Secretary of State
Bill to Address Vote Hauling Receives Important Endorsements
(Frankfort, KY) – Although Kentucky election administration has been hailed as a model for other states over the last 30 years, these successes are often overshadowed by recurring problems that the Commonwealth faces with voter fraud. Today, Secretary of State Trey Grayson and Kentucky House Minority Whip Ken Upchurch (R-Monticello) announced major endorsements for House Bill 658 which outlaws the use of vote hauling as a conduit for illegally purchasing votes. Former Secretaries of State Bob Babbage and John Y. Brown, III have voiced their support for the legislation as has a former Kentucky Attorney General and a former Assistant U.S Attorney.
“This legislation is a critical step in addressing the blight of Kentucky elections – vote buying,” stated Secretary of State Trey Grayson. “Having the support of important leaders such as Rep. Upchurch and the former officials highlights the importance of this legislation. It is time we take action to solve this problem.”
Technically speaking, vote hauling – paying someone to drive voters to the polls – is legal. It is quite common to see vans driven around on Election Day taking people to the polls. However, this legal expenditure offers campaigns a way to launder campaign funds to buy votes. The campaigns pay haulers who then use the cash as a bounty to get voters to the polls.
Rep. Upchurch noted that, “Vote hauling is one of those little dirty secrets of Kentucky politics that can no longer be tolerated. This legislation will allow the lawful transportation of voters while preventing a ruse for vote buying.”
Campaigns would be required to keep a list of drivers and voters who were driven to the polls. Such a paper trail would serve as a deterrent to vote buyers and would provide an audit trail for potential investigations. The bill would also subject the haulers and campaigns to perjury charges if they falsified the paperwork. A similar system already exists for voters who receive aid at the polls. The voter and the assisting individual must sign a voter assistance form.
"I enthusiastically applaud efforts to curtail the practice of ‘vote hauling.’ Although in many instances legitimate, too often vote hauling is used as a thinly veiled effort to disguise illegally buying votes by political candidates seeking to steal elections. Such practices undermine our democratic system, offsetting honest votes cast for honest candidates," stated former Secretary of State John Y. Brown, III.
The initial idea for the legislation came from Tom Self, an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky for over 24 years, who previously worked directly on voter fraud issues. “As someone who was tasked with prosecuting voter fraud, I am confident that this approach to regulating vote hauling will not only help in the prosecution of those who illegally buy votes, but it will also serve as an effective deterrence mechanism,” commented Self.
The measure also received the backing of the chairmen of the 1993 Task-Force on Elections which worked to eliminate voter fraud through absentee ballots.
“It is essential that every effort be made to address voter fraud, and this legislation will eliminate any remaining abuses resulting from vote hauling,” said former Secretary of State Bob Babbage.
Former Attorney General Chris Gorman stated that during his time as the state’s chief law enforcement official, “We found that these crimes were extremely difficult to successfully prosecute. This legislation will be a major step forward to give prosecutors the tools with which to effectively prosecute cases.”
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