Secretary of State
Secretary Grimes Gets Order to Protect Military and Overseas Voters
Two weeks after Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes filed a lawsuit in Franklin Circuit Court to ensure that military and overseas voters have sufficient time to receive, fill out, and return absentee ballots in special elections, Judge Phillip J. Shepherd entered an order that will accomplish that goal.
“Regardless of whether it’s a special or regular election, every election matters, and every vote counts,” said Grimes. “Kentuckians who risk their lives on the battlefield must have their voices protected at the ballot box, and I’m relieved that, with the Court’s decision, the rights of our men and women in uniform will not be compromised.”
The Court’s order affects the special elections scheduled for November 6, 2012, to fill vacancies in the Kentucky House, Second District; Kentucky Senate, Nineteenth District; and United States Congress, Fourth Congressional District. With respect to those three elections, Judge Shepherd enjoined enforcement of the candidate filing deadline prescribed by KRS 118.770 and ordered that candidates for those special elections must file their petitions and certificates of nomination no later than 4:00 p.m., EST, on September 10, 2012.
“Kentucky law is not only inconsistent with federal requirements, but it is out of touch with the practical difficulties facing our military and overseas voters,” said Grimes, the Commonwealth’s Chief Election Official. Additionally, “Hundreds of military and overseas voters have already requested absentee ballots for the upcoming elections, and to administer the special elections under the existing law would have cost the counties tens of thousands of dollars. With the county clerks’ cooperation and the Court’s assistance, we were able to protect military and overseas voters, save our counties money, and avoid voter confusion.”
The order will enable county clerks to send absentee ballots to military and overseas voters at least 45 days before they must be returned, ensuring that those voters will have adequate time to receive, vote, and return their absentee ballots. It also achieves consistency with the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Voting Act, which requires that absentee ballots in federal elections be transmitted at least 45 days in advance.
Grimes worked closely with county clerks in her effort to protect the rights of military and overseas citizens. Bobbie Holsclaw, Jefferson County Clerk, and Patricia Hieneman, Greenup County Clerk, intervened in the lawsuit. Kenny Brown, Boone County Clerk; Jeff Jerrell, McCracken County Clerk; and Gabrielle Summe, Kenton County Clerk, submitted affidavits supporting the Court’s action. Each of the 27 affected county clerks also consented to the Judge’s order.
Grimes is currently working with Rep. Darryl Owens, Chair of the Elections, Constitutional Amendments and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee, on legislation for the 2013 session to address the issues raised in this lawsuit.
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