Secretary of State
Grayson Ends Tenure, Leaving Legacy of Efficiency, Productivity, and Civility
(Frankfort, KY) At Noon on Saturday, the administration of Secretary of State Trey Grayson will come to an end. The moment will mark the end of one of the most successful tenures for a Secretary of State in the Commonwealth’s history. During Grayson’s tenure in office, Kentucky’s Office of the Secretary of State quickly became a national leader in elections, civics, business services, and government innovation.
“We are certainly leaving a great foundation for future success for this agency,” remarked Grayson. “I am humbled that the citizens of Kentucky placed their trust in me to deliver effective and efficient leadership in Frankfort. I hope we have blazed a path for a brighter future for the Commonwealth.”
Grayson’s tenure was marked with improvement in all areas of the office, including significant upgrades in technology, a hallmark of the administration. The Office’s website received several international awards for outstanding government websites. The Office launched over twenty new online services for citizens, including online certificates and the recent addition of the ability to start a business online. During Grayson’s tenure, the average time to incorporate a business in Kentucky was reduced by over a week to a matter of minutes via FastTrack filings. The Office is currently testing this technology to allow foreign (i.e. non-Kentucky) corporations to file online and should launch the new service in a couple of months. In addition, Grayson’s administration increased online adoption rates for some services from less than 10% to over 50%.
Grayson worked with both Democrats and Republicans in the legislature to introduce and pass several legislative packages, including several focused on bringing Kentucky business entity laws into the 21st Century and improving the elections process. During Grayson’s tenure, he helped advocate for the repeal of taxpayer funded political campaigns and the gubernatorial run-off, both of which wasted millions of taxpayer dollars. Kentucky’s business and election laws are more cohesive, reflective of current case law, and understandable for the average Kentuckian.
The Office became the first agency in Kentucky to post its “checkbook” online and become a model for transparency in the state. At the conclusion of the administration, over seven million images, ranging from corporate documents to original land patents, are now available online. Historians have praised the Office for making full-color images of the state’s original land patents available, making the Office a leader in this area nationally. Grayson also placed the Governor’s Executive Journal online so that citizens had immediate access to actions their government was taking.
In addition, the Office launched several notification services that allow citizens to receive automatic information when certain actions are taken with regards to the Governor’s Executive Journal, enacted legislation, election and business filings, among others. Most documents filed with the Office are made available in near real time. Citizens can also track summonses that are processed through the Office via an online database.
The fruits of these labors will be felt for years. In the next year to 18 months, it is anticipated that all business documents filed in the modern era will be available online. The Office recently launched a new service which has reduced the reinstatement process for businesses, down from nearly two weeks to less than one day by partnering with the departments of Revenue and Unemployment Insurance. This kind of partnership is an example of the successes that agencies can have in future endeavors, such as one-stop business filings that are being considered currently by the General Assembly.
The Office has also transformed into a customer focused agency, not only through technology and accessibility but through our staff and document turnaround times. Documents are typically filed the day they are received by the Office. In addition, Grayson created a customer service center which has not only reduced wait times for those individuals calling into the Office but has also helped to make it one of the most friendly and inviting government offices with which to interact in the state.
Grayson helped revolutionize the elections process in Kentucky, introducing the Voter Information Center, which allows citizens to check their voter registration status online. That particular innovation set Kentucky out as a national leader in election innovation. In addition, Grayson led the charge to clean Kentucky’s voter rolls through a variety of techniques. One such technique, which was unsuccessfully challenged in court in 2006, has gone on to become a model way to maintain accurate voter rolls in the country by comparing data with other states and removing those voters who have left the state. During his tenure, his annual voter integrity team with the Attorney General’s Office and U.S. Attorney’s Office led to dozens of indictments and convictions for voter fraud. Grayson was also the first Secretary of State in the country to utilize social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to reach voters with valuable voting information and to obtain information about voting issues across the Commonwealth.
Grayson also made it easier for Kentuckians to vote. During his tenure, Kentucky introduced voting equipment at every precinct for voters with disabilities. Via his position as Chairman of the State Board of Elections, he also passed several regulations making it easier for military citizens overseas to vote. Kentucky has also moved to have voter-verifiable voting systems in most counties in the Commonwealth, with over 75% of Kentuckians voting on digital-scan voting systems in the general election of 2010.
A top priority for Grayson entering his administration was to make the Office of the Secretary of State the leading voice for civics education and engagement. His Office has produced an “Agenda for Action” for policy makers to increase the civic engagement of Kentucky’s youth. Many of those recommendations have already been started or are complete. Grayson is delighted that all four candidates running for Secretary of State in this year’s election have made civics education a plank in their platform.
All of these accomplishments come in spite of deep budget cuts to the Office. During the last full fiscal year of Grayson’s administration, the Office operated from a budget 15% less than the one he inherited when he was sworn-in.
These, as well as countless other accomplishments, led to his Secretary of State colleagues around the country choosing him to serve as the President of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS). He was the first Kentuckian ever elected to this prestigious position. Via his leadership positions in NASS, Secretary Grayson became a national expert on the presidential primary calendar and outspoken advocate for presidential primary reform.
“I believe that we have shown you can work across party lines to bring civility and results back to government and deliver strong success for the people of Kentucky. Kentuckians deserve that from their elected leaders and government officials” said Grayson. “I hope that my example will inspire others to take similar approaches so that we can tear down artificial walls that separate us as Kentuckians.”