Crit Luallen, State Auditor of Public Accounts, released a review of state employees' use of the four hours leave time granted to them by Kentucky state government for the purpose of voting. The review, performed by the Auditor's Special Examinations Branch, determined the extent to which Commonwealth employees who took voting leave for the November 4, 2003 general election and the May 18, 2004 primary election actually voted.
The review showed, based on an electronic data match, 2,571 employees, or 10% of those taking paid voting leave on their timesheets, may not have voted in the 2003 general election. The 9,805 hours of leave taken by those employees had a cost to the Commonwealth of $164,611. During the 2004 primary election 4,081 employees took voting leave but the review produced no record of them casting ballots. The cost to the state for the 15,773 hours of voting leave in 2004 is $259,910. During the two elections combined, there were 6,652 instances of state employees improperly recording voting leave. The loss to the state equals approximately $424,500. The review also indicated that 1,202 employees claimed leave in both elections but records indicate they may have failed to vote in either. In addition, 709 employees claimed leave but were not found on the voter history file, indicating that these employees were not registered to vote or had been purged from the active voting roster. The November 2, 2004 general election was a state holiday and not included in the review.
"Voting is a serious responsibility of every citizen. For that reason the Commonwealth grants its employees four hours of paid leave to fulfill that duty. Unfortunately some employees have taken advantage of this to the detriment of government as a whole and to those employees who actually vote. It is important that all employees understand that voting leave is not a vacation. Appropriate personnel action should be taken against those who misuse the system," said State Auditor Luallen.
In a letter delivered to Erwin Roberts, Secretary of the Personnel Cabinet, the Auditor's Office made five recommendations to strengthen the controls over the use of voting leave by employees. Because the report documented at least a 5% error rate in methodology, the Auditor's Office recommends that the Personnel Cabinet direct agencies to further investigate whether an employee actually voted. The Auditor's Office also recommends that the Personnel Cabinet direct agency heads to adjust annual and compensatory leave balances by the corresponding number of hours improperly claimed for voting leave; take appropriate action against employees who inappropriately took voting leave; give employees instructions that reaffirm an employee must vote to claim voting leave; and subsequent to voting, request an employee who claims voting leave sign an acknowledgement that will be retained by the agency.