Secretary of State
Kentucky Blazes Path in New Voter Fraud Prevention Technique
(Frankfort, KY) – On a recent episode of West Wing, a television sitcom based on events surrounding the President of the United States, the election of the newest president was temporarily in doubt due to concern of voter fraud in the state of Nevada. This fraud centered upon citizens voting in multiple states, in part, because those states could not share voter registration data with each other. Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson announced today that Kentucky is one of four initial states to take proactive steps to prevent such fraud, the first such step of its kind in the nation.
“Kentucky election administration continues to be at the forefront of the newest technologies and techniques to provide the most accurate and fair elections possible,” stated Grayson, Kentucky’s chief election official. “We must continue to explore any options that might keep fraud from entering the elections process. With Kentucky serving as a national leader in this area, it is incumbent upon us to take the lead on such efforts.”
Shortly after the 2000 presidential election, the country’s focus on elections sharpened due to many errors in the elections process in some states, notably Florida. At that time, many election observers noted that it was possible for citizens to vote in multiple states without election officials’ knowledge. It was also possible in many states, although not in Kentucky, to vote in multiple counties in the same manner.
In the wake of that election, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act, which required every state to implement statewide voter registration systems. Kentucky has had a similar database for over 30 years and as such, served, along with the state of Michigan, as a national model for other states to implement this requirement.
“Shortly after I came into office, I sat down with Sarah Johnson, Executive Director of the Kentucky State Board of Elections, and one of the nations top election administration experts, and asked her if it would be possible to share our data with other states in order to remove voters who had moved to another state. This would prevent voters from voting in both an election in Kentucky and other states simultaneously,” commented Grayson.
Grayson and Johnson set out to find the best partners for the initial program. Because of Johnson’s position on the executive committee of the National Association of State Election Directors and Grayson’s recent appointment as Chairman of the National Association of Secretary of State’s (NASS) Election Committee, the two had resources at their fingertips to find perfect partnerships in the effort.
Initially, Kentucky’s efforts focused on matching data with South Carolina because of their well developed state registration database and diligent election administrators. South Carolina soon found similar interests in the effort, and volunteered to have its State Data Center handle all logistics of the match. Soon there after, Tennessee agreed to participate as well.
The initial matches found 16,000 voters that were listed in multiple states databases and thus, were purged from the state in which their voter registration was not the most current. Great strides were made in order to prevent any unnecessary purges of legitimate voters. Still, current Kentucky law allows for voters inadvertently deleted because of clerical errors to retain their full voting rights. Voters can check their registration by visiting the Voter Information Center at www.sos.ky.gov/vic.
A review of voter turnout information revealed that no voters registered in multiple states actually voted in Kentucky and another state, but that is not slowing down Kentucky’s efforts to continue this cleaning of the registration rolls.
“Just because we have not seen this type of fraud in previous elections does not mean we should rest on our laurels,” commented Grayson. “We will be looking for other voter fraud prevention techniques, as well as other states with which we can compare data.”
The next state to join the registration list cleanup effort will be Georgia, shortly after the state’s primary election, and Grayson is hopeful that other states will soon join the effort. He detailed the effort at a recent NASS conference and will relay the results to other election officials this summer at NASS’s conference in New Mexico.
Grayson concluded, “I think this is the beginning of a nationwide effort to clamp down on election fraud. Sometime in the future, those who wish to vote in multiple states’ elections will be prevented from doing so, and we can say that Kentucky was one of the leaders of that effort. Kentuckians should be proud that we are once again blazing a path in election administration and fraud prevention.”
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