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 24, 2007, at 1:00 PM, in Room 171 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 Darryl T. Owens, Co-Chair; Senators Julian M. Carroll, and Alice Forgy Kerr; Representatives Mike Cherry, Joseph M. Fischer, J. R. Gray, Mary Lou Marzian, Dottie Sims, and Kathy W. Stein.
Guests: Trey Grayson, Secretary of State.
LRC Staff: Judy Fritz, Erica Warren, and Terisa Roland.
Secretary Grayson discussed a rotating primary plan for candidates running for president. He serves as co-chair of the National Association of Secretaries of State's Presidential Primary committee.
In each member's folder there was an article written by Secretary Grayson on the subject.
Secretary Grayson gave a background on Presidential Primaries. He said the two major political parties have a Presidential Nominating Committee and that states set their own dates. Kentucky holds their primary in May as other states do. He said some states want to have a say in the process and it is beneficial for states to have a primary that is contested. Also, to have influence, and to have issues be addressed. They want votes to matter. He said the one dilemma to many of the states moving their primary up earlier in the calendar year is they didn't move up far enough or that the election had already been settled. Secretary Grayson's organization came up with the rotating primary system. The idea was to divide the country into four regions. The first time a region will be drawn out to see which one goes first then every four years they will rotate. They want to make it easier for candidates to campaign so they can focus on that region for that month. Over the course of 4 presidential primaries, each region would have the opportunity to go first.
Secretary Grayson stated that NASS is trying to decide how the best way to implement the idea. He said one possibility would be for Congress to pass a law for a rotating regional system. Or states could individually decide to change their rules passing a law establishing the rotating regional system or any system that Congress thinks would be better. If done state by state, it wouldn't have to take effect until a majority of states agree to the plan. The barrier is to change party rules.
Secretary Grayson said one of the things NASS will ask for this year is that the states to pass a resolution saying that the current Presidential Primary Nominating Process is flawed and that the rotating regional system is a solution to the problem.
Representative Gray asked what the cost would be of moving the primary up to a day other than the state primary date. Secretary Grayson said approximately $5 million.
Representative Owens said assuming they go to the regional plan, given our size compared to some other states in the region he rather doubts we would realize an economic benefit given the number of voters there would be. Secretary Grayson said at the bear minimum, if Kentucky is in the earlier region, the voters would have a better say.
Senator Carroll asked if this was still in the informative stage and if any states have taken any action. Secretary Grayson said that the idea is still for discussion only.
Senator Kerr wanted Don Blevins, Fayette County Clerk to give his opinion about the situation. Mr. Blevins said he did not have the opportunity to consider the proposal but the last time there was a separate presidential primary in Kentucky, there was a dismal turnout. Mr. Blevins is hesitant because Kentucky has so few delegate votes that it would be worth the $5 million that would be spent.
Senator Carroll said of the plans considered, was there one that would involve states with a percentage of the total delegates where Kentucky might be with several small states that would force the candidates to give those states some attention. Secretary Grayson said there is a plan called the American Plan which starts with the population at stake on each week or month and builds up so the bigger states can't be a first.
Representative Marzian asked about changing electoral vs popular vote in the subcommittee. Secretary Grayson said to amend the U.S. constitution would be difficult, it is impossible to change the Electoral College because it helps small states. He mentioned a plan that some states have considered to by pass the Electoral College by interstate agreement, but few, if any, states have signed on yet.
Senator Thayer asked for approval of the June 26, 2007 minutes, and they were approved. He said there would be no meeting in August. The topic for the September meeting will be various voting machines used in the state.
Business concluded, and the meeting adjourned at 1:45 p.m.