Kentucky voters may be able to register to vote and update their information online during next year’s presidential election.
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced in Louisville Tuesday that her office will be extending online registration to all eligible voters in the state. The service is currently only available to military voters.
Grimes had advocated for a bill earlier this year creating online registration, but it didn’t pass through the Republican-controlled state Senate.
Grimes instead went through the state’s administrative regulation process, and now the program is effective law.
“Kentucky can’t wait any longer,” Grimes said. “We are finally entering the 21st Century as it relates to election administration.”
Owens said he appreciated Grimes’ efforts to get online registration approved in the state.
“This is probably, as far as I am concerned, one of the most monumental events taking place in our commonwealth today because we are now going to ensure that everyone will have an opportunity to register and update their registration electronically,” said state Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville.
Opponents have expressed concerns that online voter registration will lead to fraud. But last month, State Board of Elections members said fraud had not been an issue in other states with the system.
The Secretary of State’s Office plans to have the system up and running for the 2016 election.
It’s going to have to be a quick turnaround, though. Republicans recently moved up the calendar for 2016 by choosing to hold a presidential caucus in March.
“Our hope is that this will be ready in time for the 2016 presidential elections,” Grimes said. “As I said, though, we like to do things right.”
The system is expected to cost about $45,000 but could result in $100,000 total savings for county clerks’ offices, according to the elections board.
The program will be paid for with federal Help American Vote Act funds.
Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, held a conference call with reporters Tuesday to discuss National Voter Registration Day.
With Kentucky, 29 states now offer online voter registration. Jarrett said it’s “good news” that Kentucky is creating an online program.