The1st meeting of the Elections, Constitutional Amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs Task Force of the Interim Joint Committee on State Government was held on Tuesday, June 24, 2003, at 1:00 PM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Adrian Arnold, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Alice Kerr, Co-Chair; Representative Adrian Arnold, Co-Chair; Senators Tom Buford, Ernie Harris, David K. Karem, Albert Robinson, and Elizabeth Tori; Representatives Perry Clark, Joseph Fischer, J. R. Gray, Mike Harmon, Charlie Hoffman, and Mary Lou Marzian.
Guests: John Y. Brown III, Secretary of State; Mary Sue Helm, Sarah Ball Johnson and George Russell, State Board of Elections.
LRC Staff: Laura Hendrix, Jim Roberts and Terisa Roland.
Chairman Arnold stated that the Task Force had been approved to meet the fourth Tuesday of each month for the 2003 interim.
Chairman Arnold also said that after the 2002 presidential election, there was concern as to how Americans voted and how votes were counted. In response, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) which was discussed during the last session. Secretary John Y. Brown III, and Mary Sue Helm, Sarah Ball Johnson and George Russell with the Board of Elections presented information on the implementation of HAVA.
Secretary Brown said progress had been made on HAVA implementation since the committee was last addressed. Under HAVA, a State Advisory Committee had to be assembled, and Kentucky's is comprised of 23 individuals who are all stakeholders in the field of election administration. Kentucky's State Plan for the implementation of HAVA has been created by the State Board of Elections, Secretary of State's Office, and this Advisory Committee. The state plan outlines how Kentucky will spend whatever HAVA monies are received from the federal government.
Mary Sue Helm discussed the State Advisory Committee, emphasizing that many county clerks are involved in this committee. The advisory committee held four meetings and one public hearing on the proposed state plan. Kentucky is in better shape than most states as relates to HAVA requirements, and meets two out of the three main requirements of the federal law. One of the HAVA requirements imposes provisional voting. This would permit a voter, who does not appear on the voter roll for that precinct or whose right to vote is challenged, to vote a provisional or contingent ballot. The voter's eligibility would then be checked and if the voter was eligible, the vote would then be counted. A discussion ensued about whether the current voter registration rolls were up to date. Ms Helm stated that the State Board of Elections receives death information from the Department of Vital Statistics in order to update the voter rolls, but this information transfer has been running about 4 months behind.
George Russell said the draft State Plan is short, simple and flexible and addresses 13 questions that are required under HAVA. $11.7 million is designated this fiscal year for Kentucky as soon as the State Plan is submitted. The most important and costly requirement is that Kentucky must have disabled-accessible voting equipment at each polling location. All monies will be audited and the Justice Department, along with a new federal agency, the Election Assistance Commission, will oversee the implementation of this legislation.
Sarah Ball Johnson said there also must be machines that allow voters to correct and change their votes before they hit the 'cast vote' button in order to comply with HAVA. Additionally, all voting systems must be able to produce a paper audit trail of the votes cast in case of a recount proceeding. Kentucky does not yet meet that standard. Also, there must be a uniform definition of what constitutes a vote, which Kentucky does not have. The Bush v. Gore decision stipulated that every state should have one. Provisional voting must be in place by January 1, 2004. Kentucky does not have a procedure for provisional voting.
Chairman Arnold asked what happens if the state will not comply with the HAVA. Mr. Russell said it is federal law. Whether or not the federal money is accepted, the law must be implemented and the Department of Justice will enforce the legislation.
Senator Kerr stated she would be interested in taking up the issue of the delay in receiving the death certificate information needed for updating the voting rolls. Senator Kerr made a motion to send a letter from the Task Force urging the Vital Statistics Department to expedite their transmission of death certificate records as required under KRS 116.113 in order to assure accurate voter registration information for the upcoming election. The motion was seconded by Senator Robinson and passed by voice vote.
Senator Kerr stated that the next meeting date would be August 26, 2003. There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 2:30 PM.