The2nd meeting of the Task Force on Elections, Constitutional Amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs of the Interim Joint Committee on State Government was held on Tuesday, July 25, 2006, at 1:00 PM, in Room 129 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Damon Thayer, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Damon Thayer, Co-Chair; Representative Adrian K Arnold, Co-Chair; Senators Alice Forgy Kerr, and Elizabeth Tori; Representatives James E Bruce, Mike Cherry, Joseph M Fischer, J R Gray, Mike Harmon, Melvin B Henley, Mary Lou Marzian, Darryl T Owens, and Jon David Reinhardt.
Guests: Sarah Jackson, Rhonda Farmer-Gray, and Connie Verrill, Kentucky Registry of Election Finance; Sarah Ball Johnson, State Board of Elections; Vince Lang, Kentucky County Judge-Executive Association; Denny Nunnley, Kentucky Association of Counties; Richard Tanner, Kentucky Magistrates and Commissioners Association, and Bill May, Kentucky County Clerks Association.
LRC Staff: Judy Fritz, Erica Warren and Terisa Roland.
Senator Thayer asked for approval of the June 27, 2006 minutes, and they were approved. He said the first item on the agenda was the summary of legislative recommendations from the KREF Advisory Task Force. Senator Thayer introduced Sarah Jackson, Kentucky Registry of Election Finance, to explain the recommendations. (A Final Report booklet was presented to the committee).
Ms. Jackson said Representative Arnold introduced HB 670 during the session and that she and Senator Thayer worked on a similar piece of legislation that did not get filed. She said HB 670 encompasses some but not all of the recommendations set forth by the Task Force.
Ms. Jackson reviewed the recommendations resulting from a 2005 study of Kentucky's campaign finance laws. The Task Force recommended changes to Kentucky's election finance laws. Their goals were to preserve the constitutionally guaranteed right of participation in the political process, provide transparency to the financing of elections, create an equal playing field for all participants, and provide public confidence in the integrity of the political system.
Ms. Jackson said the Task Force's proposals are to simplify the laws - regrouping/reorganizing, bring the laws more in line with federal laws, encourage use of technology advances, and to make law less punitive.
Representative Arnold brought the committee up to date on what the House did in the last session regarding the election candidates.
Next on the agenda was Sarah Ball Johnson, State Board of Elections, to discuss the pay for election day workers (a handout was provided to the committee). Ms. Johnson said there was a bill during the session from Representative Arnold, HB 519, that sought to increase the pay of election day workers from a minimum of $60 to a minimum of $100 a day.
Ms. Johnson explained that precinct workers are actually called precinct election officers and that statutes provide that the top two political parties, democrats and republicans, provide lists of four names per precincts to the county clerk, and the county board of elections. The county board of elections chooses two names from each party to serve as poll workers. She said that some counties don't always supply the list or names on the list cannot serve that day for some reason. Ms. Johnson said it has been proven to be a constant struggle for the county board of elections to find poll workers, four per precinct. She said they have a long day, thirteen hours, with a tremendous amount of legal responsibility. The minimum pay has not been increased for years, so a pay increase is needed.
Vince Lang, Kentucky County Judge-Executive Association discussed election costs as an inadequately funded mandate. He said the cost of elections is born by county governments. The reimbursement is $255 per precinct and the cost to hold an election is about $1200 per precinct per election. Mr. Lang said they agree there needs to be an increase in pay for the poll workers but to also look at the reimbursements that the counties are getting from the state. He said there are statewide elections held three out of four years and that only the state pays the county any money. Mr. Lang said they have requested $1000 per precinct but will still be short per precinct. He said more money is needed to have well run elections in the counties throughout the Commonwealth.
Richard Tanner, Kentucky Magistrates and Commissioners Association stated that their association is more interested in the excess fees, not about the election. He said poll workers need to be recruited instead of nominated. He wants to share the cost with the state because the cost goes up every year.
Denny Nunnley, Kentucky Association of Counties said all the facts have been stated and hopes during the next session the General Assembly will fund this issue.
Bill May, Kentucky County Clerks Association said election day workers are required to attend training sessions and that it is a complicated procedure for new workers. Mr. May said there is a lot of support for the proposal from other county clerks.
Representative Arnold asked if on Election Day only two workers showed up in a precinct, would it be able to operate. Ms. Johnson said there is a statue that says if there are not enough poll workers on Election Day then you recruit from the voters. She said hopefully the county clerk would have some alternates.
Senator Thayer reminded the committee there would be no August meeting. The next scheduled meetings are September 26 and November 28.
Business concluded, and the meeting adjourned at 2:30 p.m.