Secretary of State
Grayson Announces Study of Voter Verified Paper Trails
(Frankfort, KY) With national and local advocates supporting his cause, Secretary of State Trey Grayson announced today that the Kentucky Help America Vote Act (HAVA) advisory committee will study the issues surrounding the implementation of voter verified paper audit trails (VVPATs) for Kentucky’s elections system.
“I think it is important for Kentuckians to take a close examination of our voting equipment,” stated Secretary Grayson. “Media reports about the potential vulnerabilities of electronic voting systems have caused some citizens to question the accuracy of vote counts in our country. While I am confident that our elections systems are dependable, anything that we, as election administrators, can do to shore up any doubts should be explored—including the addition of Voter Verified Paper Trails.”
VVPATs gained national attention with the implementation of the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which Congress passed to improve voting system technology and election administration procedures in the wake of the 2000 presidential election. HAVA mandates states offer all voters equal access to our elections "through the use of at least one direct recording electronic voting system (DRE) or other voting system equipped for individuals with disabilities at each polling place." Although Kentucky had been utilizing DREs since the mid-1980’s, prior to HAVA, most states had not yet transitioned to this newer voting equipment.
The committee is expected to meet following the upcoming session of the General Assembly. National experts as well as elections officials from across the country will be called to discuss the pros and cons of adding printers to the current systems, as well as other alternatives, so that a voter verified paper trail is available. In addition, the committee will examine voting systems in Jefferson County, the only county in Kentucky to offer VVPATs.
Ray Martinez III, former commissioner and vice chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), recently applauded Secretary Grayson for his advocacy on this issue. “Secretary Grayson should be commended for his insightful leadership on such a critical issue as voting system security and accuracy. The time has come for every voting system in America to have the means to independently verify voter intent. These hearings will allow for a balanced and comprehensive look at the best means to achieve full integrity for electronic voting systems.”
Grayson noted that it was important for the committee to fully investigate this issue and to proceed prudently. “It is especially important that we do not rush into a decision that may not be best for the Commonwealth in the long-run.” Grayson has advocated for this approach as national advisory committees to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) recently advised the EAC to require some form of software independent verification of votes, such as VVPAT. “It would do more harm to make a rash decision in the short-run only to have the EAC require something different at a later date. Resources are limited, and we must be good stewards of our taxpayers’ dollars in addition to advocating for the best voting equipment available for Kentuckians.”
Guy Zeigler, Franklin County Clerk and President of the Kentucky County Clerk’s Association (KCCA), remarked that “the KCCA appreciates Secretary Grayson allowing the HAVA committee, comprised of a number of interested parties including County Clerks, to take a careful examination of the issue in order to determine the best course of action for Kentucky’s election administration. The committee will allow sufficient time and expertise to be involved in this important discussion.”
David Dill, the founder of VerifiedVoting.org and a prominent advocate of voter-verified paper trails said “We are thrilled to learn that Secretary Grayson’s is taking the lead improving the trustworthiness of Kentucky elections, especially since the state has had paperless electronic voting for a long time. A committee of experts in such topics as election administration, voting rights, and computer security can help sort through the complex issues to find the best solution for Kentucky.”
Grayson recently addressed the Interim Committee of the Kentucky General Assembly’s Task Force on Elections where he advocated for software independent vote verification and no-excuse in-house absentee voting as a way to bring Kentucky’s elections into the 21st century. Upon taking office, Grayson pledged to make sure that Kentucky met the numerous HAVA requirements before advocating for major changes to Kentucky’s election system. This decision allowed election officials to absorb the numerous HAVA changes effectively. November marked the conclusion of the first full election cycle under those new mandates. Currently, 22 states require VVPATs, while 31 states allow some form of no-excuse in-person absentee voting, according to the non-partisan and non-advocacy related electionline.org.
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