groups like the National Rifle Association, the National Association of Realtors and the National Federation of Independent Business. The single biggest outside spender on his behalf was a so-called social welfare group calling itself the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, which spent $7.6 million on attack ads against his opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes. It ran more ads in Kentucky than any other group, aside from the two campaigns.
A Kentucky judge on Monday rejected a court motion filed by Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes seeking an immediate injunction to stop Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell’s campaign from sending out mailers that have the appearance of an official Kentucky notice. The mailers, reported Friday by TPM, read “ELECTION VIOLATION NOTICE” and go on to warn voters that they may be acting on “fraudulent” information from the Grimes campaign. The tactic ultimately amounts to a creative attack on Grimes, although the mailers could create the impression that the voters who received them are at risk of committing voter fraud if they cast a ballot. Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd denied the Grimes motion, spokespersons for the Grimes and McConnell campaigns confirmed on Monday. Grimes is “exploring options” on what to do next, her spokesperson said.
A Kentucky law banning election-day campaigning near polling places was struck down Tuesday by a federal judge, who ruled the 300-foot buffer impedes free speech by reaching private homes and yards. The ruling by U.S. District Judge William O. Bertelsman came three weeks before voters head to the polls to decide a long ballot of local, state and federal races. Those races include the hard-fought U.S. Senate campaign pitting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes. The ruling means that a broad range of electioneering activities would be allowed near the polls, said Christopher Wiest, one of the attorneys for the northern Kentucky man who challenged the state law. “What this means is there is now complete freedom of speech in and around polling places on Election Day,” Wiest said by phone. “People can hand out fliers, talk to voters. They can wear (campaign) T-shirts, they can hold signs. All that is now fair game.”
Kentucky: State Republicans question Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate’s ballot signatures | Lexington Herald-Leader
The Republican Party of Kentucky has asked the state’s county clerks to review and verify the signatures that Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate David Patterson filed to get on the ballot. State GOP chairman Steve Robertson told the Herald-Leader on Thursday that Republicans found “clearly fictitious and fabricated names,” citing an example of a signature belonging to a purported voter named “Ben Dover” who listed his address as an obscene phrase. In a letter to county clerks, Robertson asked the clerks to verify the names and addresses of people who signed a petition in favor of Patterson getting on the ballot with Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes and Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell.
Candidates do not have a right to see who’s applied for absentee ballots before the election, a federal judge in Covington ruled this week. Republican Kentucky Senate candidate Deb Sheldon sued the county clerks of Campbell and Bracken counties, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and Attorney General Jack Conway, challenging a state law passed in 2013 that shields the names and addresses of those who applied for absentee ballots until after the election. Sheldon is running against two other Republicans for the open Senate seat in Campbell, Pendleton and Bracken counties. She sought a list of those who filed for absentee ballots and argued that keeping the names private violated her First Amendment rights.
Shawnika Gill won’t get a chance to vote in the State of Kentucky unless the governor says she can. That’s because Kentucky has one of the most restrictive laws in the country for felons who want their right to vote restored and is one of only four states that requires the governor to sign off on the person’s application. But a group of political activists and those who work with felons have pushed in recent years for a change in the law and hope to gain traction with the new Senate leadership this year. Gill, 37, of Covington said a felony burglary conviction in 1996 at the age of 20 has kept her from the ballot box in Kentucky, even 10 years after she got out of prison. She said she feels she did her time. “I feel like I pay my taxes like everybody else and want to speak on things that are going on, especially gay marriage and things,” Gill said. “I want to marry my mate. I want to be able to put her on my income tax.”
Restoring the voting rights to felons ranked among the reforms some Northern Kentuckians would like to see Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes advocate for. Dozens of Northern Kentuckians Wednesday night at Dixie Heights High School told Grimes what they like and dislike about Kentucky’s voting laws. Grimes vistied Northern Kentucky as part of five town halls she will conduct around the state this year to get input on voting laws. Many wore stickers made by advocacy organization Kentuckians for the Commonwealth that read “I voted but 243,842 Kentuckians could not. Restore voting rights to former felons.” A majority of the the 121 people polled online by the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement at Northern Kentucky University–56 percent–”strongly” agreed with restoring voting rights to felons, while another 24 percent “somewhat” agreed. But Kentucky remains one of four states that requires a gubernatorial pardon to restore voting rights.
A special legislative election in central Kentucky could be the first test of the state’ new military voting law passed earlier this year to help ensure soldiers deployed to foreign countries get to cast ballots back home. Gov. Steve Beshear set the election for June 25 to replace former state Rep. Carl Rollins, who resigned earlier this week to become executive director of the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority. The election date, some two months off as required now, will allow more time for county clerks to send absentee ballots to military personnel and others serving overseas.