Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes wants to explore the possibility of early voting in the commonwealth.
Across the country, 32 states and the District of Columbia permit a version of early voting that allows residents to cast their ballot prior to Election Day without an excuse.
Kentucky is surrounded by states that do allow early voting such as Indiana and Ohio, and state law only allows absentee voting for specific reasons such as pregnancy, being disable or military service.
Grimes says after the 2012 presidential race her office wants to review the effectiveness of eleciton procedures, adding she is concerned that Kentuckian’s voices aren’t being heard.
“During the period leading up to the general election we had a lot of Kentuckians who questioned what Kentucky’s current laws are regarding absentee voting. And right now here in the state of Kentucky you cannot vote early without an excuse,” she says. “And at this time I think it is prudent for us to listen to the voices of the citizens who we work so hard to protect, and to respond to our customers.”
Voting rights groups such as AARP Kentucky and The League of Women Voters of Kentucky have come out in support of the secretary of state holding these meetings. Since 2000, a number of states have passed laws allowing early voting, which represented 30 percent of the vote in the 2008 presidential race.
In the past, however, Kentucky lawmakers have been hesitant to support the idea. Several have cited the additional costs of early voting and county clerks seem uncertain, raising concerns about fraud and the ritual of voting on Election Day.
From The Cincinnati Enquirer:
Some Kentucky lawmakers said they see value in preserving the tradition of Election Day.
They argue that people who vote early wouldn’t have as much information as those who vote on Election Day.
Early voting would raise the price tag on campaigns since ads would have to start earlier, said State Rep. Adam Koenig, R-Erlanger.
“It benefits incumbents who are more apt and able to spend the money,” Koenig said. “Incumbents have more money to spend on radio and TV early.”
Campbell County Clerk Jack Snodgrass said he would have concerns about the potential for fraud for mail-in ballots, but he doesn’t see an issue for early, no-excuse voting in person at the clerk’s office.
Once the meetings conclude, Grimes will compile any and all feedback from the public and election officials, and will make any necessary recommendations to the General Assembly.
“It’s prudent for us to get their feedback and to understand what their thoughts are on how Kentucky’s laws in their view are or aren’t working,” Grimes tells WFPL. “And part of the conversation is obviously looking at what 32 other states including the District of Columbia do, which is to allow qualified voters to cast a ballot prior to Election Day without an excuse.”
The dates of the meetings will be announced in January 2013.