Giving Kentucky service members and their spouses the ability to cast absentee ballots electronically is the priority of the Kentucky State Senate heading into the 2013 legislative session, Senate President-elect Robert Stivers said on Monday.
Stivers says he’s taking recommendations from Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes to allow electronic voting for overseas military personnel.The measure will be Senate Bill 1 — the title that usually goes to the chamber’s chief legislative priority every year. And Stivers says that if the legislation can be written in time, the Senate plans to pass it completely by the end of the session’s first week.“If we can get the final drafts done and proceed, we hope to introduce it this week and if we can introduce it have at least preliminary hearings, if not a total hearing and have it either prepared to pass this week or upon our return,” he says.Lawmakers convene Tuesday for four days to handle organizational matters, before adjourning until Feb. 5.Grimes says the current process, where county clerks can e-mail a ballot but a overseas voter has to return it by paper, is expensive and unfair — because it requires dedicated military and state resources to secure it. Allowing electronic voting would allow for an easier transition after the ballot is marked. Grimes devised the proposal after visiting service members in the Middle East last year. Grimes says the bill would address only absentee-style voting, but current provisions allow overseas citizens extra time.“My hope is that these recommendations concern only absentee voting by our military and overseas personnel, there is no different time period that we are talking about,” Grimes says.If the measure passes, Grimes says her office will apply for federal grants to help pay for any necessary expenses.Stivers says he will be the primary sponsor of the bill and that Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer and Sen. Jimmy Higdon will likely be co-sponsors.