Secretary of State
The Gubernatorial Runoff Law to be Part of the History Books, Law is Repealed Upon Governor’s Signature
(Frankfort, KY) Kentucky legislators finally dealt the gubernatorial runoff its final blow today after the House Bill 370 was passed by the House of Representatives. On April 2, 2008, the Senate State and Local Government Committee reformulated the bill to include a provision to repeal the runoff. The repeal was one of the top legislative priorities for Secretary of State Trey Grayson in the 2008 session of the General Assembly and was sponsored originally by Chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee, Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown), and Chairman of the House Elections, Constitutional Amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, Darryl Owens (D-Louisville).
Grayson, the State’s Chief Election Official, noted that a runoff is not only an expensive ordeal for county governments and taxpayers, but also rarely meets its desired effects. “Turnout in most runoff elections is abysmal which often leads parties to nominate a candidate with fewer votes than the top vote-getter in the original primary,” remarked Grayson. “This legislation is something that most, if not all legislators, agreed was bad public policy.”
The runoff provision was added as part of election reforms in 1992. The provision only applied to gubernatorial races and was applied if the top vote-getter in each party’s primary election received less than 40% of the vote. The provision was never used but came closest in 2007 when now-Governor Steve Beshear narrowly topped the cutoff by garnering 41% of the vote.
"Taxpayers were nearly forced to pay for an unnecessary election last year, and this legislation will prevent that situation from arising again.” said Sen. Thayer, Chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee. "The runoff election is bad law and the last remaining provision of taxpayer funding of gubernatorial campaigns that needed to be removed from the law books."
The runoff election was estimated to cost counties at least five million dollars with the Commonwealth projected to incur other costs. Several county officials testified during the 2007 Session that counties would need to consider cutting back services in order to find the resources to fund the runoff election.
Caldwell County Clerk Toni Watson, President of Kentucky County Clerks’ Association, commended the legislature on the repeal of the runoff, “County clerks across Kentucky are pleased with the elimination of the runoff primary. This will save county governments and taxpayers several million dollars. This is especially important during these tough economic times. My thanks to the members of the Kentucky General Assembly for taking this important step in saving much needed revenue.”
# # #