Ky. will allow online voter registration, possibly by next year, Sec. of State Alison Grimes announces

09/22/2015 03:15 PM

Kentuckians will be able to register to vote online, possibly in time for the next presidential election, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Tuesday.

Standing outside the League of Women Voters’ Louisville office, Grimes touted the “transformational change” as a way to generate more registered voters in the state. Grimes said funds for the project are available through the federal Help America Vote Act, and her office estimated the program’s cost at $45,000.

Grimes said the initiative has support from past Kentucky secretaries of state, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration and the Republican National Lawyers Association. Twenty-three states currently offer online voter registration, and five others and the District of Columbia have passed such measures but have not yet implemented them, according to “the National Conference of State Legislatures.”: http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/electronic-or-online-voter-registration.aspx

“They’ve seen increased security,” Grimes, who will face Republican Steve Knipper in the Nov. 3 election, said of the states that have enacted online voter registration laws. “They have seen better data, more accurate voter registration rolls, and importantly hundreds of thousands of dollars being saved across the nation, especially when we’re reducing the administrative burdens related to voter registration.”

Kentucky’s move toward an online voter registration system comes after a similar measure, House Bill 214, failed to get a Senate committee vote in this year’s session. HB 214 cleared the House on a 92-3 vote.

The Kentucky State Board of Elections, which Grimes chairs, crafted an administrative regulation enacting an online voter registration portal, which cleared the Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee on a 4-3 vote in July, according to a report by the Lexington Herald-Leader.

“We actually made sure in the event our General Assembly stalled as sometimes they often do, we were prepared,” Grimes said. “This is an initiative that the voters of Kentucky are demanding, and it’s made its way through the administrative regulation process, now effective law. Kentucky can’t wait any longer. We’re finally entering the 21st century as it relates to election administration thanks to the diligence and hard work of my staff and the State Board of Elections.”

Rep. Darryl Owens, who sponsored HB 214, was one of a handful of Democratic lawmakers on hand for Grimes’ announcement. The Louisville Democrat called the online voter initiative “one of the most monumental events taking place in our commonwealth today.”

“We are now going to ensure that everyone, everyone will have an opportunity to register, update their registration electronically,” he said. “Folks who maybe did not have access before now will, and I think a lot of people who are not registered will now go online to do their registration.

“Now, that’s only part of it. The other part is we’ve got to get ‘em to vote, but they can’t vote unless they register.”

Lawrence County Clerk Chris Jobe, president of the Kentucky County Clerks Association, did not return a call seeking comment on his organization’s stance on online voter registration.

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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