Secretary of State
Secretary of State Grimes Backs Military Returning Ballots Via Email
Following her Middle East military voting trip, on September 19, 2012, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes released her Military Matters: Protecting the Rights of Those Who Protect Us assessment with recommendations for improving military members’ access to the polls. One of Grimes’ priorities is allowing military voters to return executed ballots via email. Senate President David Williams announced that Grimes’ initiatives will be Senate Bill 1 in 2013, and House Speaker Greg Stumbo assured that each of Secretary Grimes’ proposals will be well-received by the General Assembly.
“I am encouraged by the great care taken by the armed services to ensure the safe delivery of ballots and efforts to encourage participation, but 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.”
Most recently, Grimes traveled to Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain with a group of four other secretaries of state selected by the United States Department of Defense. The mission allowed Grimes to visit with military members in the field, thank them personally for their selfless service to our nation and evaluate the status of military and overseas voting.
Upon her return from the Middle East, Grimes continued her assessment of military voting procedures, conducting roundtable discussions with Major General Jefforey A. Smith, Commanding General at Fort Knox, Major General James C. McConville, Commanding General at Fort Campbell, and voting assistance officers at each base.
Grimes said, “I heard repeatedly from the soldiers I met that increased automation and consistency in voting laws is needed to ensure that military members have the opportunity to cast a ballot that will be counted.” 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.
Col. David Thompson, Executive Director of the Kentucky Department of Military Affairs; Sen. Joey Pendleton; Rep. Tanya Pullin; and Rep. Darryl Owens were on-hand for the release of Grimes’ assessment and recommendations. Veronica Oden, whose husband, Master Sergeant Willie B. Oden, Grimes met in Kuwait; and Susan Arnett Switzer, whose brother, Captain Sam Arnett, Grimes met in Kuwait, were also in attendance.
“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. We must show our appreciation for these heroes by strengthening their right to vote, fighting for those who fight for us. I encourage all Kentuckians to vote on November 6th in honor of our veterans and service men and women.”
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