Elections

A Republican-led push to use college IDs to vote in Tennessee was held up on the floor of the state Senate Thursday, as a disagreement has broken out between GOP lawmakers over the issue.

The legislation comes from a Rutherford County lawmaker, home to the largest undergraduate student body in the state. And while Senator Bill Ketron refused to accept student IDs when the law was passed two years ago, he’s now had a change of heart.

Senator Stacy Campfield of Knoxville has not.

“You know, I hate to say it, but possibly in my younger days I may have known a person or two who had a falsified college ID,” said Campfield.

Kentucky Senate Approves Electronic Voting Bill That Requires Snail Mail Returns

Feb 27, 2013
Kentucky LRC

The state Senate has passed a bill that allows Kentucky military personnel to register to vote and receive ballots electronically—but they'll have to use snail mail to send the ballots back.

Senate President Robert Stivers would allow deployed citizens to register to vote and receive their ballots electronically.

Initially, a floor amendment to the bill would have allowed the military members to return the ballots electronically, but the amendment was withdrawn by sponsor Sen. Kathy Stein, a Lexington Democrat.

Stein said she thinks the state House will reinsert that provision into the bill.

Kentucky military personnel could get their election ballots electronically—but the ballots would have to be printed and returned to county clerks via snail mail, under changes made to a bill Thursday in a state Senate committee meeting.

The bill—a priority for Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes—originally called for military personnel to be able to get and return ballots electronically.

Senate President Robert Stivers, the bill's sponsor, said concerns for the security of completed ballots returned electronically led him to amend it.

The bill, as amended, advanced Thursday through the Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection committee to the senate floor.

Kentucky's governor and other statewide constitutional officers would be elected in the same year as presidential elections under a bill approved Wednesday in a state Senate committee.

Without a change, statewide constitutional officers—including the secretary of state, state auditor and others—would be next up for election in 2015.

Under Senate Bill 55, those elections would move to 2016.

Those elected positions  will keep four-year terms, sticking with the presidential cycle. To do this, the bill extend the terms of the current officeholders by one year until the end of 2016.

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.

A new report shows nearly a quarter-million Kentuckians are denied access to voting booths because of felony convictions.

The report released Tuesday by the League of Women Voters of Kentucky says the state has the third highest rate of people who lost their voting rights despite completing felony sentences. Among blacks, Kentucky has the second highest disenfranchisement rate.

The report says one of every 14 adults in Kentucky is ineligible to vote due to a felony conviction, well above the national rate.

It says Kentucky is one of four states that permanently disenfranchise all felons, even after they complete their sentences.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes says she wants to make it easier for the state's military personnel to participate in elections. But a major provision is coming under fire from some groups that worry that allowing ballots cast online opens voters to fraud.

The Courier-Journal reports that the chairman of Common Cause of Kentucky delivered a letter to Grimes’ office Wednesday. The letter said the group "strongly recommend against allowing ballots to be cast online via email, efax, or through Internet portals.”

Both supporters and opponents of Tennessee’s voter ID law are pointing to newly released statewide data to bolster their positions. Nearly four out of five provisional ballots cast in the Volunteer State last November were tossed out.

The Republican-backed voter ID law was passed in 2011. Supporters say it’s an effort to ensure voter integrity and prevent election fraud. Opponents say it’s an attempt to suppress voting among traditional Democratic constituencies, including the urban poor who sometimes don’t have a government-issued photo ID.

Under the Tennessee law, those who experience trouble at the polls on Election Day are allowed to cast a provisional ballot which will be counted later if election officials determine the person casting the ballot is a legitimate voter. According to the data released this week, a little over 1,600—or 23%--of the more than 7,000 provisional ballots cast in Tennessee last November were ultimately counted.

A Nashville civil rights lawyer told The Tennessean those numbers show some voters were disenfranchised.

Kentucky to Explore Early Voting

Dec 20, 2012

Kentucky's secretary of state is planning to explore whether the state should permit early voting.

Alison Lundergan Grimes said in a news release she plans to hold meetings statewide next year to discuss whether Kentucky should change its election laws to allow early and unexcused absentee voting.

Grimes says 32 states and the District of Columbia allow such types of voting.

The dates of the meetings will be released in January.

Republican state Rep. Sara Beth Gregory has won a special election for a Senate seat from southern Kentucky, defeating Williamsburg teacher and Democrat Bill Conn by more than a 4-1 margin to replace former Sen. David Williams.

In unofficial returns from Tuesday's balloting, Gregory received 6,244 votes to 1,440 for Conn, who was making his first run for public office.

The heavily Republican 16th District includes Clinton, Cumberland, McCreary, Monroe, Wayne and Whitley counties, along the southern Kentucky border. Gregory, an attorney, was elected last year to represent the 52nd House District that covers McCreary and Wayne counties and part of Pulaski County and won a second term on Nov. 6.

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