Kentucky's Senate Bill One Ensures Voting Rights of Soldiers Overseas

Feb 15, 2013

Senate President Robert Stivers kept a pledge Friday by sponsoring legislation aimed at ensuring Kentucky soldiers deployed overseas can cast their ballots back home through an electronic transmission system that the secretary of state will be required to develop.

The bill was given the designation "Senate Bill 1," signifying it is the Senate's top priority in the legislative session.

Secretary of State Alison Grimes, who backs the legislation, said 121 soldiers from Kentucky didn't have their ballots counted in last year's election because they didn't arrive back in the state by Election Day.

The biggest proposed change is that soldiers would no longer have to rely on traditional mail to return their ballots. The bill also would allow late ballots to be counted as long as they're back in the state before elections are certified, which happens three days after Election Day.

Grimes reviewed military voting procedures during a trip to the Middle East in September, concluding that the current system is falling short.

"I'm encouraged that the Senate agrees with me that Kentucky's military voices matter," Grimes said.

Grimes said the bill doesn't include all the provisions that she had pushed for.

Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, said the bill also protects the integrity of elections and the anonymity of voters.

That it's being championed by political leaders from different parties is also noteworthy in Frankfort.

Stivers said he volunteered to sponsor the bill on behalf of Grimes in part to set a more cooperative tone.

"It is an example of bipartisan work and how two people of opposite parties do not necessarily have to be on opposite sides," he said.