Secretary of State
Kentuckians to Participate in Historic Elections
Voters will head to the polls on Tuesday, November 7, 2006 to vote in the Kentucky general election with more races on the ballot than at any other time in Kentucky’s history. In addition to a large ballot, voters will also see new accessible voting machines in every polling location in the Commonwealth in addition to or in replacement of machines that they had used in previous elections. Election officials are also reminding individuals of a common voting error that occurs when non-partisan races are on the ballot.
Secretary of State Trey Grayson, the chief elections officer of the Commonwealth, is encouraging all registered voters to cast their ballots on Election Day. “Voting is an important right and responsibility,” Grayson stated. “It is my hope that we will see an impressive turnout on the 7th and that voters with disabilities will utilize these great new resources at the polls.”
Thanks in part to the sweeping election reform passed by Congress in the wake of the 2000 Presidential election cycle, the State Board of Elections, county clerks, and other election officials across Kentucky and the nation are working to ensure that citizens have the best access to the elections process in our country’s history. The Help America Vote Act (HAVA), passed in 2002 by Congress, established a number of mandates for election officials to meet in time for the 2006 election cycle.
The biggest changes at the polls are directed to help voters with disabilities vote unassisted for the first time in their lives. These changes include making all polling locations accessible and purchasing machines which are adaptable to meet the needs of a voter with a disability.
Sharon Fields, Executive Director of the Kentucky Disabilities Coalition testified earlier this year before the Kentucky House Elections, Constitutional Amendments & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee about the upgrades at the polls. 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.”
HAVA requires all polling location sites to be accessible to voters with disabilities and County Clerks and County Board of Elections worked aggressively to ensure that Kentucky met these standards. Because a number of previous sites were not accessible, some changes to polling locations had to be made in order to comply with the law, and in many cases, the polling location had to be moved entirely. The State Board of Election’s preliminary figures indicate nearly 25% of all polling locations have moved entirely to new locations and some sites have changed since the primary election.
“While we certainly do not want to inconvenience voters, it is important that we comply with the law and make sure that every polling location is accessible for all voters,” stated Grayson. “It is important for Kentuckians to check their polling location before heading to the polls in order to reduce any complications on Election Day.”
Voters are reminded that because this election includes a large number of non-partisan races, voters who cast a straight-ticket vote may accidentally under-vote non-partisan elections such as judicial races, school boards, and some city offices. Straight party voting only occurs in partisan races and voters sometimes mistakenly believe that by pressing a straight party option, they have cast a ballot in all races.
Fortunately for voters, the Help America Vote Act requires that all new voting machines have verification screens where voters verify their selections before their vote has been cast. If an under-vote has occurred, it will be readily apparent to voters who use the new electronic voting machines. On older models of electronic voting machines, flashing lights will indicate whether or not a voter has made a selection in a particular race.
Election officials are also reminding voters that because of the verification screen on new generation voting machines, it is important that they see the “Cast Ballot Screen” that indicates that a vote has been cast before the voter exits the polling booth. Only when that screen appears on the new machines has a ballot been cast.
Voters will have the opportunity to elect candidates for a number of offices including:
• U.S. Representatives
• State Senators in even-numbered districts
• State Representatives
• Justice of the Supreme Court (1, 2, 4, 5 unexpired term, 6)
• Judge of the Court of Appeals
• Circuit Judge
• District Judge
• Commonwealth Attorney (if the jurisdiction is multi-county)
• Local officials including county officers and some city offices as well.
When voters head to the polls, they will also be governed by electioneering laws that prohibits electioneering within 300 feet of the polling location. Bumper stickers on cars of voters at a polling location are an exception to the electioneering prohibition. Cars may not be left near polling locations all day with the intent of advocating for a particular candidate.
The Office of the Secretary of State and the Kentucky State Board of Elections offer a number of online resources to aid citizens for the upcoming election. Citizens can take the time to review a sample ballot on the Office of the Secretary of State website at www.sos.ky.gov/elections/ballots. If a citizen is not sure if he or she is registered to vote, unaware of their political affiliation, or does not know where to vote on election day, he or she can visit the Voter Information Center at www.sos.ky.gov/vic. The service also provides driving directions to the polls.
For more information about how to use the new voting machines in your area, electioneering laws, or other election related information, please contact your local county clerk.
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