Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced on Tuesday, September 22, 2015 in a press conference at the Louisville League of Women Voters that all eligible Kentuckians will be able to register to vote electronically beginning with the 2016 Presidential election cycle.
“Electronic voter registration levels the playing field, giving all eligible citizens a convenient, secure way to register to vote and update their information,” said Grimes. “I’m proud to lead the charge in passing this bipartisan initiative to break down barriers to the ballot box and increase participation in our elections. We are finally moving our registration process into the 21st century.”
Grimes, the Commonwealth’s chief election official, advocated this year to make electronic voter registration available to all eligible voters. Thanks to her persistence, a new law authorizing electronic voter registration went into effect earlier this month, and the State Board of Elections is in the process of building the system to implement it.
The system will be similar to the online portal already in place for military and overseas voters, which was established on the basis of Grimes’ recommendations to the General Assembly following a trip to the Middle East in 2012. More than 700 voters have used the portal, and it has been praised nationally by voters and local election officials for how easy and convenient it is to use.
“If it can work for our military members in Iraq, it can work for our voters in Inez,” said Grimes. “Our existing portal has been a tremendous success, and I am excited to bring the same accessibility and functionality to all voters in Kentucky.”
“The League of Women Voters is excited about the introduction of electronic voter registration in Kentucky,” said Pat Murrell, president of the Louisville chapter. “This is a pro-voter advancement in our election system, and we are honored to support it.”
Jefferson County Clerk Bobbie Holsclaw has been an ardent supporter of Grimes’ new law. “The new format should speed up the process and ensure a more accurate voter registration process,” said Holsclaw. “This information technology demonstrates how we can make our governmental tasks more efficient.”
In addition to Grimes, all living former Kentucky secretaries of state have endorsed electronic voter registration. The practice was also recommended by the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, a bipartisan task force on which former secretary Trey Grayson served, and is endorsed by the Republican National Lawyers Association and The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Grayson said, “Electronic voter registration systems improve the accuracy of voter rolls and reduce the costs of list maintenance. I am glad to see Kentucky join the growing number of states that are taking advantage of this resource to improve the administration of elections.”
Rep. Darryl Owens (D-Louisville) said, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and once again Secretary Grimes has found it. As always, I am grateful to her for continuing to fight for the rights of all Kentucky voters.” Owens sponsored an electronic voter registration bill in the 2015 session of the General Assembly. When the Senate did not consider the legislation, Grimes shepherded the initiative through the administrative regulation process and it became effective September 4, 2015.
During her first term as Secretary of State, Grimes has successfully sought more than ten bipartisan pieces of legislation – more than any other constitutional officer during the same time frame – to make Kentucky more business friendly and safeguard access to the ballot box.