At a joint press conference today, Senate President-elect Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) announced that Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’ recommendations to improve military access to the polls will be designated Senate Bill 1 in the 2013 regular session of the General Assembly. Stivers is sponsoring the bill, and House Speaker Greg Stumbo previously expressed support for Grimes’ initiative.

In September 2012, Grimes traveled to Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain with other secretaries of state selected by the United States Department of Defense to evaluate the status of military and overseas voting. While in the Middle East, Grimes met with military members in the field, thanked them personally for their service and discussed with them their experiences voting while on active duty.

“While I am encouraged by the great care taken by the armed services to ensure the safe delivery of ballots and efforts to encourage participation, I also have seen firsthand that there remain significant obstacles to military and overseas voting,” said Grimes. “We must do all that we can to preserve the privileges of citizenship that thousands of Kentuckians dedicate their lives to fighting for.”

Upon returning from her trip, Grimes issued five recommendations to improve military and overseas voters’ access to the ballot box: (1) implement online voter registration for uniformed service and overseas voters; (2) provide sufficient time for uniformed service and overseas voters to participate in all elections; (3) permit uniformed service and overseas voters to return executed ballots via email; (4) ensure that all uniformed service and overseas voters’ absentee ballots are counted; and (5) adopt the Uniform Military and Overseas Voting Act.

In announcing the decision to set aside partisanship and designate Grimes’ military voting initiative as Senate Bill 1, Stivers said the bill emphasizes the importance of the democratic process and makes sure that “the people who are protecting those rights, being our military, can voice their opinions by casting a ballot and making sure that it’s done in the easiest, simplest way and that it’s timely counted.”

“Kentucky’s soldiers represent the best of the Commonwealth – duty, honor, sacrifice, pride, and love of freedom,” said Grimes, “and their families make unimaginable sacrifices on behalf of our state and nation. I hope the members of the General Assembly will join me in showing our appreciation for these heroes by passing Senate Bill 1 and strengthening our uniformed men and women’s right to vote.”

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