Secretary of State
Legislation Filed to Repeal the Gubernatorial Runoff Law
(Frankfort, KY) On the day when Kentucky was expected to hold its first runoff election in seventy-five years, legislation was pre-filed to permanently repeal gubernatorial runoff elections. BR 74 was pre-filed by State Senator Damon Thayer (R-Georgetown) for consideration during the 2008 Regular Session. Under current law, another primary election would have been held if no candidate had reached forty percent of the vote in his or her party's primary.
"Taxpayers were nearly forced to pay for an unnecessary election this month,” said Sen. Thayer, Chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee. "It is my intention to post this legislation for action in January at the first meeting of the State and Local Government Committee. The runoff election is bad law and the last remaining provision of taxpayer funding of gubernatorial campaigns to be removed from the law books."
Joining Thayer in urging the repeal of the runoff law was Secretary of State Trey Grayson, the state’s chief election official. Grayson noted that a runoff is not only an expensive ordeal for county governments and taxpayers, but also rarely meets its desired effects. “Turnout in most runoff elections is abysmal which often leads parties to nominate a candidate with fewer votes than the top vote getter in the original primary,” remarked Grayson. “This legislation is something that most, if not all legislators, agreed was bad public policy during the 2007 session.”
Thayer went on to announce that the Senate Democratic Leader, Senator Ed Worley (D-Richmond) will co-sponsor the legislation.
"Eliminating an unnecessary election saves Kentucky's tax payers and county governments millions of dollars," said Senator Ed Worley (D-Richmond). "This legislation has bipartisan support, and I expect it will pass during the 2008 legislative session."
County election officials are also expressing support for BR 74. “We are relieved to be here supporting the pre-filing of this legislation instead of administering an election that would tax our resources and staff,” said Kentucky County Clerks Association President Guy Zeigler, the Franklin County Clerk. “We are encouraged that so many legislators recognize the importance of the legislation and are optimistic that the legislature will address this bill in an expedient manner.”
The runoff election was estimated to cost counties at least five million dollars with the Commonwealth projected to incur other costs. Several county officials testified during the 2007 Session that counties would need to consider cutting back services in order to find the resources to fund the runoff election.
Secretary Grayson and Chairman Thayer have effectively worked to enact other major election reform legislation. In 2005, they successfully advocated for the repeal of taxpayer funded political campaigns, and for the last two regular sessions of the General Assembly, they pushed for the passage of comprehensive campaign finance reform legislation.
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