elections

Vote Buying: Still Happening In Kentucky

Aug 19, 2016
Thinkstock

Three weeks before primary election day in 1987, the fixer crammed cases of beer into the back of his car and threw a party behind his house in eastern Kentucky. His purpose: to lock up the votes of the 30 or so men and women who attended.

Another day, the fixer went looking for a hunting and fishing crony who could be counted on to haul voters to the polls. To seal the deal, the fixer stuck a $50 bill into his pal’s shirt pocket.

As a reporter for The Courier-Journal newspaper, I shadowed the fixer for a month leading up to the May 1987 primary. He asked that I keep his actual identity confidential. He called himself “the mailman.”

“I deliver,” he explained.

Kentucky House Approves Early Voting Bill

Mar 15, 2016
Creative Commons

A bill aimed at boosting voter turnout in Kentucky by allowing early voting without an excuse has been passed by the state House despite some lawmakers’ concerns about strapping county clerks with extra costs.

The measure cleared the House on a 57-37 vote Monday. It now goes to the Senate, where it could face an uphill fight. Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is a leading supporter of the bill.

The legislation would allow early voting by any Kentucky registered voter at least 12 working days leading up to the Sunday before Election Day. The early voting period would include two Saturdays.

Grimes has said the majority of counties now offer absentee voting on Saturday.

The bill’s opponents said expanded early voting would be a burden for county clerks with small staffs.

Health Care, Economy Focus Of Paul’s Town Hall Events

Feb 15, 2016
Ashley Lopez, WFPL

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul says he will help Gov. Matt Bevin get a waiver from the federal government this summer to begin charging Medicaid recipients for their health insurance.

That will be part of Paul’s message this week as he visits 18 Kentucky cities in four days, his first major trip in the Commonwealth since ending his presidential campaign.

The town hall-style events begin in Scottsville on Tuesday and end in Radcliff on Saturday. Paul has had similar trips in recent months, but this time he won’t be dogged by questions about his other campaign.

Paul is favored to again win the Republican nomination, where he could face Democrat Jim Gray in the fall. The Lexington mayor is the most well-known of the seven Democrats vying for the nomination.

Paul may also discuss the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and the increasingly charged political debate about how to replace him on the court.

In Thursday night's Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders — each with one nominating contest victory — looked ahead to the upcoming primaries in Nevada and South Carolina. Here are a few of the big takeaways from the debate.

1. A focus on African-American issues

Tuesday night's New Hampshire primary offered little surprise in terms of who actually won: Donald Trump triumphed big on the GOP side, while Bernie Sanders crushed Hillary Clinton with Democratic voters, just as polls had predicted.

As statewide political races go, the 2015 general election campaign in Kentucky has lacked the exciting moments or game-changing controversies that grab voters’ attention, political observers say.

Republican Matt Bevin and Democrat Jack Conway spent Monday campaigning throughout the state in last-minute bids to drum up support. Some local elections officials are expecting turnout in the 40 percent range. Others are expecting much less.

Kentucky leads the nation in smoking, and how the state goes about addressing that distinction will rest in part with the next governor.

A handful of state legislators have pushed, in vain, in recent years to for a statewide ban on smoking in public indoor places. Critics, however, say the law would infringe on the rights of individuals.

It was probably only a matter of time before we got the live-streamed campaign.

With Periscope, Vine and Snapchat, candidates have seized on new apps this cycle to produce behind-the-scenes, unfiltered moments and deliver them to voters.

On Tuesday, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul took the trend to its inevitable conclusion and broadcast the bulk of his day on the Iowa campaign trail on the Internet.

Kentucky voters may be able to register to vote and update their information online during next year’s presidential election.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced in Louisville Tuesday that her office will be extending online registration to all eligible voters in the state. The service is currently only available to military voters.

Grimes had advocated for a bill earlier this year creating online registration, but it didn’t pass through the Republican-controlled state Senate.

Grimes instead went through the state’s administrative regulation process, and now the program is effective law.

“Kentucky can’t wait any longer,” Grimes said. “We are finally entering the 21st Century as it relates to election administration.”

Owens said he appreciated Grimes’ efforts to get online registration approved in the state.

“This is probably, as far as I am concerned, one of the most monumental events taking place in our commonwealth today because we are now going to ensure that everyone will have an opportunity to register and update their registration electronically,” said state Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville.

Kentucky has received a $2.2 million federal grant to help pay for an electronic system for delivering election ballots to soldiers deployed overseas.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced the grant from the U.S. Department of Defense. Tuesday.

Grimes said the money will help with the cost of an electronic system that could be used in place of U.S. mail to get ballots to military personnel.

Lawmakers approved legislation earlier this year to allow soldiers and civilians living overseas to receive ballots electronically to speed up the process.

The secretary of state's office is in the preliminary stages of developing the system, which is expected to be in place for next year's general election.

Kentucky Republicans are ramping up their campaign to take control of the state house in this year's elections. The GOP has latched on to House Speaker Greg Stumbo's declaration that he will vote for President Barack Obama this fall.

Kentucky's secretary of state is one of a half-dozen from across the country going the Middle East to assist soldiers to vote. The Lexington Herald-Leader says the Federal Voting Assistance Program and the Department of Defense asked Alison Lundergan Grimes to spend two weeks in September traveling in Afghanistan, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to meet with American uniformed soldiers.