Measure to bump back governor's race to presidential election year passes Senate panel

02/20/2013 06:07 PM

A Senate committee approved legislation that its sponsor says will save the state and counties money and increase voter turnout by changing the election cycle of statewide constitutional officers.

Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, is sponsoring the bill, which passed the Senate State and Local Government by a vote of 8-0.

The calls for changing the state’s constitution to hold the election for governor and other statewide offices during presidential election years instead of the year before presidential elections. The last governor’s race was in 2011 and the next will be in 2015. McDaniel said that could save the state $5 million.

Senators heard from the Kenton County and Jefferson County clerks — both Republicans — who illustrated how expensive it is to hold an election. The clerks said it would be more cost efficient and would likely increase participation in the voting process of statewide officers if it’s moved to a presidential election year, which typically brings out at least half of Kentucky’s registered voters.

The bill would allow current Gov. Steve Beshear and other constitutional officers to serve an additional year if the measure is ratified by the people.

Co-Sponsor of the bill Sen. Damon Thayer, R-Georgetown, told the panel the cost savings element of the bill was good but that the real plus was the additional civic engagement.

“If you look over the past three or four election cycles for our races for governor and other constitutional officers every year we have fewer and fewer members of the electorate selecting our executive branch,” Thayer said.

There was no dissenting discussion on the bill.

However, Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo told reporters Wednesday he wouldn’t support the proposal.

“I don’t see any reason to change what we’re doing,” Stumbo said. He said he didn’t think the change would affect Democrats even though that party has been successful in winning most of the statewide constitutional offices in those odd-year elections in recent years while Republicans have dominated statewide races for U.S. Senate during presidential elections over the past decade.


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