Sec. of State candidate Johnson says registering to vote without address unconstitutional, could lead to fraud

09/15/2011 07:39 PM

If a person doesn’t have an address, the Kentucky constitution says he or she doesn’t have the right to vote, said Bill Johnson, the Republican nominee for Secretary of State.

Johnson cited section 145 of the constitution as his argument for saying people who don’t have a physical address, mostly the homeless, shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

His reasoning is that a concerted effort to register people without an address to vote in the county clerk’s office precinct could sway local elections, and opens the election process to fraud.

“Our constitution of our state says that you can only vote in the precinct in which you live and no others,” Johnson said. “To excercis the right to vote, you have to be properly register. And your right to vote only applies in the precinct in which you live. And to register to determine your precinct and determine your residency, obviously you’ve got to have an address.” (see the 4:00 mark of the clip)

The pertinent language in the Kentucky constitution says, “Every citizen of the United States of the age of eighteen years who has resided in the state one year, and in the county six months, and the precinct in which he offers to vote sixty days next preceeding the election, shall be a voter in said precinct and not elsewhere…”

The word “resided” is the most important one. If a person lacks a physical address, are they really “residing” in an area? Johnson told Pure Politics that isn’t the case.

But the overall vague language of Section 145 seems to leave at least some room for interpretation. The language was ratified in 1955.

“They (homeless) can’t get a job without an address. You can’t open a bank account without an address. You can’t get government benefits without an address,” Johson said.

He said he wants to end the debate over the legalities because he believes they’re clear. But Johnson mentioned homeless veterans as a group that truly needs to get help, because some might be missing out on benefits to which they are entitled.

“Let’s start discussing the best way to help them get an address through homeless shelters or other ways. Because I think the most compassionate thing we can do for anyone is to help them have a place they can call home.” (see the 5:20 mark of the clip)

Johnson said he prefers the discussion not focus solely on the homeless, because they seem to be a pawn in the debate. He’s most worried about making sure elections are fair.

“It’s by law an essential to prevent election fraud, that we have an address for them to vote. Because the concern isn’t necessarily the homeless, the concern is an open door policy for election fraud,” he said. (see the 5:45 mark of the clip)

Johnson’s Democratic opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes wants to register the homeless to vote in the same precinct where the clerk’s office is. That has been the biggest difference between the candidates political policies.

Grimes also wants people who have been convicted of felonies to have their voting rights restored upon release from incarceration. That’s a policy Johnson strongly disagrees with.

About Pure Politics

Pure Politics airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET and again at 11:30 p.m. ET in all of cn|2's Kentucky markets. The program features political analysis and news, as well as interviews with officials, candidates, policy makers and political observers.


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.