Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced today that she will hold Election Advisory meetings throughout the state in 2013 to review and recommend improvements to Kentucky’s election laws. Grimes, Kentucky’s Chief Election Official and Chair of the State Board of Elections, has requested the public as well as election administrators, elected officials, political parties, and representatives of voting rights groups join the conversation.

“Kentucky historically has excellent cooperation among the Secretary of State, Attorney General, election administrators, and law enforcement officers,” said Grimes, “and I am proud of the steps my office took this year to expand our efforts to ensure the integrity of our elections. But I am concerned that the very voices we’re protecting don’t have a seat at the table, so I decided to set a new table to explore the effectiveness of Kentucky’s current voting laws and procedures.”

In September, following a trip to the Middle East where she met with soldiers and reviewed military voting procedures, Grimes issued five recommendations to improve military access to the polls. Those recommendations received bipartisan support and will be considered by the General Assembly in January 2013. In October, Grimes expanded the Election Integrity Task Force to include local, state and federal election and law enforcement officials. Throughout the year, Grimes and her staff have worked with county clerks and offered training to local election administrators and precinct election officers.

Now, following the presidential election, Grimes will hold Election Advisory meetings to review Kentucky’s election laws and consider their effectiveness in maintaining free and fair elections. “32 states and the District of Columbia permit early voting and/or unexcused absentee voting,” said Grimes, “and we will discuss in the meetings whether Kentucky should do the same as a way of increasing voter participation.” Meeting attendees will also explore such areas as voter registration, absentee voting and voting procedures.

Voting rights groups are supportive of Grimes’ efforts. AARP Kentucky State Director Ron Bridges said, “The Election Advisory meetings are the first initiative in this state to unite Kentuckians to improve elections, and we look forward to taking part in the discussions.” The League of Women Voters of Kentucky shared those sentiments: “We welcome the opportunity to participate in these conversations exploring ways Kentucky can better protect the right to vote,” said spokesperson Cindy Heine.

The dates of the meetings will be released in January 2013. Upon completion, Grimes will compile the feedback and, if needed, make necessary legislative and regulatory recommendations. “Elections are the foundation of our democracy,” said Grimes. “By providing a forum to evaluate Kentucky’s election laws and including the public and voting rights groups, we can ensure every eligible Kentuckian has the chance to be meaningfully involved in our elections.”

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