Secretary of State
Grayson-Backed Election Legislation Signed Into Law

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, April 13, 2010  
Contact Information:  Les Fugate, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
Office of the Secretary of State
Office: (502) 564-3490
Cell: (502) 229-3803

(Frankfort, KY) Kentucky’s governor signed an omnibus election bill today that will strengthen Kentucky elections and clarify laws for future elections. Among other provisions, Rep. Darryl Owens’ (D-Louisville) House Bill 97 clarifies that political organization and political group registrants and candidates have the same ballot access and voting opportunities as candidates or voters registered as independents.

 “The legislature took great pains to see this legislative package through to the end, and the final result will be an improved elections process for all Kentuckians,” said Secretary Grayson, the State’s Chief Election Official and Chairman of the State Board of Elections.  “I am especially appreciative of Representative Owens’ leadership on this legislation.”

House Bill 97 was passed by the House of Representatives but was amended in Senate Committee to change Kentucky’s primary to August.  The House of Representatives refused to concur with the change in the bill and asked the Senate to recede from the amendment, which it did.

“It is important that we continue to strengthen Kentucky’s election laws to ensure the most fair elections process possible.  This legislation will go a long way to continuing Kentucky’s status as a national leader in elections administration.” said Rep. Darryl Owens.

House Bill 97 clarifies language about political organizations and political groups.  The legislation clearly defines that voters and candidates of these groups should be treated similarly to voters and candidates registered as independents.  A Jefferson County Circuit ruling from the 2008 election cycle literally interpreted Independent registration status to include only voters who listed independent as an affiliation.  This decision left voters whose political affiliation was listed as Libertarian, Constitution, Green, etc. disenfranchised from voting in nonpartisan primary elections as well as from attaining ballot access.  A Court of Appeals ruling reversed that decision.  This legislation attempts to use the Court of Appeals ruling and original intent of the legislature to clearly provide ballot access and voting rights to political organizations and political groups.

The legislation also clarifies several questions concerning special elections.  HB 97 provides guidance to Independent and Political Group/Organization candidates seeking office as to what is required to qualify for the ballot.  Most importantly, it clarifies that a petition of at least 100 signatures must be filed and that the candidate cannot be registered as a member of a political party when he or she files a petition.

The legislation also allows the challenge of the bona fides of a candidate in special elections.  While statutes have allowed challenges for regularly scheduled elections, Kentucky law was silent on special elections.

 “The legislature’s actions will provide the foundation for successful elections for years to come in the Commonwealth.  I am appreciative that Governor Beshear agreed and signed these important bills into law,” said Secretary Grayson.

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