Secretary of State
Legislation to Reduce Voter Disenfranchisement Signed into Law
(Frankfort, KY) Throughout the country, many states have difficulty with “split election precincts” where the precinct boundary line crosses another boundary line. In Kentucky, this is typically seen in districts relating to cities and to school boards. In some instances, voters at these “split precincts” are given the wrong ballot. Governor Steve Beshear signed legislation, today, that will try to minimize this occurrence by providing for stronger data sharing between cities or school boards and county clerks. Senate Bill 35, sponsored by Senator Alice Forgy Kerr (R-Lexington), passed the legislature with overwhelming support earlier this month.
“With so many interested parties focused on preventing the disenfranchisement of voters, I was confident that this legislation would be supported by the legislature, and they certainly fulfilled that expectation,” said Secretary of State Trey Grayson, Kentucky’s Chief Election Official. “The true benefactors of this legislation will be poll workers and voters by alleviating any confusion about within which district a particular voter resides.”
This legislation is intended to assist county clerks in determining which voters are permitted to vote in city and school board elections. Frequently, there are allegations that non-residents are voting in these local elections, especially in circumstances where city and school board boundaries split or divide precincts.
“One of the fundamental rights of a citizen is to be able to cast a ballot for their respective elected officials. I am proud to work alongside cities, school boards, and election officials to pass legislation that will help to ensure that the proper boundaries are known, so that citizens get the opportunity to vote in the appropriate races,” said Senator Alice Forgy Kerr.
The legislation requires the city clerk to provide county clerks with maps of the city boundaries and a list of all properties within the jurisdiction by January 1, 2011, with any future changes to be reported in a similar manner. In addition, local school boards are required to provide written descriptions of each school district by that date.
County clerks are then required to use this information in coding whether a registered voter is eligible to vote in a particular city or school board election. This should significantly reduce the opportunity for voters to receive the wrong ballot when they are at the polls.
"This bill enables cities and county election officials to effectively work together to protect the integrity of city elections. KLC is pleased to have worked with the county clerks, Senator Kerr, and Sec. Grayson on this important legislation that ensures every vote is counted correctly," said Debbie Batliner, KLC board member and President of the Kentucky Municipal Clerks Association.
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