Secretary of State: Reports of vote buying, precinct complaints

05/18/2010 10:00 AM

By Tuesday morning, the state Board of Elections had received a host of complaints, including allegations of vote buying in a local race in Perry County and in Clay County.

Officials with the election integrity team — which includes the U.S. Attorneys and state Attorney General’s offices — are investigating the allegations in Perry County, which started at the Bulan precinct and spread to others, said Les Fugate, spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office. Officials also received a complaint of vote buying at a precinct in Clay County, Fugate said. The report from Clay County came in shortly after 9 a.m., and he said he didn’t know if the complaint was related to a particular race.

The Herald-Leader’s Janet Patton has more.

The U.S. Senate race also has stirred some controversy in southern Kentucky. The Board of Elections received some complaints about improper precinct activities involving overzealous campaigners who claimed to be supporters of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul, whose chief rival in the GOP primary is Secretary of State Trey Grayson.

Laurel County Clerk Dean Johnson said a supporter of Paul’s wanted to inspect the voting machines at one precinct. Voting machine reviews must happen before Election Day, and the person was escorted out by the sheriff of the precinct, Johnson said. Paul’s supporters currently are exit polling outside of some precincts but Johnson, who has endorsed Grayson, said he hadn’t been to that precinct to see if they were doing anything improper.

David Adams, Paul’s campaign manger, said he was made aware of complaints relating to “people portraying themselves as supporters of Rand.”

“I’m dubious about whether it’s really Rand Paul supporters doing this,” he said.

Adams said the campaign has provided letters to supporters to conduct exit polling outside of precincts.

“We are confident we are operating within law,” he said.

The Board of Elections received calls from multiple precincts in Jackson County that people wanted to observe the voting process, but only certified challengers can serve that function, Fugate said. “Voters have claimed intimidation,” Fugate had written earlier in the morning on the Secretary of State’s Twitter account, which has chronicled complaints and incidents all morning.

When asked whether the people were affiliated with any campaign, Fugate said they had identified themselves as being with Paul’s.

Fugate said the Board of Elections has received numerous calls about campaign supporters of dozens of candidates electioneering too close to the polling sites. The law bars electioneering within 300 feet of a voting precinct.

- Ryan Alessi


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