Secretary of State
House Committee Passes Expansive Election Legislation
(Frankfort, KY) The Kentucky House Elections, Constitutional Amendments & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee continued their aggressive effort to clean up and strengthen Kentucky election laws by passing House Bill 423, House Bill 438, and House Bill 464. The bills sponsored by Rep. Adrian Arnold (D-Mount Sterling), Rep. Brad Montell (R-Shelbyville), and Rep. Frank Rasche (D-Paducah), respectively, spell out a number of specific changes to the law that will further clarify candidate filing processes, allow individuals who use an accessibility device to vote to have reasonable time to do so, and to allow the faxing of absentee ballot applications. All of the measures passed out of committee unanimously.
“Together, these bills take important steps in improving the elections process for Kentucky citizens,” commented Secretary of State Trey Grayson, the Chief Elections Officer of the Commonwealth. “I commend all of the sponsors of the legislation as well as the committee for working together to find bi-partisan solutions to these issues.”
With the large number of candidates who filed for office this year, a number of examples became apparent where Kentucky current election laws are not clear and only provide confusion in the filing process. House Bill 438 makes changes so that candidates can know up front how the filing process is administered.
One example of how the legislation will address some of these problems focuses on candidates who file for more than one elected office. Kentucky law states that no candidate’s name can appear on the ballot twice for a regularly scheduled election. However, that does not prevent candidates from filing for two offices and then dropping off the ballot for one of the races before the ballot goes to print.
“I am delighted to support legislation that will provide Kentucky citizens with a fair and efficient elections process. I believe this particular bill will clarify many important questions about the election filing process,” said Rep. Arnold, chairman of the Elections, Constitutional Amendments & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee and sponsor of House Bill 423.
House Bill 438 has become a pressing issue as provisions of the Help America Vote Act requiring voting machines accessible to individuals with disabilities become effective this year. The bill will allow voters who use accessible devices to vote within an appropriate time frame.
Sharon Fields, Executive Director of the Kentucky Disabilities Coalition testified on behalf of the bill. During her testimony she noted, “It is one of the most important rights to be able to vote independently, and these changes will make it possible to do just that.”
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Montell later responded, “It is an honor to carry this bill for the thousands of Kentuckians who will have the opportunity to vote unassisted for the first time in their life. This legislation is long over due and will certainly mark an historic change for many of our fellow citizens.”
The final piece of legislation, House Bill 464, allows county clerks to fax an application for an absentee ballot to voters registered to vote in their county.
“This is just one more step in making this process user-friendly for voters in Kentucky,” stated Rep. Rasche, sponsor of the legislation. “This will help speed the process along for many voters in Kentucky and will help ensure that they get the opportunity to cast their ballot.”
All of the legislation is part of a larger election legislative package that Secretary Grayson has for the 2006 session of the General Assembly. Primarily, the package focuses on making the elections process more transparent, corruption-free, and less burdensome on Kentucky citizens.
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