Secretary of State
Kentucky Soldiers and Citizens Overseas Have New Services to Expedite Voting
(Frankfort, KY) Kentucky soldiers and other citizens overseas now have more tools at their fingertips to make the elections process more effective and efficient, according to an announcement by Secretary of State Trey Grayson, Chairman of the State Board of Elections. The services include a new, easy-to-understand website dedicated solely to overseas voters as well as an automated ballot delivery program which will shorten the transit time to get ballots back to Kentucky in time to be counted on Election Day.
“Our soldiers and citizens overseas deserve a quick and understandable process to cast their ballots, and these new initiatives will help ensure that these important citizens’ votes are properly cast and counted,” said Secretary Grayson. “It is especially poignant that we announce this program on the seventh anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks on our country. We must do all that we can to preserve the voting rights of those citizens who are bravely fighting the war on terror and defending our country.”
The new website, which can be accessed at www.elect.ky.gov, enables Kentucky to provide state-of-the-art, interactive voter registration services for a formerly manual and error-prone process at a fraction of the cost, saving taxpayer money, and ensuring overseas and military voters improved access. Since its launch in late July, nearly 400 people have used the site from over 29 countries and territories.
The JEHT Foundation has granted development support to the Overseas Vote Foundation (OVF) to reduce customization and licensing fees of the site for several states, including Kentucky. The nonprofit, nonpartisan charitable organization, OVF, which oversaw the development of the site, was founded in 2005 to assist uniformed and overseas American citizens in registering to vote in federal elections and has become a leader in online voter services for UOCAVA voters. The Pew Charitable Trusts “Make Voting Work” program provided grant support to OVF to develop the 2008 voter services that are now being customized for states.
The second initiative, the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) Automated Ballot Delivery Program, provides voters with greater access to timely and accurate absentee voting information. An electronic alternative to the by-mail process, the program is designed to expedite the absentee voting process and facilitate communication between local election offices and voters overseas.
Kentucky overseas voters may elect to use the feature to send a completed, signed, and scanned Registration and Ballot Request Form to their local election office and receive their blank ballot online via a secure server. The tool uses a multi-layer approach to security which ensures that a voter’s personal information is not viewed by anyone except the intended recipient. These advancements will provide military and overseas voters an easier way to register and request absentee ballots, as well as another alternative to the by-mail process of absentee voting, all without sacrificing the security of the voter’s identity.
“The elections process for our soldiers and citizens overseas in many jurisdictions is slow and complicated, but Kentucky’s citizens can be excited that we have an excellent program in place to help votes from our overseas citizens count,” commented Grayson.
Grayson and the State Board of Elections have taken other steps to improve voting access for these citizens. In 2007, the SBE passed a regulation to allow voters overseas to cast a write-in ballot for a potential gubernatorial run off election. Luckily, the run-off election was not needed and Grayson successfully advocated for the repeal of the runoff law so that Kentucky’s overseas citizens would not be disenfranchised in a future run-off election process. In addition, similar concepts to the FVAP Automated Delivery Program were adopted during previous elections to assist voters.
Grayson’s office also created the popular “Vote in Honor of a Veteran” program where more than 25,000 Kentuckians wore buttons leading up to and on Election Day to honor a veteran with their vote. To find out more information about this program, please visit: www.sos.ky.gov/vets.
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