Secretary of State
Kentucky Recognized for Elections Access for Military Overseas
(Frankfort, KY) Kentucky election officials received excellent news this week, when the Pew Center on the States rated Kentucky as one of 25 states where overseas military voters have sufficient time to cast absentee ballots in state elections. The announcement comes after a year in which Secretary Grayson and the State Board of Elections significantly expanded outreach to overseas and military voters.
“The right of Kentucky military men and women overseas to have their vote counted is a top priority for me and the State Board of Elections,” stated Secretary of State Trey Grayson. “We have worked diligently over the last several years to expand access to our overseas voters. While we appreciate the recognition from Pew, we knew that our efforts were worthwhile after hearing personal testimonies from our soldiers who had the opportunity to cast their votes in this year’s presidential election.”
Prior to the 2008 election, several new services were introduced for Kentucky voters living overseas including a new, easy-to-understand website dedicated solely to overseas voters as well as an automated ballot delivery program. The site, developed by the Overseas Vote Foundation, helped shorten the transit time to get ballots back to Kentucky in time to be counted on Election Day, which was a primary focus of the Pew Center on States Research. The site received nearly 2,000 unique visitors from over 76 countries during the 2008 election cycle.
In addition, Kentucky participated in the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) Automated Ballot Delivery Program, providing 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.
Through the FVAP Program, Kentucky had over 300 election forms completed by voters. In addition, Kentucky represented nearly 50% of all ballots downloaded by voters across the country utilizing the FVAP Program.
This is not the first recognition the Commonwealth of Kentucky has received from the Pew Center on States for election services. Earlier this year, the State Board of Elections website, www.elect.ky.gov, was recognized as one of the top election websites in the country with an overall usability ranking of 11 out of 51 jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia. Particularly noted in the study, Being Online is Not Enough, was Kentucky’s online services on the elections website as well as the ease of finding the elections site on the world wide web. The study encourages Chief Election Officials to not only provide a basic website for voters, but to go further and enhance the usability of websites, particularly for infrequent voters. The report includes useful tips for states to improve their election websites, many of which Kentucky hopes to incorporate further into its site before the 2010 election cycle.
“Kentucky’s elections receive praise because of the hard work of elections official all across this Commonwealth who take the time and invest the funds to make our elections a model for others,” said Grayson. “As we look to the future, I am hopeful that we will continue to have the foresight and financial support to maintain Kentucky’s status as a national leader in election administration.”
Grayson and the State Board of Elections have also 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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