TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

State News

February 27, 2013

Bill passes to allow military personnel to cast absentee ballots

CORBIN — By Ronnie Ellis

CNHI News Service

It doesn’t quite match what Secretary of State Alison Grimes had in mind, but the Republican-controlled Senate Tuesday passed a bill to make it easier for military personnel to cast absentee ballots 37-0.

The bill is sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, and allows military personnel stationed outside of Kentucky to request voter registration and absentee ballots by email. But it does not permit their return by email, something Grimes wanted and which several Democratic senators said should be included.

Stivers, however, said concerns about the integrity of those ballots and identity of voters prompted the Kentucky County Clerks’ Association and Common Cause of Kentucky to ask that provision be deleted.

Stivers said the “executed ballots must be returned by mail, Fed Ex or UPS.” It also removes another provision sought by Grimes — allowing votes to be counted so long as they were transmitted by Election Day but received before the final vote was certified — usually about a week after the election.

Stivers’ version requires ballots to be received by 6 p.m. of Election Day.

Democrats voted for the bill and several commended the bi-partisan approach of Stivers and Grimes in crafting the bill. But they also said they preferred the original draft of the bill and hoped the Democratic-controlled House will restore the provisions sought by Grimes, including allowing ballots to be returned by email.

Minority Leader R.J. Palmer, D-Winchester, said 24 other states allow ballots to be returned by email, indicating they are confident of the integrity of that system.

“I think many of us do believe the bill was a better bill as drafted,” Palmer said, reminding colleagues soldiers risk their lives to ensure the right to vote for those back home. Palmer said lawmakers should do everything possible to make it easier for soldiers to vote themselves.

Sen. Jerry Rhoads, D-Madisonville, said he was informed that most county clerks were okay with the original bill, but Stivers countered he had a letter from the association’s executive committee asking the return email provision be removed.

Rhoads is counting on the House to restore the provisions sought by Grimes.

“I hope in the final analysis, we’ll return to the original bill,” Rhoads said.

Several Republican senators spoke in favor of the bill and noted that it includes a provision to study how to ensure the integrity of the ballots electronically and that can be addressed in future sessions.

“I will continue to fight to fully protect Kentucky’s military and overseas citizens’ right to vote,” said Grimes. “I hope the House will join me in that fight and take measures to strengthen the bill. Our military stands up for us, and they deserve to have us stand up for them.”

RONNIE ELLIS writes for CNHI News Service and is based in Frankfort. Reach him at rellis@cnhi.com. Follow CNHI News Service stories on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cnhifrankfort.

1
Text Only
State News
  • Grimes comes out firing on McConnell

    Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky’s Democratic Secretary of State who is challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell in this fall’s elections, went after the five-term incumbent in a speech here to a convention of local county officials.

    July 11, 2014

  • Conway, Comer address judge-execs

    It might have been a preview of next year’s Kentucky governor’s election — but county officials here for a convention probably didn’t expect one likely candidate to endorse a potential opponent.

    July 11, 2014

  • McConnell, Grimes parade cases

    Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes know a good place to look for votes when they see it.

    July 7, 2014

  • McConnell, Grimes disagree on contraception case

    Kentucky’s Republican congressman praised Monday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that corporations may opt out of a requirement to provide employees contraceptive coverage through insurance plans.

    July 1, 2014

  • Beshear sings praises of Affordable Care Act

    Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear told a Washington conference Tuesday that Kentucky’s embrace of the Affordable Care Act has been “life-changing” for thousands of Kentucky enrollees and “transformative” for Kentucky.

    June 18, 2014

  • Kentucky actually fares well under new EPA regs

    Kentucky politicians and the coal industry howled about the latest installment of greenhouse gas emission regulations issued last week by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

    June 16, 2014

  • New EPA C02 regs examined

    Given their complexity and potential impact in coal-dependent states like Kentucky, there’s considerable confusion about new carbon emission regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

    June 16, 2014

  • State budget officials predict ‘significant shortfall’

    With only 20 days left in the 2014 fiscal year, state budget officials announced Tuesday Kentucky faces an “inevitable” and “significant” revenue shortfall in both the General and Road Funds.

    June 11, 2014

  • Grimes ad blasts Obama for coal policies

    Mitch McConnell is no longer the only U.S. Senate candidate running against Democratic President Barack Obama.

    June 5, 2014

  • Legislative leaders blast carbon regs

    President Barack Obama’s efforts to rein in carbon emissions, blamed by science for changes in the climate, continues to draw harsh criticism from both political parties in Kentucky.

    June 5, 2014