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Proposal would change timing for Ky. elections

BRUCE SCHREINER

Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Senate approved a proposed ballot measure on Wednesday that would switch elections for Kentucky governor and other statewide constitutional officers to even-numbered years, every four.

Republican Sen. Christian McDaniel said the goal is to raise voter turnout and reduce election-related costs by consolidating more elections.

"For all of us who want to see more people involved in our democracy in choosing our leadership and setting the direction for this commonwealth, this is a common-sense measure," he said.

The proposed constitutional amendment cleared the GOP-run Senate on a 25-12 vote. The proposed constitutional change was opposed by a number of Senate Democrats.

Sen. Ray Jones II, D-Pikeville, said Republicans want the change to improve their chances of winning constitutional offices. Democrats now hold all but one of the posts.

"It's about moving the governor's race and the other constitutional officers' elections to a presidential election cycle to benefit Republicans," Jones said. "It's not a secret that Republicans tend to perform very well in Kentucky presidential elections."

The measure now goes to the Democratic-led House.

Currently, Kentucky's elections for governor, lieutenant governor and the other constitutional offices - attorney general, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer and agriculture commissioner - are held in odd-numbered years. The next election for those is set for 2015.

The proposed ballot measure would shift those elections to even-numbered years every four, beginning in 2016, which is a presidential election year.

The measure, if it reaches the ballot and is approved by voters, would mean that the current constitutional officeholders would serve an extra year.

Jones said that by overlapping with the presidential elections, the races for state constitutional offices would be influenced by "untold millions" of special-interest money coming from outside Kentucky.

McDaniel said that switching the statewide constitutional elections to even-numbered years would boost voter participation in choosing the governor and other top leaders.

In 2012, a presidential-election year, voter turnout in Kentucky was 59 percent, he said. In 2011, turnout was 28 percent for the election of constitutional officers, he said.

Consolidating more elections would save the state $3.5 million next year and would save counties $13.1 million, McDaniel said.

Kentucky is among five states that choose governors and other statewide officials in odd-numbered years, said Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, who supported the bill.

___

The legislation is Senate Bill 27.

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