The1st meeting of the Task Force on Elections, Constitutional Amendments, and Intergovernmental Affairs of the Interim Joint Committee on State Government was held on Tuesday, June 26, 2007, at 1:00 PM, in Room 171 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Darryl T. Owens, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members: Representative Darryl T. Owens, Co-Chair; Senators Julian M. Carroll, Carroll Gibson, Alice Forgy Kerr, and Elizabeth Tori; Representatives Mike Cherry, Larry Clark, Joseph M. Fischer, J. R. Gray, Mike Harmon, Melvin B. Henley, Mary Lou Marzian, and Dottie Sims.
Guests: Trey Grayson, Secretary of State; Sarah Ball Johnson, State Board of Elections.
LRC Staff: Judy Fritz, Erica Warren, and Terisa Roland.
Representative Owens called the meeting to order then called upon Trey Grayson, Secretary of State and Sarah Ball Johnson, Executive Director of the State Board of Elections to update the committee on the 2007 Primary, the verified paper audit trial and the way it is being viewed on the federal level, and the distribution of the remainder of HAVA funds.
Secretary Grayson recognized the visiting county clerks at the meeting. He said Senator Thayer announced he was prefiling a bill to repeal the primary run off. Secretary Grayson said several county clerks are in support of the bill. He said the 2007 Primary went smoothly and the turnout was higher than expected. However, his staff will not know the exact turnout level until all the precinct rosters are scanned. He said it was about 21 percent voter turnout.
Secretary Grayson said the State Board of Elections, had fewer calls for this particular primary than others because the county clerks did a good job. He said there were a few polling places that had some mechanical difficulties and poll worker issues. There was special focus on tabulation but it took less time this year because of training and a smaller ballot.
Representative Owens wanted to know about the programming of machines in Bullitt County. Ms. Johnson said the State Board of Elections worked with the county clerk there concerning those issues.
Secretary Grayson talked about federal legislation in the area of voter and paper records. He said HR 811 was sponsored to require that all voting machines used in federal elections be equipped with a more voter verified paper "record" as opposed to paper trail, and that it would be an optical or digital scan. He said another alternative would be to add a printer to the existing DREs. This record would be more than a paper trail or receipt, and audits would be required to be performed based on the closeness of an election. Every state will need to have this in place by the 2008 federal general election, November 2008.
Secretary Grayson said the bill would require that the paper record be more substantive. He stated that the problem is implementing it by 2008, which is impossible. He said there is consensus in general aims of the bill, but that there is a need to have paper records that are voter verified, and there will need to be audits.
Secretary Grayson said that the HAVA Advisory Board had met and discussed the timetable and the $15 million of HAVA funds that will be spent to improve elections in Kentucky. He has talked to county officials around the state so that they know the money is to be used for voting equipment along with the need to add paper records. The HAVA plan was amended for counties to use the money next year. He said under current Kentucky and federal law, there is not a requirement for a voter verified paper record. There will be a meeting with county clerks to discuss this issue.
Representative Sims asked how many different kinds of machines there were in Kentucky. Secretary Grayson said there were four different kinds of machines and two older machines. Representative Owens suggested bringing in the different types of machines to a future meeting. Secretary Grayson said that would be fine.
Representative Harmon asked how the scanners work with a write in ballot. Secretary Grayson said a mark in the circle is made and the name is written on the ballot then the machine reads the name voted for.
Senator Tori asked about the voter verified paper record. She wanted to know how a mistake was corrected. Secretary Grayson said the correction is made by a programmable code on the machine.
Senator Gibson asked if any of the money was allocated to help the county clerks. Secretary Grayson said the money for HAVA can be used one time for expenses.
Senator Gibson asked how much more work for the county clerks would be involved with the paper trail. Ms. Johnson said that is one of the reasons they are having forums is to discuss this issue.
Don Blevins, Fayette County Clerk said this was not an uncomplicated subject. He said with every system, there are advantages and disadvantages. He also suggested bringing the different machines in to be seen. He said there are lots of changes being made with unfunded mandates.
Representative Fischer wanted to know why the optical scanning system was not handicap accessible. Secretary Grayson said the accessible mandate deals with disability issues and they are forced to have two systems under the mandate. He said until the HAVA requirement was enacted the disabled had to have assistance.
Discussion was made for the changes in 2008 and for the optical scanner to be in place for the primary. The counties make that decision. Ms. Johnson said the state has $15 million of HAVA money and the money is given by Congress only one time. Then there is the other federal legislation that has been talked about with funding in it. She said the State Board is working with the county clerks and the public to decide what steps to take next.
Business concluded, and the meeting adjourned at 2:00 p.m.