When Secretary of State Alison Grimes proposed ways to allow military personnel stationed outside of Kentucky to cast absentee ballots more easily and quickly, nearly everyone said it was a good idea.
But concerns about the integrity of emailed absentee ballots and allowing such ballots to be counted, even if they arrived a couple of days late, have led to different bills in the Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic-controlled House.
Richard Beliles of Common Cause of Kentucky believes it would be relatively easy to hack into those emails and change votes, and many county clerks – just how many is in dispute – raised similar concerns.
So Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, sponsored the bill but altered Grimes’ proposal by removing the email and extra time provisions. The bill passed easily in that chamber.
But Monday the House re-inserted the electronic transmission of ballots and an extra 48 hours beyond 6 p.m. on Election Day during which ballots can be counted.
Speaker Greg Stumbo, D-Prestonsburg, an ally of Grimes, asked the House to remember in the 2012 election 300 absentee ballots from military personnel were not counted because they were received after 6 p.m. on Election Day.
The amended version passed the House 57-42, largely on party lines, and not without debate.
Several Republican representatives said there is no way to guarantee the secrecy of emailed ballots and that Section 147 requires all elections in Kentucky be by secret ballot.
Rep. Tim Moore, R-Elizabethtown, who served in the military overseas, said he was in charge of mail delivery during his time in the service and it receives the highest priority. He said it shouldn’t often be a problem getting the ballots back by Election Day.
Rep. Tim Couch, R-Hyden, again raised the objections of some county clerks, specifically his own, Leslie County Clerk James Lewis, about the integrity of emailed ballots and allowing them to be counted after Election Day.