FRANKFORT — Secretary of State Michael Adams announced on Wednesday steps he’s taken to clean up Kentucky’s voter rolls.
This was one of his campaign pledges, and one that Adams repeated during testimony before a legislative committee shortly after winning the November 2019 general election.
“We have both a federal law and state law that requires this, but we have not done so for the past decade,” he told the Interim Joint State Government Committee on Nov. 21, 2019. “We have a federal court order from Judge Tatenhove here in Frankfort to clean up the voter rolls.”
In his Wednesday announcement, Adams said that consistent with his campaign promise to clean up Kentucky’s voter rolls, 33,696 dead voters have been removed this year as of Dec. 14.
“There is no legitimate interest in dead people being registered to vote,” Adams said. “Our administration has made strides in cleaning up the voter rolls, and Kentuckians should have confidence in our election system.”
In the same period, Kentucky also removed 4,252 voters convicted of felonies, 3,435 voters who moved out of state, 586 voters who asked to de-register, and 242 voters judged mentally incompetent.
Adams also noted that there has been a bump in voter registration, with 10,534 net new voters registering between Oct. 1-5, and Nov. 4-30. By law, the voter registration books close the four weeks before an election, through Election Day, then re-open. In comparison, 4,115 net new voters registered in October and November 2019.
“We’ve seen, particularly after Election Day, a bump in voter registration,” Adams said. “I hope this level of interest and enthusiasm stretches into 2021, a non-election year.”
For October and November combined, Democrats saw a 0.12% decrease in registration, Republicans saw a 0.63% increase in registration, and others saw a 0.75% increase in registration.
Adams, a Republican from Paducah, says there are four items he hopes lawmakers consider after he and Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear developed the plan and issued executive orders on conducting the election during the coronavirus pandemic.
• Expanded early voting. “I don’t think we need three weeks for every election,” Adams said. “But a few days would really help take the pressure off voters to show up in a 12-hour span on one day, which is a workday. Saturday voting was very popular. I’ve already done a survey of the county clerks and most of them like early voting, including Saturdays.”
• Voting centers, where residents of every precinct in a county can go. “The clerks really liked those, too,” he said. “It helps them need fewer locations and fewer poll workers to run their elections and also saves them money, they’ve told me. They like that model better than the old-fashioned model. I don’t want to eliminate all precinct voting, but I do want to see at least some use of vote centers.”
• Keeping the online absentee ballot portal. “We’re going to have more absentee balloting than we’ve had in the past,” Adams stated. “Even if we don’t change the law to expand absentee voting, more voters are going to use it, because now they’re familiar with it and they like it.”
• He also wants to keep the “cure” process, which allows absentee voters to fix errors on their ballots.