Secretary of State
Election Legislation Heads to Governor’s Desk for Consideration

Press Release Date:  Thursday, April 15, 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)  On its final day in session, the Kentucky legislature passed its second omnibus election bill in as many weeks. Among other provisions, Rep. Darryl Owens’ (D-Louisville) House Bill 152, provides more opportunities for citizens to serve as precinct election officers, allows for the appointment of county board of election members when there is no state party recognized executive committee in the county, and establishes a procedure for when a county clerk or sheriff is ill/incapacitated and can not perform his or her county board of elections duties. The legislation now heads to the Governor for his consideration.  House Bill 97, the other omnibus bill, was signed into law by Governor Beshear earlier this week.

 “I am grateful that the legislature continued to see this legislative package through to passage, especially as so many important issues remain unresolved during this legislative session,” said Secretary Grayson, the State’s Chief Election Official and Chairman of the State Board of Elections.  “Thanks to the insistence of Rep. Owens and the leadership of both chambers, Kentucky’s election laws are better than they have ever been, and the ultimate beneficiaries will be the citizens of Kentucky.”

The House of Representatives originally rejected changes made to the bill in the Senate; however, the Senate eventually receded from its original amendments.  The bill received near unanimous support in each legislative body.

“It is important that we continue to strengthen Kentucky’s election laws to ensure the most fair elections process possible,” said Rep. Owens.

Current law does not allow a spouse, parent, brother, sister or child of candidates to work as precinct election officers within the county that the candidate appears on the ballot.  However, in many instances, this law prevents potential precinct election officers from working a precinct in which no family members are on the ballot.  For instance, a precinct election officer may be related to a candidate for magistrate district 1, but under current law could not work in any other magistrate district, even though the worker does not have a relative on the ballot in those precincts.  Although this legislation will not be in effect for the upcoming primary election, it will remedy this issue and hopefully, provide needed precinct election officer relief to county clerks and County Boards of Election in future elections.

The legislation also allows for appointments to county boards of elections when there is no state party recognized county executive committee in the county.  Under the proposed legislation, the state party executive committees could submit a list of nominees to the State Board of Elections.

The legislation establishes a procedure for when a county clerk or sheriff is ill or incapacitated and can not perform his or her county board of elections duties. Under the proposed legislation, if the county clerk or sheriff cannot perform his or her duties due to illness or incapacitation, they would name a temporary replacement to serve in their place, subject to approval by county board of elections.

 “With the legislature’s passage of these omnibus election bills, other states will continue to look at Kentucky as a model for election administration.  I am confident that the Governor will agree about the value of this legislation and sign this important bill into law,” said Secretary Grayson.

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