Ky. law enforcement and election officials aim to stop absentee ballot fraud

10/24/2012 07:58 AM

Absentee ballots have been the weak link in election integrity lately as vote buyers have been able to influence those who have requested the ballots to fill out early.

As Kerry Harvey, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, put it, influencing people with absentee ballots as opposed to on Election Day is “one way the vote buyers can ensure that they actually receive what they pay for.”

So Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said Tuesday she will push during the 2013 legislative session to exempt from open records laws the information of those who have asked for an absentee ballot.

In addition to protecting the security of people who need a ballot because they will be out of town, it will make it more difficult for individuals who want to fraudulently influence elections to find out who has requested absentee ballots.

So far, the biggest spike in absentee ballot requests has come from the counties in the 21st state Senate District in Laurel, Jackson, Estill, Menifee and Powell counties, Grimes said.

That’s the race to replace Republican Sen. Tom Jensen. It’s between former state Sen. Albert Robinson, a Republican from London who has been eager to return to the senate seat he lost to Jensen in 2004, and political newcomer, Democrat Amie Hacker of London.

While Harvey wouldn’t say if that 21st state Senate District is a main focus of law enforcement this fall, he said federal law enforcement will be particularly attuned to what goes on across Eastern Kentucky, considering it’s history and recent high-profile vote buying cases in Breathitt, Clay and Magoffin counties.


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