Secretary of State
State Board of Elections Votes on Emergency Regulation for Runoff Election, Military and Overseas Voters to have Better Access to Absentee Ballots

Press Release Date:  Thursday, March 29, 2007  
Contact Information:  Les Fugate, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
Office of the Secretary of State
Office: (502) 564-3490
Cell: (502) 229-3803

(Frankfort, KY) The Kentucky State Board of Elections took immediate action yesterday to address a potential problem that Kentucky’s military servicemen and overseas citizens may face in the upcoming runoff primary election. 


The runoff, which will occur if no gubernatorial candidate in one of the party primary elections receives over forty percent of the vote, is scheduled to occur 35 days after the primary election on June 26, 2007.  That short turnaround time could disenfranchise military voters, and specifically those overseas, because there would not be time to print ballots, mail them to overseas voters, and have time for those ballots to be received back in county clerks’ offices by the runoff election day.


“I am pleased that the board could work together in a bi-partisan manner to find a solution to this difficult situation that the runoff election places on election administrators and in particular military voters,” commented Secretary of State Trey Grayson, Chairman of the Board of Elections and the Commonwealth’s Chief Election Officer.  “It is imperative that we provide the best access possible to military voters as they are on the front lines every day defending our democracy and right to vote.”


The Board voted to allow the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot that is commonly used by military voters and overseas citizens during federal elections to be used for gubernatorial runoff elections only.  The emergency regulation allows Kentucky military voters and overseas citizens to utilize this ballot for a possible runoff in the 2007 primary election season and will become effective after Governor Fletcher signs the statement of emergency.  The State Board of Elections worked in close cooperation with the Office of the Attorney General to draft a regulation that would better serve military personnel and overseas citizens within parameters of current law.  The Board will be working with the Federal voting Assistance Program (FVAP) out of the Department of Defense as well as the Overseas Voter Foundation to make ensure the success of the new regulation.


The Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot allows overseas citizens and military voters to print off a federal form to use as a write-in ballot.  Voters will simply have to write in the name of the candidate that they prefer and mail it back to their counties.  The State Board of Elections will place the names of the runoff candidates on their website and information as well as on a phone recording and website hosted by the FVAP so that military personnel will know which candidates have advanced to the runoff.  The Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot will allow voters direct access to the ballot instead of having to wait for counties to print the ballot and mail it to them.


The possibility of a runoff occurring was in doubt because the Kentucky State Senate had voted to repeal the runoff during the 2007 Regular Session of the General Assembly which ended yesterday.  The Kentucky House did not concur with the change suggested by the Senate which assured that the runoff will remain on the books for the 2007 gubernatorial election absent a special session to address the issue.


            The State Board of Elections and Office of the Secretary of State will be working with county clerks and other local officials to implement the runoff election in the best manner possible by addressing issues that are unique to the runoff.  Training sessions, documentation, and other useful tools are already being planned to help address the many obstacles that the runoff presents.


“The implementation of this election will be difficult, especially with counties shouldering the burden of the costs of the runoff,” stated Grayson.  “However, Kentucky has some of the brightest election administrators in the country, and we will be working day and night to provide the best election administration possible given the constraints that we face with this runoff.”


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