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Frankfort Local News

Conway, Grimes Team Up to Prevent Voter Fraud

Kentucky officials are once again planning to crack down on voter fraud in the May 22 primary.

Attorney General Jack Conway and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced their partnership on the issue Tuesday, giving details of this year’s Election Integrity Task Force.

The task force investigates allegations of fraud. Some allegations come from state investigators, but many come from voters.

Conway’s office operates a voter fraud hotline for residents to report potential fraud on Election Day. Concerns before the polls open can be addressed to county clerks or to Grimes through the state Board of Elections.

Representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s office are also helping investigate fraud claims this year, since there are federal races on the ballot. There were six calls to Conway’s hotline on primary day last year. In 2008, 59 calls were fielded.

 

 

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Frankfort Local News

Senate Passes Bill Aimed at Reducing Costs of Uncontested Special Elections

Lawmakers in both chambers have passed a bill aimed at reducing the cost of uncontested special legislative elections. Kentucky House lawmakers passed the measure weeks ago, while it passed the Senate today.

The bill was proposed by Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes to help cut costs to her office and county clerks.

State Senator Damon Thayer says the bill will cut back on the multiple voting locations which are currently required by law when there’s only one election and one candidate on the ballot. The bill won’t affect elections where multiple candidates are running.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Grimes Visits Counties Hit By Tornadoes

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is traveling to through counties in eastern Kentucky hit by severe weather to deliver supplies and assist with the relief effort.

Grimes is being accompanied by a group that includes the director of the state board of elections and business filings, who are meeting with county clerks and business owners to assess damage and formulate a plan to help in the long-term recovery.

The secretary of state says they are evaluating how to best assist area businesses in reopening their doors, ensure that our county clerks are prepared for upcoming elections and help restore school systems.

“Right now, we must ensure that citizens who were impacted by last Friday’s tornadoes have the essentials—food, shelter, clothing—available to them,” said Grimes. “But we are also mindful that assistance will be needed well into the future, as affected Kentuckians work to rebuild their lives.

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Frankfort Local News

Bill to Reduce Costs of Uncontested Special Elections Clears Committee

Changes to Kentucky’s special elections procedures could be imminent.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is supporting a bill to reduce the number of polling places for uncontested special elections for legislative seats.

Grimes says the change will save money for her office, county clerks and taxpayers.

“This means that if an uncontested special election is to occur that the voting doesn’t have to occur at the numerous precincts through the county but rather at one location or locations designated by the county Board of Elections,” Grimes said.

Grimes cites the recent election of state Representative Regina Bunch as an example. Bunch ran unopposed to fill the unexpired term of her injured husband, Dewayne. Despite that, it cost $47,000 to open all voting precincts in Bunch’s district.

Grimes’s bill passed a House committee unanimously this morning.

 

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Frankfort Local News

Republicans Follow Through With Lawsuit Over House Redistricting Map

Several Kentucky House Republican shave followed through on their threats to file a legal challenge to new legislative district lines.

The Republicans filed the lawsuit and request for an injunction in Franklin County Circuit Court today. And because of the injunction request, they will go before Judge Phillip Sheppard on Monday morning.

“We have been saying for a couple of weeks now that not only was it unfair to the people of Kentucky,” says House Republican Leader Jeff Hoover. “Not only did it disenfranchise a lot of folks in Kentucky, but it was unconstitutional and that is the basis of the lawsuit. It violates section 33 of the constitution.”

The suit also includes Republican state Representatives Kim King and Joe Fischer.  It was filed against Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the state’s chief elections officer, because the lawmakers hope to delay elections for the new districts.

And Fischer, who has filed three previous lawsuits against redistricting in decades past, says this case is the strongest he’s ever had.

“So we’ve got division of fewest counties, one person one vote and the contiguous argument that we didn’t have in my lawsuit [in the 1990s],” Fischer said. “So I look for this to be a very strong argument to the court.”

It is unclear whether Senate Democrats will join the lawsuit. House Speaker Greg Stumbo has defended the House map as constitutional.

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Frankfort Local News

New Constitutional Officers Make Their Cases On Beshear’s Proposed Budget Cuts

Kentucky’s newest constitutional officers are fearing the results of the latest proposed budget cuts.

Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Auditor Adam Edelen and Agriculture Commissioner James Comer all testified before a budget subcommittee today. All three are facing 8.4 percent budget cuts. Grimes and Comer asked the committee to reconsider cuts to their offices to prevent any disruption of public services.

But Edelen took a different route in his testimony. Instead of asking for more money, Edelen said his office will make due with its cuts.

“The auditor’s office will do what it always does and we will continue to lead by example,” he said. “Certainly we don’t want to see a further retreat beyond the eight and a half percent cut that’s been laid on us. But with that said we will act like the Marines. We will simply improvise and overcome and achieve. Because the people of Kentucky need and deserve that.”

Edelen added that in tough economic times, corruption and misuse of tax dollars are usually more common than they are in good times.

Grimes told the subcommittee today that in order to run her office effectively she will need to take the remaining $500,000 from her office’s restricted account, which holds business and election filing fees, as well as other revenues. Under Governor Steve Beshear’s proposed budget, one million dollars from the fund would go to other offices. After other accounting uses for the fund, Grimes said she needs the remainder to help fund her own budget.

“The Secretary of State respectfully requests that the budget subcommittee increase our restrictive funds spending authority, so that we have access to the revenue that we are generating,” she said. “This is consistent with the General Assembly’s discretion that these funds be used to operate this office.”

Taking from the account isn’t uncommon. But with more than 20 percent cuts in the Secretary of State’s office, Grimes said she needs all of the money.

Agriculture Commissioner James Comer also requested more money from the subcommittee. He said if something isn’t changed with department’s budget, it’s likely that either a cut in programs or employee layoffs will occur.

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Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Grimes Names Communications Staff

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced her communications staff Monday, appointing Lynn Sowards Zellen to serve as her chief spokeswoman.

The Lexington attorney will coordinate office communications, respond to media inquiries and devote attention to legislative initiatives related to the secretary of state’s office. Zellen worked as a business litigation attorney, advocating for clients before courts across the commonwealth, including cases before the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Grimes also named Terrell E. Renfro to be her legislative liaison and Wilda Caudle executive assistant, providing administrative support to the office.

“Effective communication is crucial to fulfilling the duties of the Secretary of State’s office and keeping Kentucky’s citizens informed and engaged,” said Grimes. “Lynn, Terrell, and Wilda share my commitment to accomplishing that function, and I am thankful to have them on board.”